Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A three-fold theodicy

"Against these three temptations [solution by universal order, solution by autonomous freed and solution by dialectic reasoning], Scripture raises the triple affirmations: that evil is evil, that the Lord is sovereign  and that God is good, his creation also being good with similar kind of goodness." (Henri Blocher, Evil and the Cross, 85)
These three affirmations form a "T" says Blocher, or in my mind they a triangular boundary ▲ surrounding our Biblical theodicy (Which is the classic moral and apologetic problem; "If there is a good God why is there evil in the world?"). The centre of which is an "opaque enigma" (p102), a sad mystery unlike the joyful mysteries of the Trinity or the Incarnation. Blocher goes on to give the following warning: "water down one of the three affirmations, and evil to some extent becomes excusable" (p102). So although a Scriptural theodicy doesn't provide an answer to why evil is present in the world, we are able to affirm, in the light of Blocher's ▲ the following four statements about the presence of evil.

What we able to say about Evil in this world:
  1. It is always denounced
  2. It tends to non-being
  3. It flows from Freedom
  4. It enters into the plan of God
But a Scriptural theodicy isn't just about defining the extent of the problem, it's also about finding a solution; answering the next question: "what should we do about evil?"  Blocher writes this:
God battles with evil, and will conquer it.  Or rather, God has battled with it and he has conquered it.  We have kept the supreme consideration to the end: that the other 'T' formed by two small beams of wood on the hill called Golgotha, Skull Hill.  There the darkness of the mystery deepened, from the sixth hour until the ninth, the place from which shines forth the light [✝]. (p103)
The solution is three-fold:
  1. The Lord Jesus suffers for my evil 
  2. The Crucifixion could only take place within God's control
  3. The death of Jesus reveals a pure love, it's basis is the unadulterated goodness of God
For those who are interested in the detail behind my summary I've included the relevant (and annotated!) chapter of Evil and the Cross by Henri Blocher. (Thankfully I fall five pages under the (Australian) 10% limit for research.)
Chapter 4 'Scripture on Evil' by Blocher