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  • Print publication year: 2013
  • Online publication date: February 2020

Chapter 2 - Evil and suffering

Summary

In this book, we discuss views of sin and pain, evil and suffering from various sensemaking God-human-and-world approaches. This discussion includes various Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, Jewish, New Age, African Religion and Hindu views. These are negotiated with from the Christian sensemaking God-humanworld approach.

Origins of evil and suffering

Pain and suffering caused by sin and evil have been said to be common experiences shared by all humanity. With this assumption as a backdrop, the following questions have not lost their relevancy:

  • • From where do all evil-doings, processes and events originate?

  • • From where did the HIV virus originate, or out of which set of factors did the virus emerge?

  • • Can natural cosmic events and disasters be related to evil in the world?

  • • Are the majority of religions demonic delusions, or do they sprout from human beings trying to make sense of their universe, and are they reaching out for God as a ‘big brother’ whose perceived otherness and absoluteness protects them from evil forces?

  • • Are human beings inherently prone to sin or to evil?

  • • How do human beings with different sensemaking approaches from different cultures, religions and societies make sense of the evil and suffering experienced in the world?

  • • If there is a God why did he create evil or if he co-exists with evil why does he allow it?

  • • Can God suffer on the cross of Jesus as some of the theological fathers asserted or does the whole of reality have a cruciform nature?

Everything that we say here about God as the one (monotheistic) multidimensional personal God, as good, loving, trusting, compassionate, creative, governing (lord), serving (priest) and speaking (prophet) is said against the background of the mystery of human beings and nature, being interconnected with, but different from God. Thus, according to the monotheistic viewpoint, God is a personal God, good, loving, trusting, compassionate, creative, governing and serving; a God who blesses, has individual personal knowledge and interaction with individual human beings, a God who is father and mother, teacher and healer.

Yet, how could this view of God be reconciled with evil and suffering? To put it pointedly, if there is a god, who is this god and what are the characteristics of this deity?