Response Paper: Providential History

This week’s response paper is a first attempt to think through the question you’ll answer at greater length in your midterm essay: What does it mean to think both historically and Christianly about the past?


1. Read chs. 4-5 in Fea, Why Study History? You’ll see that Fea largely rejects so-called “providential” approaches to “thinking Christianly” about the past (ch. 4), then suggests alternative theological resources for Christians engaged in the practice of history (ch. 5).

2. Watch my video conversation with Prof. Kooistra on “How Christians Do History.” (The whole twenty-minute clip is potentially useful, for this paper and for the longer midterm essay due on the 20th, but the section most directly relevant to providential history starts around 11:45.)


By noon3pm on Wednesday, upload to Moodle a 300-word response paper in which you draw on your viewing and reading to answer this question: Is “providential history” a legitimate way to think both historically and Christianly about the past?

However you construct your response, it should first be clear that you understand what we mean by “providential history.” Then draw on the assigned chapters in Fea’s book and the video conversation in order to defend or critique providential history. Is it consistent with “thinking historically”? (If not, should that matter to Christians?)

I’ll share a few of your thoughts here on Wednesday, giving you all a chance to continue the conversation through blog comments before we reach Friday’s pre-Spring Break discussion.


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