I just saw this on John Hobbins’ blog, Ancient Hebrew Poetry. John’s a friend of mine, and his blog is a good one. He writes:
Eastern Orthodox theologian David B. Hart blasts away at all the latter-day comforters of Job, who, in the wake of the disasters that have hit China and Myanmar, speak glibly of God’s providence according to which punishments and rewards are distributed according to our just deserts. He nails it with this affirmation:
[T]here is no more liberating knowledge given us by the gospel – and none in which we should find more comfort – than the knowledge that suffering and death, considered in themselves, have no ultimate meaning at all.
The same truth is jealously guarded by Judaism. Which is why Judaism, no less than Christianity, would be without meaning without the hope of resurrection. Suffering and death have no meaning whatsoever except insofar as they will be vanquished forever. Think about it until the point sticks. Otherwise, I dare say, the one who would be God’s defender becomes God’s enemy.
Check out the link to David Hart’s piece. It’s well worth it.
If you were a subscriber to my pre-blog newsletter, and thus a reader of my “book-in-progress,” you’ll want to re-read Chapter 4 as well. It’s the Chapter on how sovereignty needs to be redefined, how free will is inextricably linked to the concept of humans being imagers of God (an angle you may never find anywhere else), and how traditional approaches to sovereignty and free will like Calvinism, and newer approaches like Open Theism, both miss the mark when it comes to free will, sovereignty, and theodicy. In brief, evil is a direct result of free will, itself a necessary attribute of being an imager of God, perverted by rebellion. Evil happens because people choose evil; because they exercise a communicable attribute (freedom) for their own selfish, rebellious ends. And yet this is preferable to the alternative of there being no imagers. And God, being able and willing to steer all things back toward his original, intended “heaven meets earth” life for humanity, considers suffering and death to have no meaning, knowing that all things will be made new. For the death of the innocent (and there is such a category), this is especially comforting.