Why does God allow suffering?

I was at an event last night entitled “Has Christianity Failed?” by RZIM where Michael Ramsdem was the main speaker. His second topic was Why does God allow suffering? and he quickly passed the subject off to Vince Vitale who has done his PhD on this topic. I was taken aback to find that Vince only offered a few anecdotal stories and not a theory. I mean, that is what you do for PhD?

I spoke to them today at a second event and was surprised that they could not articulate a theory for suffering. Has anyone seen a concise Christian theory for suffering?

Looks like a setup for the latest podcast. I have not listened yet, but on topic:

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I don’t think you can swing Schrödinger’s cat around in a theology library without hitting a book about it. And they’ll keep writing new books on the subject until the end of time.

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Christian? Yes. Concise? No. Want us to take a stab at it?

Thanks for the post, but all that Dr. Sollereder discusses is “animal suffering” and specifically excludes humans as a participant in her theory, which I find greatly disturbing. I also find it disturbing that she suggests Paul’s writings had a cultural influence and she tries to explain away his writing of the one corrupter because of OT influences. Why don’t theologians accept that Paul’s writings are directly from the Spirit of Truth (John 14:17 15:26 16:13)?

Yes, there are tons of things written about it, but that is why I asked “concise”. I have not found one yet. Including the latest podcast.

People suffer for a host of reasons - including sin, but also because in nature, stuff happens. God uses suffering to help perfect us.

23 words.

Or not.

2 words. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

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Why does God allow suffering? According to the mainstream Christian view, God created Hell, where the people who refuse to follow God’s will are going to be tormented forever and ever and ever. I realize there is a minority controversial position on annihilationism or even universalism, but these are fringe views.

If you read the Old Testament, there was a command to circumcise. Primitive cutting tools coupled with poor hygiene, no doubt, caused much suffering for the little boys and their families. There was a command to kill people by stoning them to death. That’s suffering directly at the command of God. I suspect it’s for these reasons, and probably others, that Christians won’t be able to come up with a good theory anytime soon.

Ahhh - but the question should be: is one of those ‘fringe’ views the more accurate view as opposed to what is often perceived as the ‘mainstream’ take?

I am not sure, considering the Old Testament, that God is very concerned with human suffering. For all the trouble Jesus had to endure, you would think Universalism would be the default position. But, Jesus himself says that narrow is the path that leads to life and few find it.

Theodicy, O Theodicy!
Most maligned and impugned of blessings,
Chained to the hearth of your children’s anger,
Your face turned away,
Back hunched to the stinging blows
of Logic’s cruel offspring Mercy and Justice,
While Wisdom looks on
And laughs at your harvest of tears.
What would we see if we crucified anger?
Love turning ashes to life?

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The insistence on the omni powers of God results in more than one paradox. Theodicy is much easier if you perceive God as an ally of unknown capacity who only sometimes is able (or perhaps willing) to contribute. Children with an overwrought sense of entitlement provoke little sympathy from me.

Dear Mark,
There is a simple, logical explanation for God allowing suffering and it is all stated in the Bible. Jesus came to restore the fallen to Heaven. God gives us many chances to repay our debts to the last farthing (Matt 5:21-26) and becoming perfect as He created us. (Matt 5:44-48) Jesus said He will not let one sheep be lost (Luke 15:4-5) and even the prodigal son [Lucifer] will eventually come home. (Luke 15:11-32)

Suffering is a necessary and important part of life. The lesson of evolution is that, no suffering means no life at all. And preventing suffering can easily go too far, to the point where it will lower the quality of life. Like the eloi in H. G. Well’s “Time Machine” or other books like “The Giver,” where in the effort to eliminate suffering we trade away our humanity and much of the value of life itself. Frankly, the whole question derives from the childish thinking which only wants candy and ice cream.

But what about pointless suffering? But perhaps that begs the question whether there really is any such thing as pointless suffering. It is all the consequence of a universe that operates according to fixed rules and life is about learning those rules. It is a sinful nature that wants to break the rules and cheat on tests, but that only defeats the purpose of the rules and the tests to diminish our potential and degrade our lives.

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