I received two communications this morning, one in an email from a friend, another in a comment on an earlier post here. Both writers dealt with the subject of theodicy (the problem of evil), each of them from a unique vantage.
First I opened an email from long-time friend, Laurie Burke. She was returning to Tennessee (where she is pursuing a PhD in Clinical Psychology at the University of Memphis) from an APA conference in Baltimore. The conference was on the Psychology of Spirituality and Religion, and she had presented a paper on bereavement distress and complicated grief, her subspecialty. She wrote to tell me of the role theodicy played in many discussions at the conference. One’s ability (or lack of) to reconcile faith in an inherently good God with personal suffering, bereavement, and grief has a profound effect upon one’s ability to process personal loss. This is the practical, intensely personal side of the otherwise philosophical and sometimes dry discussion of the problem of evil.
Second, Mike Gene (author of Design Matrix which I discussed briefly here) commenting on my post entitled “Retroactive Curse?”, accepted my challenge to discuss theodicy from the standpoint of a believer who accepts the findings of modern science and recognizes the centrality of the apparent dilemma which persistent evil poses to Christian theology.
As I have often found it difficult to engage the Christian community in this discussion, I was greatly encouraged to receive these two communications affirming that theodicy matters, and that believers ought to be engaged in coming to terms with the problem of evil.
I had planned to write a more comprehensive detailing of my own theodicy views, but personal challenges in my own life have curtailed my own writing for the present. Then, along come these two writers with some distinct thoughts on the subject. Perhaps they can be persuaded to offer guest posts here. I have asked them to do just that!