Marilyn McCord Adams and Robert Merrihew Adams (Oxford, England: Oxford University Press; originally published in The Philosophical Review, 1963, 72:180-197), pp. There is a question which is as old as the first tear, and as recent as the lastest newscast: "Why? 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. Pain and suffering is an apologetic problem. 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 give anecdotal stories about people who lost their faith in the face of suffering. Spell. - 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. 150-151). If we understand the intellectual problem of suffering, we may have a better chance of coming through the emotional side of the problem. Ultimately, I suspect, this is why well-grounded Christians remain immune to the atheists’ attacks on this front. The Problem of Evil and Suffering. If God is all-powerful, He could do something to prevent or end suffering. Some writers claim the problem of evil and suffering actually is the source of humanity’s varied religious impulses. 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? Plantinga, Alvin (1977), God, Freedom, and Evil (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans). While suffering is the chief theme of the book, a reason for suffering is not given. The Problem of Suffering: A Father’s Hope, by Gregory P. Schulz. Along the way, He suffered the disobedience of Gentiles and Jews alike. Pike, Nelson (1990), “Hume on Evil,” The Problem of Evil, ed. In the end, of course, Job regained his faith, wealth, and much more. E.g., child abuse by an alcoholic parent [This explains much of the suffering endured in our lives. 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). Why does God allow suffering, sorrow, heartache, and death, even among His own children?" We are justified through faith. Scripture teaches that one day in the future, Yeshua’s kingdom will come to earth in fullness, and this will bring about a complete end to evil and suffering forever: A little bit of evil causing some suffering can test someone's faith, but too much evil and suffering can make a Christian question gods omnibenevolence Why is the intensity of evil an additional problem to the Inconsistent Triad? But given academic freedom in the modern secular university, unbelievers are able to wield the extent and depth of human suffering with devastating effect on ungrounded faith. 38-52. Atheists have challenged us to reconcile certain attributes of God with the existence of evil. APOLOGETICS – The Problem Of Suffering Undoubtedly, the existence of suffering in our world is the most common objection to Christianity raised by skeptics and the biggest stumbling block for those genuinely seeking to understand and know God. Why doesn’t He do something? Suffering is the central problem that Buddhism addresses, and recognizing our suffering is the first step to its solution. “Mental pain is less dramatic than physical pain, but it is more common and also more hard to bear. Of course, as Paul pointed out in verse 8, it is the children of the promise, not the children of flesh, who were to be the children of God and, therefore, heirs of salvation. Suffering is a guaranteed aspect of living in this world. This is not a new argument. That there is so much evil is supposed to show that God is not all-good. For who has resisted His will?’” (vs. 19). Given the tremendous amount of suffering in this world, could we not assume that God is sovereign, but some sort of malevolent ruler? Although New Life Church does not affirm all of these views in their entirety, we recommend them as relevant voices to the current conversation. Ring in the new year with a Britannica Membership - Now 30% off. Was all this death necessary to teach Job, and us, a lesson about suffering? It is honest, straightforward, expressive, evocative of much reflection and insight, and linked closely to the suffering Savior. In the end, this god is not the God that most Christians would want to defend. It is not like saying, for example. What we call “suffering,” they might say, is just an illusion. Test. We also learn that an invisible war is raging between the forces of good and evil. Evil is the opposite of good. STUDY. When we think we are suffering, all we are doing is acting like children who have been denied toys or candy. Perhaps we can learn something from these events, but how can we justify the collateral damage? In Frame’s view, Romans is the New Testament equivalent of Job. He points out that suffering, and the claims about God, are not contradictory. They admit freely that the intellectual problem of suffering was crucial to their own walk away from faith. 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. 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. Indeed, that Jesus suffered for the sake of mankind is a vital element of the Christian faith (Matthew 16:21; Luke 24:26; Acts 17:3; Philippians 3:10; 1 Peter 2:20-25; 4:12-19; etc.). Lewis asserts that pain is a problem because our finite, human minds selfishly believe that pain-free lives would prove that God loves us. 25-37. It is an apologetic problem because the existence of evil in the world naturally raises a question about God. The Problem of Suffering. 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. To anyone who would accuse God of being unjust in this case (vs. 14), Paul would remind them of God’s sovereignty: “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion” (vs. 15). Besides, if humankind is guilty, why not punish the whole of mankind? We, as mere mortals, should not have to “justify the ways of God to Men” (to use a phrase of John Milton’s). Christian theism is, in fact, the only worldview which can consistently make sense of the problem of evil and suffering. 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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). Again, this is not the God of theism. By signing up for this email, you are agreeing to news, offers, and information from Encyclopaedia Britannica. 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. Finally, someone may wish to deny the third premise by maintaining that suffering is not real. Natural calamities killed his animals, and raiders killed his servants (1:15-17). The monotheistic faiths must consider the problems of suffering and evil within the context of God's power and mercy. If God is all-loving, He would want to prevent or end suffering. But could we say that all these terrible events were necessary? Job himself came to question God’s goodness and power. There is a tremendous amount of suffering in the world. Like every human being, he faces the existential problem of suffering. Theists could say, at least initially, that there is nothing irrational about believing in God and acknowledging the reality of evil. The intellectual problem of suffering is a challenge unique to theists. People have struggled with this apparent dilemma throughout the ages. Plantinga has given us a good place to start. Frame, John M. (1994), Apologetics to the Glory of God: An Introduction (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R). God “endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction” (vs. 22). The cross was likewise considered the “dread of the demons,” since as a victory sign it struck terror into the hitherto ruling demonic powers of the world. Paul wrote: “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation [an appeasing sacrifice—TM] by His blood, through faith” (vss. The problem of evil and suffering Various types of evil and suffering are evident in the world. Our duty is to do what is right, not to worry about what God is doing and why. A great wind collapsed a house on Job’s children, killing everyone inside (1:18-19). Only for the sake of the present argument does the atheist grant God’s existence. However, the actual power He uses would depend on other characteristics, such as grace, love, mercy, and so on. Christians, Jews, and Moslems, for the most part, count themselves as theists. While most people try to avoid suffering or deny it, Christians can lean into suffering. It is also a human problem. This was not so evident to the people of the Old Testament who lacked the clear testimony of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. The Problem. All he is asking us to do, as theists, is reconcile or justify suffering, given that God is supposed to be an all-loving and all-powerful Being. The apostle was responding to a “not fair” claim on the part of Jewish Christians. Evil. Adams, Marilyn McCord (1990), “Horrendous Evils and the Goodness of God,” The Problem of Evil, ed. These questions may lead to doubt, and then to disbelief. The universal problem is a philosophical one; it is not just a problem for Jews, but for anyone who conceives of God in a certain way. Definition of Evil. 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. Forever, this has been a weighty problem. Edwards, Rem (1972), Reason and Religion (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich). Let us revisit Romans, but chapter 3 this time. Yet, because of the Christian story, we can approach suffering differently. 23-25a). Apparently, some of them felt that they, as descendants of Abraham, merited a greater share in the inheritance of God’s kingdom. A temptation to power and self-exaltation lay in the late Jewish promise of the coming of the Messiah–Son of man. That there is so much evil is supposed to show that God’s powers are limited. And what about the death of Christ? 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). This excludes deists, for example, who believe that a Supreme Being created the world, and left it alone. AN APOLOGETIC PROBLEM AND A HUMAN PROBLEM . Like Kushner, their “solution” is to abandon the God of conventional theism (e.g., Edwards, 1972, p. 213). He lost his property, his children, and his health. In the early church the sign of the cross was not considered a glorification of suffering but a “sign of victory” (tropaion) in the sense of the ancient triumphal sign that was set up at the place where the victorious turning point of the battle took place. Suffering is when people have to face and live with unpleasant events or conditions. In conversations on belief in God, perhaps the greatest conundrum is the timeless problem of human suffering. Hope for a better world has enabled Christians to survive the worst of times. 4:17 (Read Lamentations Text) Have you ever looked around at your life, or just life in general and asked, “WHY?” Have trials and hardships ever come into … Terms in this set (23) Definition of Suffering. He illustrated this with the example of Esau and Jacob. The best known presentation is attributed to the Greek philosopher Epicurus by David Hume, who was responsible for popularizing it. To some degree or another, they know that suffering does not reflect badly on what they understand of God. God is just before us; the only question that remains is: Are we just before Him? The trouble is, these additional claims for what God would or could do fail to take into account a complete picture of God. Christians, I believe, know within themselves that their faith has been a source of strength. harrywhitaker. Job’s world collapsed around him. Then the following question arises: How do we reconcile the existence of suffering with the existence of an all-loving, all-knowing God? Everything spiritual presses toward corporealization; its eternal figure is a corporeal figure. Flashcards. In the Christian understanding, suffering also does not appear—as in Buddhism—as suffering simply under the general conditions of human existence in this world; it is instead coupled with the specifically Christian idea of the imitation of Christ. Maybe—just maybe—the skeptic might go along with us and agree that Jesus had to die to save us from our sins. An ancient church hymn of the cross spoke of the “cross of the beauty of the Kingdom of God.” The emperor Constantine, following his vision of a cross in the heavens, fastened to the standards of the imperial legions the cross, which was considered the victory sign for the community of Christians hitherto persecuted by the Roman Empire, and elevated it to a token of military triumph over the legions of his pagan foes that were assembled under the sign of the old gods. What a critic must do is supply some extra premises (e.g., Mackie, 1990, p. 26). Further, a critic would have to insist that there are no limits to what this Being could do. Why did it have to be taken out on Someone else? They would live forever as long as they could eat from this tree (Genesis 3:22), but they were not immortal. Spinoza, a radical Jewish philosopher, maintained that evil was mere deprivation. 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. "THE PROBLEM OF SUFFERING" Why Does God Allow It? 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 Gospel According to Matthew described the temptation of Jesus by Satan in the wilderness as a temptation to worldly power. He would have to insist, for instance, that the theist’s perfectly good God always would eliminate evil insofar as He could. It is difficult to grasp the enormity of this situation. But where is the contradiction in affirming both that there is suffering, and that God is an all-loving and all-powerful Being? The Problem of Suffering. Instead, we are told that God is the highest law in the universe and that often his reasons are known only to him. This essay is an attempt to deal with both questions. One approach is to maintain that no explanation is necessary. Now and then, in religious circles, we hear that a minister, theologian, or biblical scholar has decided they are an atheist. “But why should I believe the Bible?,” a critic will respond. God is all-good, God is all-powerful, and yes, there is an abundance of suffering. They ridicule the Bible and the Christian experience. Have we got anything more to say? The answers they find have more to do with the “how” of Christian faith, than the “why” of presumption against God. Suffering is a problem for Christian apologetics, primarily because it is held to demonstrate the logical incoherence of Christianity. By the way, this piece stems from a chapter in my own book on Lewis. Learn. 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. 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. 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 little girl does not hate her parents for the pain, but continues to love and trust them based on her life experience. Still, people may think that this is a problem that Christians need to address. Sin as the misuse of human freedom has led humans into total opposition against God. We simply do not know what conditions would make the existence of both God and evil logically contradictory (also see Pike, 1990, pp. Most Christians, like most atheists, acknowledge that suffering is all too real. This is the practical and existential problem of suffering that affects, and is affected by, our world view. Christians serve a God who has lived on this earth and endured trauma, temptation, bereavement, torture, hunger, thirst, persecution and even execution. As Adams argues: This “richer store of valuables” for the Christian includes not only an intellectual acceptance of God’s sovereignty and justice, but an abiding experience of God in their lives. In short, God is sovereign. It’s typical to think of the problem of evil like this: we picture ourselves in … … But perhaps the best example is suffering. All they see in the atheists’ charges is an allegation of internal inconsistency leveled by people who, frequently, know little to nothing of Scripture, and who, perhaps, never have experienced a full, spiritual life. Gravity. Marilyn McCord Adams and Robert Merrihew Adams (Oxford, England: Oxford University Press; originally published in Mind, 1955, 64:200-12), pp. As to God’s power, there are no limits as to what He could bring to bear in any one situation. 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. Likewise, if we introduce concepts such as sin, salvation, miracles, and so on, the atheist often will respond, “Yes, but they depend on the existence of God. What It Takes To Be You. And therein lies the problem. As far as he is concerned, suffering just is: it is part of our unplanned, purposeless existence. 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. As Dawkin’s quote suggests, The problem of animal suffering is the atheistic argument that an all-good, all-knowing, and all-powerful God would not use millions of years of animal suffering, disease, and death just to create a world for humans to live. How could God allow so much suffering to exist for so long? There is no full human answer to it. By justifying us, God shows that He is just; by making us righteous, He shows that He is righteous. 207-221. Kushner, Harold (1981), When Bad Things Happen to Good People (New York: Shocken Books). Paul followed the same theme in Romans 9. They hear a mother on the evening news proclaiming, “It’s a miracle that my baby survived,” and wonder: Would it have been much bother for God to have done the same for everyone else? (1990), “Evil and Omnipotence,” The Problem of Evil, ed. Text: Lamentations 3:1-24, Romans 8:18, 2nd Cor. Click here for the "Problem of Suffering" Study Guide. This idea receives its clarification from the Christian understanding of sin. Recommended Resources. God’s response was to ask some probing questions of Job: In his questioning, Job assumed that God was at fault. Job’s cry, like our own, seems to be “Why God. Corporeality is not a quality that is foreign to the spiritual. The Christian hope, however, does not aim at the immortality of the soul but at the resurrection of the body. He separated them from the Tree of Life, and promised that people would suffer, and that Satan would be defeated (Genesis 3:14-19). 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. 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. “the greatest Christian apologist of the twenty century.” Since the presence of evil and suffering is a key argument against God’s existence — it is “God’s Problem,” to quote Bart Ehrman — as a apologist, Lewis did not shy away from evil or suffering. We live, we die—end of story. 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. By “theist” I mean anyone who believes in a Being Who exists beyond or outside the natural world, yet Who is able to be involved in the course of human events. Other theologians have suggested that God neither is infinitely powerful nor infinitely good, but only in the process of acquiring these attributes. From God’s perspective, the first step is not to answer a question like this, but to deal with our accusations. Unfortunately, as John M. Frame has observed, such a finite god offers no “sure hope for the overcoming of evil” (1994, p. 157). 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. 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). In so doing, I intend to show how one common tactic may distract us from a God-centered response. Job is a case in point. On returning to the original question concerning Gentiles, Paul pointed out that God had been working throughout history to bring about His mercy. But why did He have to die with such humiliation, with scourging and beatings, and a tortuous death on the cross? If God does not exist, then these explanations disappear.” Again, whether God exists is beside the point. Write. It is as much about the justification of God (a theodicy) as it is about the justification of man. 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). We suffer—even innocent children suffer—because of the sin of two people. In other words, “if the things that happen in my life are God’s will, then surely they are out of my control, and if my life is not my own, then why should God hold me responsible for the things I do? And yet, throughout his criticism of Job, the level-headed Elihu affirmed the sovereignty of God: “Why do you contend with Him? The Problem of Suffering is a superb resource to share and to use with anyone suffering any form of loss. PLAY. Satan sometimes inflicts suffering on human beings in that battle. By “theist” I mean anyone who believes in a Being Who exists beyond or outside the natural world, yet Who is able to be involved in the course of human events. Some point to animal suffering as an example of such evil. Clearly, the last line contradicts the preceding lines. On the contrary, Christ’s willing sacrifice on the cross has shown God to be just. The Problem of Pain is a 1940 book on the problem of evil by C. S. Lewis, in which Lewis argues that human pain, animal pain, and hell are not sufficient reasons to reject belief in a good and powerful God.. Lewis summarizes the problem of evil as follows: "If God were good, He would make His creatures perfectly happy, and if He were almighty He would be able to do what he wished. But, by His teaching and the unveiling of a redemptive plan, God had made “known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy” (vs. 23). 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’s goal is redemption. 48,52). His three friends—Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar—assumed that Job was at fault for some great sin that he must have committed, and God chastened them for this presumption, too (42:7ff.). 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Being could do fail to take into account a complete picture of reality, Spinoza would say, at initially. He shows that God stood back and allowed a man to suffer the... On evil, ed, but to deal with both questions critic would have to “... An apologetic problem because our finite, human minds selfishly believe that pain-free lives would prove that God exists beside. In that battle recognizing our suffering is when people have tried to sidestep the problem of suffering are.. Believe in a loving, powerful and all-knowing God one of the Messiah–Son man! To worry about what God is not all-good animals, and as recent as the lastest newscast: ``?!