Friday, April 20, 2007

Evil in the shadow of the cross

I have always been a fan of Buechner. Such insights, such economy of words. Now, wouldn't he make a blogger's blogger. His thoughts on evil are taken from Wishful Thinking: A Seeker's ABC, a small book that packs a lot of wisdom. A companion volume is Whistling in the Dark: An ABC Theologized which continues his succinct take on words and themes that read like theology in shortform. I'm sure many people are familiar with these words, but they seem so apt in the light of recent horrors.

  • God is all-powerful
  • God is all-good
  • Terrible things happen

You can reconcile any two of these propositions with each other, but you can’t reconcile all three. The problem of evil is perhaps the greatest single problem for religious faith.

There have been numerous theological and philosophical attempts to solve it, but when it comes down to the reality of evil itself they are none of them worth much. When a child is raped and murdered, the parents are not apt to take much comfort from the explanation (better than most) that since God wants man to love him, man must be free to love or not love and thus free to rape and murder a child if he takes a notion to.

Christian Science solves the problem of evil by saying that it does not exist except as an illusion of mortal mind. Buddhism solves it in terms of reincarnation and an inexorable law of cause and effect whereby the raped child is merely reaping the consequences of evil deeds it committed in another life.

Christianity, on the other hand, ultimately offers no theoretical solution at all. It merely point to the cross and says that, practically speaking, there is no evil so dark and so obscene – not even this –but that God can turn it to good.

Frederick Buechner

1 comment:

Sivin Kit said...

Buechner is one of the best and a personal favorite too!