The Creative Suffering of the Triune God: An Evolutionary Theology

The Creative Suffering of the Triune God: An Evolutionary Theology

The Creative Suffering of the Triune God: An Evolutionary Theology

The Creative Suffering of the Triune God: An Evolutionary Theology


The global reality of suffering and death has always demanded an authentic theological response and impelled debate concerning Gods relationship to suffering, as well as the conceivability of the suffering of God. The scope and impact of this suffering in the last century have driven this debate to an acute pitch, demanding to know how one can speak rightly of God in view of the suffering that is inherent and inflicted in the cosmos. While in former ages, some looked to an omnipotent and impassible deus ex machina in answer to this question, many contemporary theologians have revised their understanding of God in relation to the world.

With these theologians, Gloria Schaab proposes that a viable response to cosmic suffering is the recognition that the triune Christian God participates in the very sufferings of the cosmos itself. She sets her argument within theology and science dialogue and specifically within the work of scientist-theologian Arthur Peacocke. Informed by the understandings of evolutionary science, grounded within a panentheistic paradigm of the God-world relationship, and rooted within the Christian theological tradition, this work contends that the understanding of the Triune God as intimately involved with the suffering of the cosmos is viable and efficacious in view of the suffering of the cosmos and its creatures. It develops a female procreative model of the creative suffering of the Triune God, an ecological ethics based on the midwife model of care, and a pastoral model of threefold differentiation of suffering in God as steps toward Christian praxis in response to the mystery of God within the pain, suffering, and death of cosmic existence and human experience.


Sometimes the terminology of theology sits ill at ease with the spiritual instincts of those who deploy it. The sense of God’s prevailing immanence in the world that is the locus of divine creation is not, for example, well served by the term panentheism, whose definition is “the belief that the Being of God includes and penetrates the whole universe, so that every part of it exists in Him, but (as against Pantheism) that His Being is more than, and is not exhausted by, the universe.” This sense of divine transcendence-in-immanence has long been impressed on me through the recognition that contemporary science unveils a world in which self-organization and selfcomplexification, coupled with natural selection, are apparently the means, inter alia, whereby in the natural world there have been evolved new forms of matter—both nonliving and living, both insentient and conscious, both sensitive and self-conscious. No wonder that in the seventeenth century, which saw the birth and efflorescence of natural science, as we now call it, into a new realm of human creativity a priest-poet could exclaim,

The WORLD is unknown till the Value and Glory of it is seen,

till the Beauty and Serviceableness of all its parts is

When you enter into it, it is an Unlimited field of Variety
and Beauty

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.