Friday, February 18, 2011

What Richard Said

Well, it's really what Jurgen Moltmann said.

Richard's interested in universalism as a means to theodicy, and posted about it. But I was really struck by this bit he quoted from Moltmann's Trinity and Kingdom:

The question of theodicy is not a speculative question; it is a critical one. It is the all-embracing eschatological question. It is not purely theoretical, for it cannot be answered with any new theory about the existing world. It is a practical question which will only be answered through experience of the new world in which 'God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.' It is not really a question at all, in the sense of something we can ask or not ask, like other questions. It is the open wound of life in this world. It is the real task of faith and theology to make it possible for us to survive, to go on living, with this open wound. The person who believes will not rest content with any slickly explanatory answer to the theodicy question. And he will also resist any attempts to soften the question down. The more a person believes, the more deeply he experiences pain over the suffering in the world, and the more passionately he asks about God and the new creation.


"It is not purely theoretical, for it cannot be answered with any new theory about the existing world." Put another way: theodicy is about reconciling our experience of the world with the claims people are making about God. Good theodicy is an effort to develop a living, harmonious understanding of the universe, rather than a manufactured, dead one, riddled with contradictions and conflicts.

5 comments:

Mike Gantt said...

A truly biblical theodicy, I think, would have to begin with the acknowledgement that sin (evil) preceded the creation of which we are a part, and that this creation was in fact God's intended means to deal with that evil. In other words, the original sin was not committed on earth.

I do believe that everyone is going to heaven and present a biblical case for it. However, I also believe that God is calling all of us to repent. The purpose of our repentance is not to guarantee us a place in heaven, for that, as I've said, has already been determined. Rather, repentance will bring us benefits in this life and the next which we would not otherwise receive.

klatu said...

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Here then is the basis for the first ever viable religious conception capable of leading reason, by faith, to observable consequences which can be tested and judged. This new teaching delivers the first ever religious claim of insight into the human condition, that meets the Enlightenment criteria of testable, verifiable, direct cause and effect, evidence based truth embodied in action. For the first time in history, however unexpected, the world must measure for itself, the reality of a new claim to revealed truth, a moral tenet not of human intellectual origin, offering access by faith, to absolute proof, an objective basis for moral principle and a fully rationally, justifiable belief!

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Matthew said...

@mike
@klatu verata coughcoughcough

Both of those sound like unusual ideas. They're not necessarily ideas that I find compelling, but they are definitely unusual.

Scott said...

I'm giving an exam to my undergrads tomorrow, and I told them if they can't communicate an idea briefly and succinctly, it probably means they don't understand the idea.

Granting there are ideas too complex to be communicated briefly, I'd say the vagueness and constant name-dropping (idea-dropping?) in klatu’s comment suggests he does't understand what he's trying to say -- or else he knows that if he stated the idea clearly, no one would follow the link.

My apologies if I'm taking the comment too seriously by even commenting on it.

Matthew said...

@Scott

Yeah, I'm with you on all that.

Although I wonder if I'd be willing to grant the assertion that "there are ideas too complex to be communicated briefly." I'm inclined to think that /any/ idea can be communicated briefly, and with little enough smudge that it would be recognizable to a third person who completely understood the idea.