God and Human suffering: A Critique of Keith Ward’s Theodicy | Joseph Fernandes - badz.info
After being baptized in the Jordan River, Jesus looks heavenward Fact: The opportunity to have a relationship with God and gain salvation is open to all. God.” (Romans 9:16) The expression “born again” can also be rendered “born from. What a relationship with God means is that we are receiving is that our lives are going Godward while his life toward us is coming manward. Such a view of Christian belief may seem new both to some Christians and to those generally interested in the nature and relationship of.
Covenant in the sense of committed relationship applies to creation as such, and it comes to a specially focussed expression in the case of humanity. We must not think of creation in the beginning as a natural order to which is added a supernatural order subsequently so that man can relate to God. Rather, all creation is in a dependent relationship to God as its Sovereign, King and Lord. This is the same as saying creation as such is in a covenant relationship since all creation is to live in accordance with the charter given.
For humanity, all of life is fundamentally religious because all is lived before the face of God, either obediently in his service or disobediently in the service of an idol. There is an absolute difference between the Creator and the creation. God is its Originator and Ruler, and it is accountable to him.
God administers his rule by way of covenant. I think this would be a somewhat speculative construction that does not mesh well with a careful assessment of Scripture. It risks thinking in terms of a dualism unwarranted by Scripture. It can also refer to the king as the adopted son of a god fulfilling the role of representing the god in a portion of his kingdom.
The first man is thus correctly recognised as the son of God Luke 3: The image or likeness the terms appear to be interchangeable is not some spiritual part of man only, but his totality. Note the way Jesus is described as the express image of the invisible God Hebrew 1: Labour has a purpose, and creation has a goal. The seventh day shows that work is not an end in itself, but has its proper place when it is consecrated to God as we subdue the earth in his name.
The description in Genesis 2 of the making of the human does highlight the unique position of the man. Still, being from the earth he remains dependent on it. He needs and receives food as surely as fresh air. He needs and receives daylight for labour and night for sleep. He needs and receives a place of sanctuary, where he may worship and obey the LORD so that he may fulfil his task properly in the world beyond the garden with all its rich potential 2: He needs and receives a woman as a companion and covenant partner 2: The two become one and the race is multiplied.
All these are rich blessings, but these blessings also speak of limitations, of that which is temporary in contrast to the promise of eternal life. Adam is at the beginning of a history with obedience to be given and a reward to be gained.
What is natural is first, only later the spiritual 1 Corinthians We must not idealise conditions in the world before sin. The state of innocence in paradise is far surpassed by the state of glory in the new Jerusalem. Put another way, we can say there was an eschatology before there was sin, that is, a glorious destiny was in view of which the tree of life in Genesis 2 was also a token.
Creation at the beginning was not like it will be in the end, when it will be richer and more enduring. God and the righteous Adam The first Adam was created innocent and holy, in the image of God, with the law of God written on his heart, and therefore God delighted in him and loved him, and the creature likewise delighted in God.
Likeness is the basis of fellowship and love. God cannot help loving such a creature just as he cannot but delight in himself. God wants that creature to be a close confident, a friend, a lover. Once he had determined to create such a creature he could not but desire to share his riches with him.
This kind of relationship is not something incidental or peripheral. The covenant is the means by which God relates to his creation.
The category of love is fundamental but so is the category of law. These categories are not mutually exclusive but complementary. It is not suitable to describe the original relationship of God and Adam as one of love without law nor can it be described properly simply in contract terms. We do not make the separation in a marriage covenant, still less may we in the relationship with God.
There are specific contract terms, and if there are blessings in Genesis 1, there is a curse threatened in Genesis 2. Yet the relationship is not and cannot be a mere formal and legal one. Adam had personal communion in righteousness with God from the beginning, and he was to be obedient in the covenant relationship.
The covenant relationship at creation is expressed in a highly focussed form in a specific arrangement with Adam described in Genesis 2: In this arrangement the common idea is present of a covenant as an agreement involving mutual faithfulness to the stated obligations, and for the lesser party manto receive a blessing of great richness from the greater party God. It is true that the promise is not explicit in these verses, but the threat of death for disobedience implies the promise of life for obedience, and several features already noted in the context say the same.
These include the blessing of humanity at creation Gen 1: This is used only 16 times elsewhere in the Old Testament. As the original relationship it may be called the covenant of creation. As it was to be fulfilled by man in the strength with which he is endowed it may be called the covenant of nature. Being made with Adam before sin it may be called the covenant of innocence. As made between parties who were friends it may be called the covenant of friendship.
The blessing in view may lead us to call it a covenant of life, while the requirement of obedience to God suggests the term legal covenant, covenant of obedience or covenant of works. Consideration of the tender love and generosity God showed may suggest the term covenant of favour.
A more neutral term could be Adamic covenant. I remain mindful of the problems of terminology, but the terminology is not the issue. The distinctive significance of the Adamic covenant is the issue, and it must be seen as one requiring obedience to the covenant terms as the principle required in order to the blessing.
In Protestant theology covenant of works has been the common expression and is contrasted with the covenant of grace instituted after the entry of sin. The covenant of grace is not a separate covenant so much as that development necessitated by the fact that God, confronted by sin, does not abandon his covenanted commitment to his creation but relates to it redemptively.
Life and death were set before him, blessings and curses, as we have seen. The other class of moral beings of which we have some knowledge, the angels, were in the same position too. However, they were not created as a race but as individuals. In their testing some fell and some stood firm 2 Peter 2: Put another way, we may reverently say that, so far as we are aware, God could not create a moral creature free from the possibility of disobedience.
God is motivated by love: But if the creature is free the possibility of disobedience exists. How can humans be brought to a position where the possibility of disobedience no longer exists? Those who are required to obey God perfectly anyway, can never bring God under obligation.
Ward God, Faith and the New Millenium: Belief in an Age of Science, Oxford: As these events take place, God is not just an observer, as 'the system cannot exist, even for a second, without God. This is in part the reasoning behind what he calls 'the fallacy of omnipotence'. Ward states that this is a 'fallacy' and a 'mistake' 36 as shown by science, and 'we should not think of God as able to intend absolutely anything at all.
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Therefore we must be careful when saying that God could or could not have done something. We know something that God will never be able to know; that is we know what it is to be wrong. But he does not interfere and respects our independence by giving us the freedom to choose which one we will follow. The options and outcomes are pre-determined, but our choice is not. If we 40 Ward,p. With freedom comes the possibility of choosing evil, which God does not prevent, but which clearly goes against God's purpose for humankind to use freedom to grow in love and wisdom.
According to Ward conflict and suffering are an integral part of the universe and coexist with altruistic and selfless values, but they cannot be blamed on God. Ward acknowledges that it is important to distinguish between people crying in agony over something that they cannot comprehend and the contradiction central to theistic belief. This requires theists to elaborate the lack of contradiction in the belief in a good and omnipotent God. God can work through suffering in ways that are not always apparent, and it is neither an end in itself or permanent, but the means to a greater end.
It is a problem that poses difficult questions, with answers that are often notable only by their absence or inadequacy.
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For many Christians as it gives a feeling of hopelessness with many saying that there is no way of explaining all the pain and suffering in the world. If God does not desire suffering why do we suffer now? Is it morally wrong that God created a world that contains so much suffering, as nothing exists without the will of God?
This is not linear and they can overlap. God loves his creation and engages in relationships with human beings, taking 'the risk of rejection and suffering. McGrath agrees with this and describes how the Christian faith is focused on pain and suffering through the cross of Christ. Swinburne, Providence and the Problem of Evil, p. At the same time we must not limit the cross to the suffering of Christ, but ensure that we give the overcoming of death and the hope of the resurrection a central role.
Theologians such as Brassnett,57 Moltmann,58Fiddes59 argue that God does suffer, based on the understanding that the Father suffers with the Son on the cross, and this is deeply ingrained in the selfless act of love. In the light of the resurrected Jesus, human suffering is radically transformed through the Holy Spirit.
According to them, in order for God to be fully accepted by human beings he must be able to experience suffering, and in this sense he is affected by evil.
Surin, Theology and the Problem of Evil, p. Brasnett, Suffering of the Impassible God. Moltmann, History and The Triunep. Fiddes, The Creative Suffering of God. In my opinion God's plans were for humankind to maintain loving relationships with God and one another, but with freewill comes pain and suffering which God could not eliminate 63 Bonhoffer, quoted in Weinandy,p. Robinson, Suffering Human and Divine, p.
This does not mean that he is impassive to this suffering and through Christ we were redeemed, for those who accept this offer of salvation.
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Suffering as Evil The existence of God and evil are integral and central ingredients in the worldwide view of religious believers, and there is no logical incompatibility here, 78 but the belief in an ethically perfect God is deeply challenged by the existence of evil and more particularly horrendous evils. A perfectly good and omnipotent God would not wish to create suffering, and he would be able to prevent any suffering. But there is suffering, and an immense amount of it, in this world. Therefore there is no good and omnipotent creator.
It should not be seen as a justification of actual evil, which as mentioned earlier, is not wanted by God and should be fought. Theodicy for a World of Suffering, p. This raises the question that perhaps it would have been better to create a less independent world with less suffering? Ward answers by saying that we are what we are as human beings because of the way of we have been created in this particular universe and would not have existed otherwise.
God cannot create a universe in which free creatures always choose the good.
Nor can he make the laws of nature, which bring about much natural suffering, quite other than they are, while still creating us, since we can only exist in this universe, with these laws. According to Ward humans have the freedom to reject God. Could God have created human beings with freedom that would not include evil?
Ward seems to believe that this is a possibility, as opposed to independent human beings without inclinations to evil. Swinburne mentions that there is a self-chosen reason for God not to intervene, a view shared by Ward, who adds that there are other restrictions.
Natural evil Ward uses indeterminism to explain natural evil.
According to him it is only possible for humankind to have free will in an undetermined world. The bad side of this is that it generates the occurrence of natural evils such as diseases and natural disasters, as indeterminism is correlated with causeless and unpredicted events. These evils are not the result of intentional human actions. Sovik argues that this was not the case. According to him the universe was purposely 92 Ward,pp.Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. - 1x22: Ward, Skye and May
Moore quoted in Surin,p. Conclusion Ward does not believe that God faced a choice between creating this universe and a better one. In a multiple universes scenario our world would not be the same if suffering did not exist altogether. This does not mean that God does takes pleasure in the suffering of his creation and good can have the last word, even if in unexpected circumstances.
God does will suffering to happen, but he would not intend it for its own sake, and wherever possible he would always desire its elimination. Also, if God is good we assume he does not want evil, and if he is omnipotent he could stop the existence of evil. Based on this we could expect that evil would not be able to exist in this world and yet we witness it all around. Many of our views can limit him and create an image that makes him serve our interests.
Sobrino, Where is God? Earthquake, Terrorism, Barbarity, and Hope, p. Ward Divine Action: