Theodicy

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Paidion
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Theodicy

Post by Paidion » Fri Dec 28, 2012 2:27 pm

Perhaps "Theodicy" should be one of the topics under "Theology".

I think there needs to be more thought given to the age-old "Problem of Evil" which has been one of the chief topics of theological and philosophical discussion for millenia.

I am sure that most of you are familiar with the syllogism as it has been tradionally set out. But for those who may not be, here it is:

1. If God is all-powerful, then He could prevent the horrible suffering which some people are forced to endure (such as torture, painful killing, children being raped and/or psychologically abused, etc.)
2. If God is all-loving then He would prevent such suffering.
3. God does not prevent such suffering — except possibly in rare cases.
4. Therefore, either God is not all-powerful, or He is not all-loving.

Tied in with the problem of evil, is the way in which God is portrayed in the Old Testament as angry and punishing, in contrast to the quite different way in which Christ portrayed His Father as loving all people, as One who is kind to all people including the ungrateful.

1. Some "solve" the problem by claiming that although God is loving, He is also "just" (by which they mean that He punishes people with a terrible vengeance, killing them through war or natural disasters.) Thus they seem to consider God to be the supreme schizophrenic. People who have thought this way in the middle ages have felt justified in torturing to death their theological opponents. After all, they were doing exactly what God Himself does.

2. The gnostics of the second century "solved" the problem by claiming that Yahweh of the Old Testament was a lesser God who thought He was the only God but was mistaken, whereas the loving God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ was the supreme, ineffable God.

3. I have attempted to address the problem by suggesting God does nothing to prevent these atrocities because He does not interfere with the free-will with which He created man (He wants voluntary submission rather that forced submission or a bunch of robots who can not do other than their program dictates), and also that Moses and some of the other prophets may have misunderstood the revelation of Yahweh, or may have also attributed to God their own solutions to wrongdoing. Many will not consider my suggestions because of their suppositon that man does not have free will, or on the grounds that I supposedly "don't believe the Word of God", etc.

I strongly recommend listening to Brad Jersek's theodicy, which is very similar to my own, except that Brad gives more detailed explanations than those which I attempted to give. He also does believe in the inspiration of the whole Bible. Here is a link to an interview with Brad where Brad addresses the problem of evil through his explanation of his "Theology of Consent":

http://www.blubrry.com/beyondthebox/126 ... ad-jersak/
Paidion

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dwilkins
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Re: Theodicy

Post by dwilkins » Fri Dec 28, 2012 9:16 pm

I assume you are familiar with Greg Boyd's theodicy. What about that is unsatisfactory?

Doug

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Paidion
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Re: Theodicy

Post by Paidion » Fri Dec 28, 2012 10:55 pm

Hi Mr. Wilkins,

Yes, I am familiar with Boyd's theodicy. What makes you think that I find some of it unsatisfactory?
Paidion

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Re: Theodicy

Post by dwilkins » Fri Dec 28, 2012 11:33 pm

Boyd's theodicy is based on maximum love for man. Your quote,

"1. Some "solve" the problem by claiming that although God is loving, He is also "just" (by which they mean that He punishes people with a terrible vengeance, killing them through war or natural disasters.) Thus they seem to consider God to be the supreme schizophrenic"

indicated to me that you thought that there was something wrong with his scheme. The fact that it's taken him numerous rewrites and almost 10 years to write what he's now calling "The Crucifixion of the Warrior God" indicates that there is actually something wrong with his approach. I was just wonder what you thought it might be.

Doug

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mattrose
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Re: Theodicy

Post by mattrose » Sat Dec 29, 2012 2:07 am

dwilkins wrote: The fact that it's taken him numerous rewrites and almost 10 years to write what he's now calling "The Crucifixion of the Warrior God" indicates that there is actually something wrong with his approach. I was just wonder what you thought it might be.
I'm not quite sure what you are saying here...

Are you saying there WAS something wrong with his approach, and therefore he had to keep re-writing it?

Or are you saying that the fact that he's re-written it and taken so long indicates that there's something wrong with it?

I don't think either conclusion is necessary, though the former is more likely (though hardly a negative against Boyd). If it's the former, it just shows that he has remained open to improving his position during the writing process. As for the latter, the fact that he's re-written and taken his time doesn't necessarily indicate a problem with his thesis. One could argue the opposite (he thinks it is so right and important that he wants to present it as clearly and powerfully as possible.

I'm very much looking forward to his book.

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Re: Theodicy

Post by Paidion » Sat Dec 29, 2012 11:33 am

dwilkins wrote:Boyd's theodicy is based on maximum love for man. Your quote,

"1. Some "solve" the problem by claiming that although God is loving, He is also "just" (by which they mean that He punishes people with a terrible vengeance, killing them through war or natural disasters.) Thus they seem to consider God to be the supreme schizophrenic"

indicated to me that you thought that there was something wrong with his scheme. The fact that it's taken him numerous rewrites and almost 10 years to write what he's now calling "The Crucifixion of the Warrior God" indicates that there is actually something wrong with his approach. I was just wonder what you thought it might be.
I don't think my quote above is descriptive of Boyd's theology. Rather it better fits those who hold that the suffering and disasters of the world are God's punishment for wrongdoing. It also fits those who hold to eternal conscious torment.
Paidion

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Re: Theodicy

Post by dwilkins » Sun Dec 30, 2012 6:43 pm

Though I understand that Boyd generally attributes things like natural disasters simply to the fallen state of nature and not supernatural causes, it wasn't my impression that he restricts any use of nature in the punishment of sin (I think he'd recognize God's use of nature in the story of Jonah as an example of God causing a natural cataclysm to accomplish his ends). And, he is clearly an annihilationist, so he's fine with a final negative punishment on unbelievers, though he wouldn't make it indefinite.

As far as my critique of Boyd's theodicy goes, the point that I think Boyd has particularly wrong is his overemphasis on the attribute of the love in God's essence. From Boyd's point of view God does everything from the motivation of love. It seems to me to be a similar error to the Calvinist who says that God's justice is his primary lens. I think that if Boyd simply saw God as having a full spectrum personality he would have an easier time digesting God's work in the Old Testament. If he continues to see God as only purely loving his book on the Old Testament is going to seem forced.

Doug

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Re: Theodicy

Post by mattrose » Sun Dec 30, 2012 7:21 pm

dwilkins wrote:As far as my critique of Boyd's theodicy goes, the point that I think Boyd has particularly wrong is his overemphasis on the attribute of the love in God's essence. From Boyd's point of view God does everything from the motivation of love. It seems to me to be a similar error to the Calvinist who says that God's justice is his primary lens. I think that if Boyd simply saw God as having a full spectrum personality he would have an easier time digesting God's work in the Old Testament. If he continues to see God as only purely loving his book on the Old Testament is going to seem forced.

Doug
I'm willing to wait and see if his book seems forced. Have you already made up your mind that such a view (that everything God does is motivated by love) is impossible to reconcile with the facts? If so, fair enough. But I think love, rightly understand, may be a able to account for all things God does.

And even if Boyd fails, I respect him for trying. All he is doing is truly letting Jesus be the clearest revelation of God. I'd rather someone be hard-core about THAT than start with Old Testament revelation and re-interpret Jesus or to start with philosophical theology and re-interpret Jesus.

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Paidion
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Re: Theodicy

Post by Paidion » Sun Dec 30, 2012 7:32 pm

Mr. Wilkins, as you know, the apostle John wrote: "God is LOVE" period. He did not suggest that God was retributive, ordering vicious punishmentts such as the stoning of disobedient children or the cutting off of women's hands.

Wouldn't it be simpler to accept John's description of God as pure LOVE, or Jesus' instruction to love our enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return, for in so doing we will be sons of the Most High who is kind to unthankful and evil people? (Luke 6:35 ) If we can do that, we won't have to believe in a schizophrenic God.
Paidion

Man judges a person by his past deeds, and administers penalties for his wrongdoing. God judges a person by his present character, and disciplines him that he may become righteous.

Avatar shows me at 75 years old. I am now 83.

dwilkins
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Re: Theodicy

Post by dwilkins » Sun Dec 30, 2012 8:22 pm

Where you see a schizophrenic God in one that has multiple sides to his personality I see your description as retarded (which is why Arminians have always said that the problem with Calvinists is that they focus primarily on justice instead of honoring all of God's personality). God is described in numerous ways throughout scripture. I don't think you can chose one lens and force everything into it. Why can't I just take Psalm 89 and say that God is essentially vengeance?

Psalms 94:1-23 (NKJV)
1 O Lord God, to whom vengeance belongs-- O God, to whom vengeance belongs, shine forth!
2 Rise up, O Judge of the earth; Render punishment to the proud.
3 Lord, how long will the wicked, How long will the wicked triumph?
4 They utter speech, and speak insolent things; All the workers of iniquity boast in themselves.
5 They break in pieces Your people, O Lord, And afflict Your heritage.
6 They slay the widow and the stranger, And murder the fatherless.
7 Yet they say, "The Lord does not see, Nor does the God of Jacob understand."
8 Understand, you senseless among the people; And you fools, when will you be wise?
9 He who planted the ear, shall He not hear? He who formed the eye, shall He not see?
10 He who instructs the nations, shall He not correct, He who teaches man knowledge?
11 The Lord knows the thoughts of man, That they are futile.
12 Blessed is the man whom You instruct, O Lord, And teach out of Your law,
13 That You may give him rest from the days of adversity, Until the pit is dug for the wicked.
14 For the Lord will not cast off His people, Nor will He forsake His inheritance.
15 But judgment will return to righteousness, And all the upright in heart will follow it.
16 Who will rise up for me against the evildoers? Who will stand up for me against the workers of iniquity?
17 Unless the Lord had been my help, My soul would soon have settled in silence.
18 If I say, "My foot slips," Your mercy, O Lord, will hold me up.
19 In the multitude of my anxieties within me, Your comforts delight my soul.
20 Shall the throne of iniquity, which devises evil by law, Have fellowship with You?
21 They gather together against the life of the righteous, And condemn innocent blood.
22 But the Lord has been my defense, And my God the rock of my refuge.
23 He has brought on them their own iniquity, And shall cut them off in their own wickedness; The Lord our God shall cut them off.

No normal use of vocabulary (meaning that it would take some real gymnastics to come to Boyd's conclusion in my opinion) would say that God's vengeance against sinners is based on his love.

Doug

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