Saturday, 29 May 2010

Theodicy - Some Views, part 4

In my theology course I have chosen to write on the issue of Theodicy. Like the topic of Scripture, it seems that whatever view you hold to on God's justice and the existence of evil and suffering in this world, someone out there has written on it. I think to help me write this essay I might push out some different views on the idea.

God's Discipline

Another view looking into God's reason for suffering and evil in the world is because it is His way of disciplining His children. Throughout the Old Testament God repeatedly warns His people to turn back to Him, otherwise disaster will come for them. Also in Hebrews 12:5-11 we have:
And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?
"My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
   nor be weary when reproved by him.
For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
   and chastises every son whom he receives."
It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
Here it seems that suffering and even death (check out just before this passage Heb 11:36-40) comes from God's hand for discipline. God, like a human father, corrects His children for their own good, and sometimes it is painful. This gives a divine meaning behind our suffering. While I don't want to negate what Hebrews says, I don't think this answer is a universal one in all situations. Sometimes suffering isn’t a character building exercise as it can crush people. Yancey once put that that suffering is likely to reinforce faith as to sow agnosticism. If God’s discipline is the only reason for evil and suffering we would be right to ask what type of educational system this is, as it destroys as many people as it builds.


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