In the book God’s Problem: How the Bible Fails to Answer Our Most Important Questions—Why We Suffer (New York: Harper One, 2008), Bart D. Ehrman examines the various explanations for suffering presented in the text of the Christian Bible. Ehrman, a New Testament textual critic and James A. Gray Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, has written a number of books concerning the text of the Christian Bible, and here presents an exegetical treatment of a contemporary question for the general public. God’s Problem is a New York Times Best Seller, indicating Ehrman’s popularity and the ever-increasing interest that the general public has in answers for life’s questions. In this book, Ehrman gives consideration to various Biblical perspectives and presents the positions in sections dealing with the Classical view of suffering, the Consequential view of suffering, the answer of Redemptive suffering, the Question of Questionable and Meaningless suffering, and the Apocalyptic view of suffering. This review will examine Ehrman’s general perspective on these various positions and additionally his position as presented as the book as a whole. Continue reading
This article originally appeared on Conciliar Post.
In my yesterday’s post, I reflected on some of the answers which have been offered to the “question of suffering,” the query about why there is evil and suffering in the world if there is a good and all-powerful God. In today’s post, I hope to begin crafting an “answer” to this question—not an answer in an absolute sense, but rather an perception and understanding by which we can try to make some sense of suffering and loss.
How do we understand and respond to all of the suffering that we see and experience in the world? Douglas John Hall, in his book God and Human Suffering, makes the claim that perhaps it best to think of certain forms of suffering as somehow innate to the human condition—necessary consequences of the limitations of humanity.1 Put another way, freedom is always freedom within certain boundaries—perhaps human suffering arises due to our transgressing our boundaries.2 Plenty of philosophers have tackled this issue: when free agents are created, true freedom necessitates the possibility of using that freedom to engage in activities which inhibit the freedom of other agents.3 Oxford professor Mike Lloyd argues that a measure of free will for humanity is necessary in understanding the issue of evil and suffering, for without freedom there can be no justice (men cannot be held accountable for their actions unless they are free) and no love (the love of predetermined robots is not real love).4
Having surveyed the general contours of Oberman and Hendrix the past two days, we now turn to scholar Robert Kolb and his assessment of the person and theology of Martin Luther. Kolb begins his work, Martin Luther: Confessor of the Faith, with a statement introducing the limited scope of his endeavor, writing that “Luther’s thought, as complex as his perception of human life, as nuanced as he believed the Biblical message to be, defies adequate summary.” Kolb later purposes his work as a presentation that, “seeks to help readers begin to engage Luther’s way of thinking, the Wittenberg way of practicing theology and confessing the Christian faith in teaching and living.” Throughout his work, Kolb presents his readers with a view of Luther that emphasizes his formative influences, as well as his Theology of the Cross and its implications on the relationship between God and man. We will give further treatment to Luther’s formative educational experiences and influences below; here we will consider Kolb’s emphasis on Luther’s theology of the cross and his definition of the God-man relationship. Continue reading