It seems as if, to some Christians, God deserves all the credit for the things that are right with the world, and we deserve all the blame when things go wrong. So, to such folk, the collapse of the bridge in Minnesota is another example of God's will, and we should all follow William Munny, Clint Eastwood's character in his film Unforgiven, who remarks, "We all got it coming, kid."

OK, reality check. This stuff makes me shake my head. The fact is, the problem of evil (theodicy) and the question of free will may be related, but you just can't invoke either one either to condemn all of humankind willy-nilly, or to justify an individual's death or suffering, or (conversely) argue that God is 'off the hook' and not responsible for death and suffering. I have no interest in any position, Christian or otherwise, that demeans either our conception of God (a cosmic tyrant?) or the image of our own human dignity.

To that end, I would like to commend this short but deeply insightful book by Leslie Weatherhead, a English Methodist pastor who addressed the problem of evil in the world and God's will during the Blitz. The distinction he makes between God's intentional, circumstantial and ultimate will is useful, to put it mildly.

1 comment:

Dave C said...

Hi there
I bought the book after reading your blog and have just started in on reading it. It is short but has already raised a few issues that will require me to think a bit further.
The separation of the various types of wills of god is interesting, however at first glance it seems to contradict the traditional western definition of god.
I'll finish reading it this time and one more time and then write some thoughts up.
One thing I can say about it is that the author's questioning of a trite statement is very interesting and certainly raises questions about the real faith of the bereaved in his examples.
Thanks for mentioning this book.