God and Human Suffering: An Exercise in the Theology of the Cross

God and Human Suffering: An Exercise in the Theology of the Cross

God and Human Suffering: An Exercise in the Theology of the Cross

God and Human Suffering: An Exercise in the Theology of the Cross

Synopsis

Professor Hall has written a major work on an agonizing subject, at once brilliant, comprehensive, and thought provoking. In contrast to many writers who gloss over one or the other, Dr. Hall is true both to the reality of suffering and to the affirmation that God creates, sustains, and redeems. Creative is his view that certain aspects of what we call suffering -- loneliness, experience of limits, temptation, anxiety -- are necessary parts of God's good creation. These he distinguishes from suffering after the fall, the tragic dimension of life. Unique is his structure: creation-suffering as becoming the fall--suffering as a burden redemption--conquest from within. Professor Hall succeeds in moving the reader beyond the customary way of stating the problem: "How can undeserved suffering coexist with a just and almighty God?" He also evaluates five popular, leading thinkers on suffering: Harold Kushner, C. S. Lewis, Diogenes Allen, George Buttrick, and Leslie Weatherhead.

Excerpt

God … and human suffering! Perhaps the most difficult combination of words in the Christian vocabulary—in the human vocabulary!

The subject has been disturbing my peace of mind for 30 years— perhaps from the beginning of my conscious life. I don’t know why I should have lighted upon this particular problem. Like most of my fellow citizens in this First World—at any rate, most males who are white and middle class—I have not suffered especially. Not, at least, in obvious ways. But two things, I think, have pushed me, unwilling, into the orbit of this issue.

One is that I have been conscious since my adolescence of living at a time when much of human experience has been of the kind denoted in the word suffering. To be concrete: I belong to the age of Auschwitz and Hiroshima…and of the decline of optimism in North America. Beyond that, I sense on the horizon, as do many of my contemporaries, still greater forms of suffering. About these I cannot be blasé: I am a father. Through my children (to one of whom this book is dedicated) I have been granted that special grace (sheer grace!) that allows, sometimes, the members of one generation, having had a good part of its day, to reflect existentially on . . .

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