And, if all else fails, there is the old standby of incredulity: “I just can’t believe you [are stupid enough to] worship a God Who [is so heinous that He] would allow so much suffering in this world.” Yet the conditions of the discussion at the very outset assume that God exists. Flashcards. No one can answer these specific questions adequately, anymore than the two-year old can understand why she must undergo heart surgery (Adams, 1990, p. 217; see also Frame, 1994, pp. Our duty is to do what is right, not to worry about what God is doing and why. By signing up for this email, you are agreeing to news, offers, and information from Encyclopaedia Britannica. E.g., child abuse by an alcoholic parent [This explains much of the suffering endured in our lives. If God is all-powerful, He could do something to prevent or end suffering. By Kenny McKinley. If God already has revealed so much to us in history, we can only wait in wonder to see what will be revealed to us in the future: “If we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance” (Romans 8:18,25). Learn. On the contrary, Christ’s willing sacrifice on the cross has shown God to be just. As to God’s power, there are no limits as to what He could bring to bear in any one situation. 25-37. Marilyn McCord Adams and Robert Merrihew Adams (Oxford, England: Oxford University Press; originally published in Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, 1989, 63S:297-310), pp. There is a God, if there is any justice at all. Only for the sake of the present argument does the atheist grant God’s existence. What a critic must do is supply some extra premises (e.g., Mackie, 1990, p. 26). It’s typical to think of the problem of evil like this: we picture ourselves in … He lost his property, his children, and his health. Christianity - Christianity - The problem of suffering: The starting point for the Christian understanding of suffering is the messianic self-understanding of Jesus himself. The Problem of Evil and Suffering. This excludes deists, for example, who believe that a Supreme Being created the world, and left it alone. The Problem Of Suffering 8 2. 207-221. In the end, this god is not the God that most Christians would want to defend. Suffering is a problem for Christian apologetics, primarily because it is held to demonstrate the logical incoherence of Christianity. This is such a common tactic that I must make this point absolutely clear: the atheist cannot accuse us of a contradiction within our faith, and then block us from introducing the entire content of that faith (as opposed to discussing just the logical claims that are made about God’s attributes). For Jews, the problem of suffering is twofold: There is a universal problem and a particular problem. Or, in the words of a Simon and Garfunkel song, “God has a plan, but it’s not available to the common man.” If God is Who we think He is, then there must be an explanation, but it is beyond our grasp. Everything spiritual presses toward corporealization; its eternal figure is a corporeal figure. The fact is, every concept important to Christianity comes from the Bible, and so it is to the Bible we must go if we are to find answers that are consistent with the claims we are making about Christianity. Text: Lamentations 3:1-24, Romans 8:18, 2nd Cor. This can cause problems for many Christians, as they believe in a loving, powerful and all-knowing God. It is appropriate to say that Christianity has contended for a “holistic” view of the human. Paul’s comments about mercy lead us to a second response: not only is God sovereign, but His mercy demonstrates that He is just. “Mental pain is less dramatic than physical pain, but it is more common and also more hard to bear. If we are to understand the relevant literature on the problem of evil and suffering we need clarity on some core terms of the discussion. Why did it have to be taken out on Someone else? Jesus himself deeply disappointed his disciples’ notions aiming at power and exaltation, in that he taught them, in accordance with Isaiah, chapter 53: “The Son of man will suffer many things.” In Jesus’ announcements of suffering the Christian understanding of suffering is clearly expressed: suffering is not the final aim and end in itself in the realization of human destiny; it is the gateway to resurrection, to rebirth, to new creation. Why was this woman raped? “Don’t you think it’s awful,” the atheist speaks with incredulity once more, “that God will condemn all those people who don’t bow down and worship Him and only Him?” What would be worse is if there were no God to punish the Neros, Hitlers, and child molesters of this world. By justifying us, God shows that He is just; by making us righteous, He shows that He is righteous. Three of his friends thought terrible sins must lie at the root of such misfortunes. Christians serve a God who has lived on this earth and endured trauma, temptation, bereavement, torture, hunger, thirst, persecution and even execution. The very problem, as it is posed to us, grants that God exists. harrywhitaker. Gravity. There is a tremendous amount of suffering in the world. The intellectual problem of suffering is a challenge unique to theists. During this time, he had no idea why these things were happening to him. In so doing, I intend to show how one common tactic may distract us from a God-centered response. Just to be human is to deal with emotional and physical pain on a day-to-day basis. The trouble is, these additional claims for what God would or could do fail to take into account a complete picture of God. From that point on, it does not matter for the sake of argument whether the critics believe that the Bible is true, or that we all are sinners in need of salvation, or that God raised His Son from the grave. Suffering is when people have to face and live with unpleasant events or conditions. As far as he is concerned, suffering just is: it is part of our unplanned, purposeless existence. Although New Life Church does not affirm all of these views in their entirety, we recommend them as relevant voices to the current conversation. While suffering is the chief theme of the book, a reason for suffering is not given. Still, people may think that this is a problem that Christians need to address. The Problem of Suffering is a superb resource to share and to use with anyone suffering any form of loss. While most people try to avoid suffering or deny it, Christians can lean into suffering. Now and then, in religious circles, we hear that a minister, theologian, or biblical scholar has decided they are an atheist. The problem of evil is the question of how to reconcile the existence of evil and suffering with an omnipotent, omnibenevolent, and omniscient God. Some point to animal suffering as an example of such evil. (1990), “Evil and Omnipotence,” The Problem of Evil, ed. Lewis asserts that pain is a problem because our finite, human minds selfishly believe that pain-free lives would prove that God loves us. Job’s wife told him to “curse God and die” (2:9). Finally, someone may wish to deny the third premise by maintaining that suffering is not real. Job’s cry, like our own, seems to be “Why God. The Gospel According to Matthew described the temptation of Jesus by Satan in the wilderness as a temptation to worldly power. - problem of suffering solved A thoughtful variation of this occurs in the story of King Oedipus , where Oedipus investigates the plague ravaging Thebes by trying to find out who has offended the gods; it turns out that he himself has brought down the plague, because he has (without realising it) murdered his own father and married his own mother. He rejects that there is a God Who could do something about suffering if He had the power, and he rejects that there is a God Who would do something about suffering if He had the inclination. If we understand the intellectual problem of suffering, we may have a better chance of coming through the emotional side of the problem. He points out that suffering, and the claims about God, are not contradictory. The goal of redemption is not separation of the spirit from the body; it is rather the new human in the entirety of body, soul, and mind. Again, this is not the God of theism. The Book of Job shows that God stood back and allowed a man to suffer at the hands of the Adversary. It is also a human problem. At some point, apparently not too long after the creation week, Satan tempted Eve to eat the forbidden fruit and she, in turn, convinced Adam to do the same. A dualistic understanding of what it is to be human, which assumes an essential difference between the spiritual and the material-bodily sides of human existence, necessarily leads to the idea of the immortality of the soul. While he was at it, Paul dealt with another familiar accusation: “You will say to me then, ‘Why does He still find fault? Both Jews and Gentiles were vessels filled with iniquity, but God rescued those whom He called, and has filled them with His mercy (vs. 24). STUDY. If God does not exist, then these explanations disappear.” Again, whether God exists is beside the point. When we think we are suffering, all we are doing is acting like children who have been denied toys or candy. It is as much about the justification of God (a theodicy) as it is about the justification of man. Articles Nietzsche and the Problem of Suffering Van Harvey on the metaphysical aspects of an anti-metaphysical philosophy.. Friedrich Nietzsche shared at least one fundamental concern with the religions and metaphysical systems that he so criticized: the problem of suffering and how one deals with it. They were not challenging us (on this occasion) to defend the existence of God. Besides, if humankind is guilty, why not punish the whole of mankind? Maybe—just maybe—the skeptic might go along with us and agree that Jesus had to die to save us from our sins. Like every human being, he faces the existential problem of suffering. Perhaps we can learn something from these events, but how can we justify the collateral damage? But, what you asked about was the Problem of Suffering, and the West has thought about the Problem of Suffering for many centuries, and of course, not just the West, this problem is represented, can be found in the thought of every culture going. Contrary to the atheists’ assertion, a Christian’s faith in God is not a humiliating emotional crutch, but a source of joy in overcoming the practical and existential problem of suffering. In conversations on belief in God, perhaps the greatest conundrum is the timeless problem of human suffering. In debates with Christians, atheists commonly raise the problem of evil. Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. One reason to suspect that there must be more answers is that the Bible—the foundation of our faith (Romans 10:17)—is not exactly silent on the subject. God is infinitely good, Kushner concluded in his immensely popular book, When Bad Things Happen to Good People (1981), but He is not all-powerful. 23-25a). But where is the contradiction in affirming both that there is suffering, and that God is an all-loving and all-powerful Being? If only we had a complete picture of reality, Spinoza would say, we would know God, and nothing would appear imperfect. I stand with those theologians who contend that the problem of pain is the only good argument against the Judeo-Christian concept of God. The argument goes something like this: The reason I say that this is a problem for the theist is that the atheist does not believe in the first two premises. Some might point out that Jacob’s having a higher place than his older brother was an injustice, but God had a plan that did not take into account manmade customs of inheritance. Where do we begin? For God to “eliminate evil insofar as He could” still may mean that we have a lot of evil in the world, because to reduce it any further might violate one of God’s other attributes. The Problem of Suffering. The shape of our discussion of the problem of suffering is thus a response to this agenda, set by critics of the Christian faith. It’s not fair for us to suffer if God is supposed to be in control.” Again, Paul responded with a countercharge: “Who are you to reply against God? The Christian hope, however, does not aim at the immortality of the soul but at the resurrection of the body. Other theologians have suggested that God neither is infinitely powerful nor infinitely good, but only in the process of acquiring these attributes. They want to respond with Job, and they want to respond with Christ, because these examples make sense out of suffering for them, but the atheists always try to block this part of the conversation. The monotheistic faiths must consider the problems of suffering and evil within the context of God's power and mercy. Christians, I believe, know within themselves that their faith has been a source of strength. To those outside the faith, all this makes no sense, yet it is central to Christianity. Marilyn McCord Adams agrees: As is often the case, the Book of Beginnings is the best place to start in dealing with fundamental questions. If God knows everything, then God knows about all evil. The Problem of Pain answers the universal question, "Why would an all-loving, all-knowing God allow people to experience pain and suffering?" This brought judgment from God. The best known presentation is attributed to the Greek philosopher Epicurus by David Hume, who was responsible for popularizing it. Plantinga has given us a good place to start. They would live forever as long as they could eat from this tree (Genesis 3:22), but they were not immortal. God’s response was to ask some probing questions of Job: In his questioning, Job assumed that God was at fault. This was not so evident to the people of the Old Testament who lacked the clear testimony of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. It is honest, straightforward, expressive, evocative of much reflection and insight, and linked closely to the suffering Savior. 2. In the meantime, the words of Peter remind us that the Lord “is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). Apparently, some of them felt that they, as descendants of Abraham, merited a greater share in the inheritance of God’s kingdom. Individual Christians are called to follow the example of Christ; incorporation into the body of Christ is granted to those who are ready to carry out within themselves Christ’s destiny of suffering, death, and resurrection. 38-52. Christian theism is, in fact, the only worldview which can consistently make sense of the problem of evil and suffering. This is the practical and existential problem of suffering that affects, and is affected by, our world view. By the way, this piece stems from a chapter in my own book on Lewis. To some degree or another, they know that suffering does not reflect badly on what they understand of God. E.g., a car wreck caused by someone else’s carelessness 2. Was all this death necessary to teach Job, and us, a lesson about suffering? What we call “suffering,” they might say, is just an illusion. Job himself came to question God’s goodness and power. Suffering is the central problem that Buddhism addresses, and recognizing our suffering is the first step to its solution. That there is so much evil is supposed to show that God’s powers are limited. Therefore, God either is not all-loving or not all-powerful. Along the way, He suffered the disobedience of Gentiles and Jews alike. Forever, this has been a weighty problem. Specifically, most readers of this article will be Christians who believe that God has attributes that are infinite in degree: that He is eternal, all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving, and so on. Why doesn’t He do something? Created by. Why did God not do a better job of arranging events so that His own Son could die in a more humane way? At the time of His arrest, the Son of God could have called on twelve legions of angels, but not without contradicting the promises of His Father in heaven (Matthew 26:52-56). Even Christians, who confess a living God (Matthew 16:16), may wonder: Where is this God when we need Him? Some would say that all suffering is the result of violating natural laws, and that God or Satan have absolutely no hand in suffering whatsoever. God can use it to judge the wicked, strengthen the faithful, aid the oppressed, and bless the righteous. 48,52). The little girl does not hate her parents for the pain, but continues to love and trust them based on her life experience. “But why should I believe the Bible?,” a critic will respond. PLAY. From God’s perspective, the first step is not to answer a question like this, but to deal with our accusations. We are justified through faith. This excludes deists, for example, who believe that a Supreme Being created the world, and left it alone. Suffering is a guaranteed aspect of living in this world. Suffering is a universal truth—along with impermanence and nonself it’s one of the three basic qualities (marks) of existence—but it comes in many forms. Sin as the misuse of human freedom has led humans into total opposition against God. The intellectual problem of suffering is a challenge unique to theists. The old patriarch accused God of. There is nothing wrong with asking “why” questions, but when they turn into accusations, we challenge His sovereignty. 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