The subject addressed in The Invisible Hand is the providence of God, a favorite theme of the author and minister, R.C. Sproul.  This particular book is an unusual mixture (for anyone but Sproul) of historical accounts, philosophy, Scripture, personal stories and references to novels.   He borrows the Westminster Confession’s definition of providence as his basis:

God the great Creator of all things doth uphold, direct, dispose, and govern all creatures, actions, and things, from the greatest even to the least, by his most wise and holy providence, according to his infallible foreknowledge, and the free and immutable counsel of his own will, to the praise of the glory of his wisdom, power, justice, goodness, and mercy (p 19).

Sproul tackles the sticky issues of sovereignty vs. free will (pp 80-86), the problem of evil and pain (pp 159-168) and the point of prayer in light of God’s providence (pp 201-207), and has to admit that these are unsolvable mysteries to our human minds, but of course not to God’s.  Still, according to Romans 8:28, God promises to cause all things to work together for the good for His people.  As Sproul writes, “For the Christian every tragedy is ultimately a blessing, or God is a liar” (p 174).

Sproul also discusses miracles, demonstrating that their purpose in Scripture was to serve to authenticate the agents of revelation.  The question for modern times is, “Can they do less (p 193)?”  While I think Sproul could have developed this idea better, nevertheless he asserts, “It is clear that however we define a miracle we must place the alleged miracles of today in a different class, or category, from those recorded in the Scriptures” (p 194).

I take exception with the author’s view that the invisible church includes angels (p 134) and that Peter is the “rock” upon which the church is built (p 136), but overall The Invisible Hand is a readable, helpful manual of the providence of God directed towards the average Christian.

The Invisible Hand, Do All Things Really Work For Good?  by R.C. Sproul (Phillipsburg:  P & R Publishing, 1996, 2003) 217 pp., paper $14.99

Reviewed by Gary E. Gilley, Southern View Chapel