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Providence, Covenant, Christ

In a forthcoming monograph titled Theodicy and the Cross of Christ I will argue that in the New Testament, the Bible, and their world three concepts served as centers of theodicean thinking:

  • Providence: Greek and hellenistic thought
  • Covenant: Jewish thought
  • Christ: Christian theology
  • (There is also a fourth one, Co-suffering: modern thought)

The big question to be answered is why understanding suffering does not emerge as a problem in the New Testament. While attempts to cope with suffering are various and frequent, the perplexed cry “Why?” (found, e.g., in Psalms) as well as attempts to answer it are conspicuously absent.

I suggest that there are two opposite approaches to this question, represented here by people with personal involvement in the issue:

Only the suffering God can help.
– Dietrich Bonhoeffer, death camp victim

Thou who never lost a battle, stand by me!
– Charles Albert Tindley, son of a slave