Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Hauerwas on suffering and evil

For the early Christians, suffering and evil … did not have to be ‘explained’. Rather, what was required was the means to go on even if the evil could not be ‘explained’. Indeed, it was crucial that such suffering or evil not be ‘explained’ – that is, it was important not to provide a theoretical account of why such evil needed to be in order that certain good results occur, since such an explanation would undercut the necessity of the community capable of absorbing the suffering.

- Stanley Hauerwas, Naming the Silences: God, Medicine,
and the Problem of Suffering
(Eerdmans: 1990), 49.

That there is no 'explanation' of suffering and evil does not mean that God has no response. There is no explanation in the sense that there is no exhaustive account of the origin and purpose of evil, how it fits into the world and plays a useful role. But God's response is found in the cross and empty tomb - and the promise that arrives with the Spirit as the first-fruits of a new age.

The focus for Hauerwas, however, is in the present gift of a community of grace that enables us to go on in hope.