The Doors of the Sea: Where Was God in the Tsunami? by David Bentley Hart

The cross of Christ is not, after all, simply an eternal validation of pain and death, but their overthrow. If all the tribulations of this world were to be written off as calculably necessary contributions to redemption – part of the great “balance” of things – then Christ’s sacrifice would not be a unique saving act so much as the metaphysical ground for the universe of “sacrifice,” wherein suffering and death are part of the sublime and inevitable fabric of finitude; and divine providence would be indistinguishable from fate. (80)

It makes a considerable difference, however – nothing less than our understanding of the nature of God is at stake – whether one says that God has eternally willed the history of sin and death, and all that comes to pass therein, as the proper or necessary means of achieving his ends – OR – whether one says instead that “God has willed his good in creatures from eternity and will bring it to pass, despite their rebellion, by so ordering all things toward his goodness” that even evil (which he does not cause) becomes an occasion of the operations of grace. It is only the latter view that can accurately be called a doctrine of ‘providence’ in the properly theological sense; the former view is mere determinism (82).

If it is from Christ that we are to learn how God relates himself to sin, suffering, evil, and death, it would seem that he provides us little evidence of anything other than a regal, relentless, and miraculous enmity: sin he forgives, suffering he heals, evil he casts out, and death he conquers. And absolutely nowhere does Christ act as if any of these things are part of the eternal work or purposes of God (87)

 

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~ by natedawson on 2011/03/29.

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