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Posts tagged "Theology of Suffering"

Theology of Suffering, Part IV: Sufferers Need Sufferers

Theology of Suffering, Part IV: Sufferers Need Sufferers

“Theologians and philosophers talk about ‘the problem of evil,’ and the hygienic phrase itself bespeaks a certain distance from extreme suffering, the view from a life inside the charmed circle.” – James Wood

The above statement is one of my favorites in all of James Wood’s recent New Yorker article on Theodicy (i.e. why a gracious God would allow suffering). I could not agree with him more. In fact, in this final installment, my primary focus will be the disconnect he’s describing between the theory of suffering and actual suffering. The truth is this: you must be a fellow sufferer in…

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The Theology of Suffering, Part III: Bottom-Up

The Theology of Suffering, Part III: Bottom-Up

Having introduced the concept of theodicy, and addressed the ineluctability of our emotions, I move, with fear and trembling, on to the main question of suffering raised by James Wood in his recent New Yorker article. Here goes:

If anyone ever sits you down and starts explaining how they’ve finally figured out God’s machinations in the universe, you can get up and go home. What they are giving you is their opinion and, hell, you already have one of those.

When it comes to theology, the place where we begin our inquiries makes an enormous difference in the conclusions we draw. This…

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The Theology of Suffering Part II: Heart Over Mind

The Theology of Suffering Part II: Heart Over Mind

The second installment in our series on suffering. For part one, go here.

According to Ashley Null, the wonderful scholar of the English Reformation, Thomas Cranmer said something close to the following: “What the heart desires, the will chooses, and the mind justifies.” And according to the Prophet Jeremiah “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately corrupt; who can understand it?” (Jer 17:9 RSV). This is the doctrine of the bound will, and it is at the heart of the Reformation. If it is true (and we confess that it is), then arguments that appeal to the mind are,…

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The Theology of Suffering, Part I: Whoa, boy...

The Theology of Suffering, Part I: Whoa, boy…

I was sitting at home the other day, minding my own business, when I received an e-mail about a recent New Yorker article called “Holiday in Hellmouth: God May Be Dead, But The Question Of Why He Permits Suffering Lives On”. Catchy title. After clicking on the link, I was disheartened to discover a long, dense piece of writing about something called “theodicy.” But after reading it, I was glad that I pushed aside my normal reluctance to read long articles on my computer.

The article raises quite a few big issues (and implies several others), so I’ve decided to break…

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