Friday, January 23, 2009

Problem of Pain

Before I start this blog, I just want to say that I have been thoroughly enjoying the class. It's so refreshing to think and talk about the foundation to which ALL Christians stand.


The Problem of Pain is C.S. Lewis' attempt at a theodicy. I say 'attempt' because we'll never be able to define God's relationship to suffering. We're playing a basketball game without any rims - some think they scored while others think they missed, but we don't know because we have nothing to measure it by.

Any way we think of God and his relationship to suffering, there is a fault.

C.S. Lewis says that without suffering, we would not need God. I believe this to be true. This is not up for debate.

The troublesome part of a theodicy is the source of suffering. We can all agree that God does allow it to happen. But does he send it himself? Is it Satan's doing? Are we responsible?

If God sends us suffering, he takes on a sort of malevolent quality. Not only that, but it makes God seem like he is holding back. God is infinitely wise...therefore it seems fitting that he knows an infinite amount of ways to transform us without having to use suffering. I find it hard to believe that God sends suffering himself.

Does Satan send suffering? He indeed distorts what is good, but then he must be allowed to do it. This makes God seem weak. He is allowing the suffering of his children to happen, and by choice.

Are we responsible? This becomes confusing. We have the god-like qualities to create but also to destroy. We are capable of perversion ourselves. Are we living in a way that allows too much death? Are we not focusing enough on medicines and laws and education? This seems like too heavy of a task for this also seems unlikely.

Whatever the source, we indeed encounter suffering.

But does God suffer?

Yes, I wholeheartedly believe he does.

I think there are two obvious biblical pointers for this:

First, God gets angry. Anger can be righteous, but it stems from some sort of suffering (usually an act of unfairness). God does not get angry for no reason.

Second, the Garden of Eden. When Adam and Eve ate from the tree of knowledge, they were told they would become like God. They knew evil. God knows evil. Evil is a distortion of good. If God did not suffer from this, he would be much more apathetic towards his creation. Suffering drives progression.

But God is not below suffering. He is beyond it. Without his creation, suffering would not exist. No matter where it comes from, God subjects himself to this. The way I think of it is like a board game. God created this entire creation and gave us all these rules (moral law, gravitation...etc) and he abides by them. Like I've said in previous post, God operates within his own laws (that's why Jesus was the only way). If God were to not suffer, he would be operating outside of his own creation. It's like creating this board game, giving these rules but only to pertain to everyone else. It's almost like cheating. But of course, it's much more complicated to a board game, this is just a simple analogy.

My conclusion from this, and every other piece of C.S. Lewis is this: Thinking and pondering all of these thoughts of theology are good things, but they are not vital. C.S. Lewis has taught me to think in a rational way and to focus on what matters to us. In other words, things we can change and HAVE to go through.

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