Robert Jenson on theodicy

Robert Jenson on theodicies

“All theodicies must eventually fail, whatever wisdom they may yield on the way. The evil and sin in God’s creation will always be reason to deny him; Luther’s rationalist will always have arguments for his conclusion. If we join the creeds against nihilism on the one hand and gnostics on the other, or against contemporary fusion of the two, our confession of a good Creator is and will remain a great ‘nevertheless,’ a defiance of what we would otherwise conclude. We may, however, explore the ‘nevertheless’ from within. […]

“Would any one sin or any one of history’s horrors have had to happen? No. Would the world have been another world without any particular selection of these? No. For sins and for horrors we can only repent and weep. Nevertheless we may give the last word to Maximus the Confessor, a man better acquainted with horror than most, and to the story of Jesus: ‘The one who knows the mystery of the cross and the tomb, knows the reasons of things. The one who is initiated into the infinite power of the Resurrection, knows the purpose for which God knowingly created all.’

“Maximus’s knowledge is that of initiates, into a mystery-event. Those who are baptized into Christ’s death and say ‘Amen’ to the Eucharist’s prayers and behold the Fraction of the bread that is Christ’s body, these are the ones who know the goodness of the creation, also as it is plotted by Christ’s suffering, and so also, somehow, as it is plotted by the sin for which he suffered and the evil that he suffered. The great ‘nevertheless’ cannot finally be resolved from the conceptual outside; but it can be liturgically inhabited.”

From Systematic Theology: The Works of God, Vol II., (OUP, 1999), 23-4.

One thought on “Robert Jenson on theodicy

  1. Augustine taught that evil is simply a privation of good. We read that God’s creation is good, not perfect: it contains many good things, but also lacks many good things, and therefore, suffers privations. Some of these privations, viz. moral evil, we bring upon ouselves by disobeying the Divine Law. I notice that people who are dissatisfied with privations tend to do one of two things: either they hurl insults at the Creator and His friends or they pray to God to supply good things if it be His will and for their good. God bless!

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