As C.S. There is just blind fate. And it is not as simple as it sounds at first, because the answer to the question is rooted in God’s nature, the way the universe is set up, and the nature of humanity. 8:28-29). - The Problem of Pain, C.S. Suffering at the hands of people (persecution, violent treatments) is used of God to “fill up the measure of their sins.” It shows the evil character of those who persecute others and the justice of God’s judgment when it falls. The proper response is not to blame God but rather to join Him in the battle of the ages against evil.The traditional "problem of evil" may be stated that the three sentences: 1) God is all good; 2) God is all powerful; and 3) evil exists, are incompatible, if not logically, then at least existentially. (Psalm 13:1)Download Study Card. There are some other attempts to put suffering "outside" of God's plan that might be mentioned here. 11:24-32; 12:7-10; Eph. Answer: The “theology of hope” is a theological perspective. God’s word clearly shows that suffering is a normal part of the Christian life, especially suffering for Christ. YHVH is Lord of lords and King of kings whose word can never fail (Deut. His promises are secure because God is in control, and God's Name YHVH (יהוה) means that he is the Faithful One who reigns over all states of being and time, in every realm of existence. 2:14-16). Compare 1 Pet. 13:12). The appearance of reckless animal cruelty poses questions for humanity to be sure; but it also, questions the goodness of God. The best known presentation is attributed to the Greek philosopher Epicurus by David Hume, who was responsible for popularizing it. Hampton wrote many articles for the Biblical Studies Foundation and on... More, Happy New Year: Past, Present, and Future Perspectives, 4. This includes the following areas: (2) We suffer to develop our capacity and sympathy in comforting others (2 Cor. Hebrew for ChristiansCopyright © John J. ParsonsAll rights reserved. They allow the process to work and allow us to experience inner peace and joy in the midst of the trials. It is never easy. . Ask a Question. 258 Theology Questions and Answers. Some non-believers adopt a docetic view of suffering, which denies the reality of pain altogether. The Apostle Paul saw his thorn in the flesh as an instrument allowed by God to help him maintain a spirit of humility and dependence on the Lord because of the special revelations he had seen as one who had been caught up to the third heaven. Indeed, far from being a sign of God's abandonment, suffering is transformed to be a means of God's care for us. It is safe to say that both skeptic and believer alike share one opinion in common: The question of pain and suffering provides the greatest challenge to belief in God. 1:6; Jam. (1) We suffer because we live in a fallen world where sin reigns in the hearts of men. Ryan's writings on Aquinas here come with a particular point of view in mind. And that act is for our sakes. Then He is impotent. Nevertheless, and this is the problem given in the Book of Job, it is very often the righteous that suffer, while the wicked prosper, and it this breakdown of the principle of "karma" that is most problematic...In the end the question of why creatures suffer may be an unanswerable question, at least at the present time, because we are not omniscient and cannot ascertain the deepest reaches of God's redemptive purposes. 1:3-4). God is Eternal and therefore he is the Possessor of Eternal Life, Truth, Being, and so on. We may know some of the theological reasons for suffering from Scripture, yet when it hits, there is still a certain mystery. Theology Interview questions. 12:7). (8) We suffer to broaden our ministries (cf. Create. Lewis; "Walking with God through Pain and Suffering," by Timothy Keller; "God, Freedom, and Evil" by Alvin Plantiga; "Pathways in Theodicy: An Introduction to the Problem of Evil" by Mark Scott; "The Many Faces of Evil" by John Feinberg; and "Philosophy of Religion" by C.S. Suffering is not without meaning in spite of its mystery. 1:6--“distressed” is lupeo meaning “to cause pain, sorrow, grief”). 17:8f). Log in Sign up. And frankly, the people suffering from the Aurora tragedy don't need a big theological treatise right now; any intellectual response is going to seem trite and inadequate. If we are going to endure suffering and the trials of life, however, we must also understand and believe in the other purposes and reasons for suffering as they are related to the chief purpose. 11:21-23), so it is simply incorrect to suppose that God cannot foresee future possibilities as well as actualities. What is God doing? Like all my other writing, this too is "work in progress," friends.... Shalom. It causes us to turn from our resources to His resources. 13:4-6). “Testing” in this same verse is dokimion which has a similar idea. 3:12). The Chassidic masters must have read Kierkegaard, who called suffering the process of being "educated for eternity." “For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, and He scourges every son He receives.” (Heb. Like the rich man who asked Yeshua how to inherit eternal life (Mark 10:17-22), God does not force us to follow him or to accept his love, though there are real consequences for those who willingly choose to disregard moral and spiritual reality. Whence then is evil?" Search our database or browse our topically indexed answers to real questions people have sent us. Question: "What is hope theology / theology of hope?" Suffering prepares us for more glory. 6:7-9). God is perfect in all his ways (Deut. To submit a question about the Bible, Christian theology, or Church History, complete and submit the following form. If you can't find what you need, submit a new question and we'll put together an answer just for you. Wherever there is suffering, there is a battle — a battle for your soul. Regardless of what we know and how hard we apply the principles, it is going to hurt (cf. 5:3-4). Ecclesiastes 7:14 In the day of prosperity be happy, But in the day of adversity consider--God has made the one as well as the other so that man may not discover anything that will be after him. Kids will ask, “Why didn’t God prevent that from happening?” Suffering provides key opportunities to manifest and magnify the power of God through His servants in order to verify and confirm the messenger and his message. What is God doing? Fr. Note that Paul links our present suffering (πάθος, pathos) with a divinely imparted comfort (παράκλησις, "paraklesis"), which he regards as a state of blessedness. What a find. (4) We suffer because it is a training tool. Suffering is a battleground. Hope theology has been championed by many theologians, though the most influential by far has been Jurgen Moltmann of Germany. God "purges" the vine branches; he cuts back and reshapes our growth and direction (John 15:1-8). Suffering teaches us empathy, compassion, and humility, and God comforts us in our afflictions so that we can comfort others with the comfort we have been given by God (2 Cor. 4:16). This is similar to point (4) above with more emphasis on the process and defining the objective, the production of the character of Christ. 1:6-7 where the same Greek words are used along with the verb dokimazo which means, “put to the test,” “prove by testing as with gold.”. 4:4-7), 3. ... wrote for those suffering to show it was the same as jesus suffering. “For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for Him” (Phil. We believe in a day of judgment, and afterwards the just punishment of sinners in hell forever. Let’s start with sudden, unexpected deaths, such as in a car accident. When you encounter God as the lover of your soul, you begin to apprehend the truth that "love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude; it does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth" (1 Cor. It is true, however, that rarely does suffering not reveal areas of need, weaknesses, and wrong attitudes that need to be removed like dross in the gold refining process (cf. Suffering provides opportunity for God’s glory, our transformation, testimony, and ministry, etc. Suffering came into the world at the same time as sin: Through Adam and Eve, and through their sin, pain, suffering, and death were brought into God's good and perfect creation. All questions and answers are taken from The Theology Program courses. 8:28). We only become a person, a self, in relationship with eternity, and suffering turns the soul's gaze away from the fleeting to the truth that unifies and heals us. It is also not a means of gaining points with God, nor of subduing the flesh (as in asceticism). Our suffering builds endurance and strength, and unites us deeply with God's heart, with the goal of being glorified with Yeshua (Rom. The Chasidic School has said, "Man descends in order to ascend," meaning that the battle with yetzer hara (the "lower nature") is meant to strengthen us and develop qualities that we could otherwise not know. 11:33. Being in a genuine love-relationship with God gives you the courage to face the ambiguity of a world filled with suffering with hope and compassion. 2:47). There are a large number of books that address the problem of suffering in better detail, and I would recommend Richard Rice's book "Suffering and the Search for Meaning" as a good place to start exploring some of the basic issues. We must understand God’s chief purpose for our lives is to be conformed to the image of Christ and He has determined in His plan to use suffering for our spiritual development. 17:17-24; John 11:1-45). "Marcel Proust once said, "To wisdom and goodness we make only promises; pain we obey," which I interpret to mean that suffering can teach us and help us develop into mature people. We will give attention to both the spirituality for a theology of suffering and to the methods for framing a theology of suffering. We are disciplined by God to bear a greater good (Heb. Is He able, but not willing? Don’t i… But Job silences these three by showing that is no correlation in this world between righteousness and prosperity or between wickedness and suffering. “Knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. God lovingly and faithfully uses suffering to develop personal righteousness, maturity, and our walk with Him (Heb. Some people regard life in this world as a cosmic battlefield and blame the devil for all the suffering and evil we experience. To glorify God before the angelic world (Job 1-2; 1 Pet. 1 Pet. Trials simply give us the capacity to cooperate with the process (Jam. I encourage you to read Carson’s response in full. 6:10f; Ex. Lewis. Philippians 1:12-14 with 4:5-9). 4:8-12; 1 Pet. Search. (Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion). This world of shadows and decay is not our true home, and suffering is God's way of calling us away from the allure of its illusions. While it does offer a biblical theology of suffering, it also has a great deal of … 1 Thessalonians 3:3 so that no man may be disturbed by these afflictions; for you yourselves know that we have been destined for this. SELECT QUESTIONS ON THE THEOLOGY OF GOD THE REDEEMER (1995) PRELIMINARY NOTE . 1 Pet. It should be clear that these other approaches are contrary to the clear teaching of Scripture, since God is the God of Truth (אֵל אֱמֶת) who indeed knows the beginning from the end, and indeed God's understanding and power are infinite (Psalm 147:5; Isa. Others say that God does not know the future because reality is a process, and not a set of facts, and God simply leaves room for personal choices that are not predetermined to occur. 1:4). (See reasons for suffering given below.). Even the wickedness of men and the suffering they cause is used by God to display His grace and love. Theology: Disability, disease, and suffering all have implications for our theology and challenge the traditional images of God. 3:12-14). 3:14-17). “That’s just how it had to be.” Stuff happens. 1:4). “To this [suffering] your were called...” (1 Pet. 12:6). 1:6-7). The book of Job shows us there can be two ways to respond to suffering: one that curses God because of suffering and one that praises God, even in the midst of suffering (Job 2:9–10). What are these bends in the road that God puts in the path of life that we are to carefully consider? A question we should ask: Am I taking care of my body–which was bought at a price–by taking medication or by not taking it? Professors, pastors and theologians are here to help. "If the world exists not chiefly that we may love God but that God may love us, yet that very fact, on a deeper level, is so for our sakes. All suffering is not, for instance, a product of our own foolishness, self-induced misery, or sin. The Judge of the earth shall always do what is right (Gen. 18:25). In the design of God, it is also something to make us think. Note:  Of course this brief discussion merely scratches the surface of the meaning of suffering for those who believe in God. Because our great God is in control of our lives and future, he must ordain suffering for us with only benevolent and healing intent.On the other hand, the imperative language of Scripture implies that we have a real duty and responsibility to do truth, to love others, to receive the light, to trust in God, and so on. 1:2-4). Most times, suffering is a result of sin in a more general sense. Suffering is somewhat mysterious. 119: Learning and turning (vs. 71, cf. For once, English theology can claim to have pioneered a major theological development: from about 1890 onwards, a steady stream of English theologians, whose theological approaches differ considerably in other respects, have agreed in advocating, with more or less emphasis, a doctrine of divine suffering. 12:6). No matter the reason, even if it is not God’s discipline for blatant carnality, it is a purifier for none of us will ever be perfect in this life (Phil. It is one you will want to ponder and pray through, not only for your own life but also for those to and with whom you will give pastoral care. When believers handle suffering joyfully and with stability, it becomes a marvelous testimony to the power and life of Christ that we claim and name. 10:29). 1. God controls suffering. It may be a rumor that is circulating in your office or your church, damaging your reputation, bringing you grief and anxiety.”40 It can be anything that ranges from something as small and irritating as the bite of a mosquito or the nagging of a gnat to the charge of an elephant or having to face a lion in the lions’ den as with Daniel (Dan. Has Christian theology avoided asking questions about suffering that appears to come from God? The problem of suffering leads inevitably to questions about the nature of good and evil and ulti­ mately to original sin.8In Aquinas's teaching on evil and original sin one can recognize the patterned roots of Schillebeeckx's anthropology. For we are only creatures: our role must always be that of patient to agent, female to male, mirror to light, echo to voice. "Some of the most penetrating and intriguing theological questions are the ones asked not by professional theologians but by sincere students and laypersons. On the one hand we unreservedly believe that God is the sole Authority of reality, the Master of the universe who decrees and ordains all things perfectly. There is no personal higher power. 10:17; Dan. God knows the number of the hairs on our head; he knows our thoughts before we think them and our words before we utter them (Psalm 139); he knows the bloom of every hidden wildflower and when the sparrow falls (Matt. 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