Theodicy

20 posts

Suffering: “Our net of meaning is too small.”

To the ‘why’ of suffering we get no firm answer. Of course some suffering is easily seen to be the result of our sin: war, assault, poverty amidst plenty, the hurtful word. And maybe some is chastisement. But not all. The meaning of the remainder is not told us. It eludes us. Our net of meaning is too small. There’s more to our suffering than our guilt. Nicholas Wolterstorff, Lament for a Son, (Grand Rapids, […]

Confusion is Sovereign

Warning: This short post is the definition of pedantic. I am going to quibble with the use of the word “sovereign” as applied to God by many Reformed theologians.  It is not surprising that exploring the topic of suffering and grace has led me to consider questions of humanity’s free will, predestination, and God’s sovereignty. For many, the origins and purpose of suffering are directly related to the latter, God’s control over all of creation and history. If God is truly “sovereign” then all events in our lives are controlled and dictated by God. God truly is sovereign . […]

The Divine Perspective: Open Theism and Human Will

[TLDR: Open theism is appealing, but, like Reformed theology today, it insists on looking at things from a human rather than divine perspective of history.] Ages ago, so long ago, in fact, that I do not remember the time or the day or even the year, I realized that I could not hold to a strict belief that God had ordained, structured, determined, and ordered, every final detail of history. Whether one calls it Calvinism, […]

The Grace of Together

After tragedy has occurred to us, fallen upon us, how do we walk on, lacing up those painful shoes I talked about in my poor analogy? How do we carry on, day after day? We must begin by being open to and accepting the grace that is offered to us. I consider what happed to the Man and the Woman after they had chosen to forge their own path, a path that led away from God […]

To every thing there is a season.

“It is what it is”

“It is what it is.” A phrase people utter when they are enduring a hardship or, just as often, when there is a problem they would rather not deal with. It is what it is. A horrible, trite phrase. Used all the time, devoid of any real meaning, and all too often intended as a justification for inaction, only slightly more articulate than the monosyllabic “meh,” accompanied by the shrug of the shoulders. It is […]

News from Nashville

This year, after nearly 20 years as both an faculty member and an academic administrator, I am on my first-ever academic leave and, as readers of the blog know, I am working my book on suffering and grace. But two months ago I was contacted and asked if I would consider spending my time in Nashville as the interim rector of St. Bartholomew’s. After an interview process, the vestry decided to extend the call and I […]

“Suffering and Grace” at Orchard Hill Church

This is the link to the sermon I preached a few weeks ago at Orchard Hill Church in Wexford, PA. The audio file is below as well. http://orchardhill.s3.amazonaws.com/audio/16_08_14.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 29:13 — 53.5MB)  

Gen. 50:20 – Did God “plan” or did he “reckon”?

Gen. 50:20 ואתם חשבתם עלי רעה אלהים חשבה לטבה This passage is the climax of the Joseph cycle, as his brothers realize that it is their brother Joseph, whom they had sold into slavery, who is now lord in Egypt and holds their fate in his hands. Gen. 50:18 Then his brothers also wept, fell down before him, and said, “We are here as your slaves.” 19 But Joseph said to them, “Do not be […]