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Beautiful post. Glad I stopped by!


Many theologians have made heavy weather of the fact that offering theodicies is somehow impious or inappropriate for Christians. I appreciated your more measured approach. Certainly, if it's ok for the fathers of the church to speculate on matters such as the personhood of Christ or the nature of the Trinity, it's also ok for us to think hard about the reasons why there is evil and why God might permit it.

Thomas More

I'm reminded of Gen. 50:20. That verse, however, is difficult to translate to practical comfort when sitting with a friend in a hospital, or hearing of wars and woes.


The body of this article is excellent. Loved the stuff about defences as opposed to theodicies; about the characteristically Christian ability to move towards suffering sometimes, and not always away from it; the possibility of mercy in divine silence (because God's voice would be yet more terrible); the impiousness of trying to judge the Judge of All.

Less convinced by the conclusion that "one has to keep reading the news". That doesn't really follow from what has been said in the rest of the article. Most news reports are deeply inaccurate. Much of what passes as newsworthy is just gossip or schadenfreude. Even where it's factually accurate and of genuine public interest, one has to question the news editors' priorities in highlighting bad news as much as they tend to do. What about the scriptural exhortation to think on things that are pure, lovely, noble, honourable, etc? Newspapers, even where they are at their best, rarely encourage that attitude.

But apart from this point, the article was very good, I felt: interesting, thoughtful, humane, articulate, theologically informed, pastorally sensitive. Thank you.


Thank you St Nicodemus. This is an excellent post. It brings two things to mind-

A TV doctor this morning made the point that the recent swine flu outbreak is causing panic simply because we have too much information. We know when the first case is recorded, the second, the third, then how many countries it's spread to...it's too much fuel for our imaginations. We should be taking care of our health, of course, but in this case the non-relevant details are making us more anxious.
It also reminds me of a question a Sunday school teacher friend of mine asked me recently. A friend of hers had advised her to avoid teaching from the Old Testament, because it was full of events too traumatic for children. She asked me what I thought of that. I was stunned by the question and strongly disagreed with her friends advice. I suggested there were ways to present the OT stories in age-appropriate ways, stressing the themes of God's judgement, protection, deliverance, faithfulness etc. But this raises another question: To what extent do you protect children from the news, or even the harsh realities of scripture? Can we encourage them to take the defensive approach you describe, St. Nicodemus?


Thanks, all, for so many interesting comments. Like Thomas More, it seems more and more apparent to me that one has to distinguish the Theological, the Apologetic, and the Pastoral dimension of "defenses". What works for Xians isn't necessarily what works for non-Xians and neither are generally pastorally suitable for people amidst suffering. Also, to clarify for Muggeridge, I wasn't implying that human news was worth reading per se - so much of it is propaganda! It's also strangely addictive. Instead, I meant that "we have to keep reading the news" in that news, good news, i.e. the gospel, is yet to be perfected in full force. The very God who "makes all things new", our Editor in Chief, gets the last words in on history. The long-term, i.e. eschatological, hope concerning evil & suffering is required and the content of that hope is yet to be revealed.

Like you, Philomena, I think it best to give OT stories in an age-appropriate fashion, and not omit them. As our children don't even have a TV in the house, you can imagine what I think about exposing children to contemporary affairs. I prefer to stake the tree and let it grow roots before exposing it to the hurricane....

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