God, Medicine, and Suffering

God, Medicine, and Suffering

God, Medicine, and Suffering

God, Medicine, and Suffering

Synopsis

Why does a good and all-powerful God allow us to experience pain and suffering? According to Stanley Hauerwas, asking this question is a theological mistake. Drawing heavily on stories of ill and dying children to illustrate and clarify his discussion of theological-philosophical issues, Hauerwas explores why we so fervently seek explanations for suffering and evil, and he shows how modern medicine has become a god to which we look (in vain) for deliverance from the evils of disease and mortality.

Excerpt

I should like to write a book to help people cope with inexplicable pain and suffering—a book like Harold Kushner's When Bad Things Happen to Good People. To write such a book one would have to be a poet, since only the poets, poets like the Psalmist, know how to touch our souls with words so that we may be comforted. I am not a poet, but only a theologian. So even though this is a book about theodicy, illness, and medicine, I cannot pretend that it can help those who have had a spouse die unexpectedly, who have experienced the death of a child, or who have gone through some equally troubling event.

In this book I make no attempt to explain such evil or to explain why a good and all-powerful God allows us to undergo suffering for seemingly no reason. For a number of reasons that I hope this book will make clear, I am profoundly suspicious of all attempts such as Kushner's to explain why God allows us to experience pain and suffering; put even more strongly, I hope to show why this way of putting the question of suffering is a theological mistake. Even if I were . . .

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