Ordinary Theodicy (2015)

This piece of research was completed as part of my Master’s degree and was awarded a merit. It entailed interviewing willing participants about their beliefs and views regarding the problem of evil and suffering.

Introduction

The fact of evil constitutes the most serious objection to the Christian belief in a God of love (Hick 1988: ix).

The above quote taken from John Hick’s Evil and the God of Love (1988) highlights the significant challenge made to theistic belief in God, by the presence of evil and suffering in the world. Theologians and Christian philosophers have pondered the relationship between God’s loving nature, and the realities of evil throughout Christian history. The conclusions reached by patristic theologians Augustine and Irenaeus, and more recently theologians such as John Cobb, John Hick, John Roth and James Cone have offered those within academic spheres an interesting line of enquiry to pursue in their study of theodicy; but how do those without any knowledge of such theologies begin to grapple with the complexities of asserting that God is benevolent whilst acknowledging that bad things do in fact happen?

This study is based on conversations had with ordinary Christian believers and those who have at some point ‘lost’ their faith, on the problem of evil and suffering. Although the majority of those interviewed for the purpose of this research have academic backgrounds, they have not had any formal theological education or training. The conclusions arrived at in this study can by no means offer a comprehensive solution to this complex area of Christian theology; more it serves as an interesting insight into the theodicies offered by ordinary theologians.

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Liberal theology. Liberal politics.