Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Tsunami Theodicy

Can one, how does one, should one even attempt to respond theologically to a tsunami? The question could be considered in poor taste, and the answer initially no. But the answer becomes yes if only to counter the inadequate attempts. It has been said that philosophy as a discipline is only necessary because there exists so much bad philosophy. So may be the case with theology as well. Here goes...

Christian theodicy is comprised of three mutually contradictory propositions:

1. God is all good. Give up on this and you're a Manichaean.
2. God is all-powerful. Give up on this and you're Alfred North Whitehead.
3. Evil things happen. Give up on this and you're Mary Baker Eddy.

To surrender any one of these points would certainly be logical, but would result in a sub-Christian "answer" to the problem of evil. The Christian religion has no "answer" to the problem of evil. It offers both a whirlwind and a crucified savior instead.

Similar to the way the Church thought her way through the Trinity and Christology, the way forward for Christian theodicy entails subscription to impossible-to-reconcile propositions. By holding in faith to God's goodness and power while refusing to gloss the reality of evil one does lose the benefit of logical comprehension; but retained are the superior resources of hope, prayer, the mystery of the crucifix, and the call to do whatever one can do to help.