Indignation with Suffering

D. A. Carson in How Long, O Lord explains, why, among other reasons, Christians are often indignant about any suffering or evil they experience. There is an assumption by many that “we ought to be immune from such” this arises from absorbing a form of theology with all the answers:

We can offer standard answers to every problem that comes along, especially if the problem is afflicting some other person. Our certainty and dogmatism give us such assurance, our systematic theology is so well articulated, that we leave precious little scope for mystery, awe, unknowns. Then, when we ourselves face devastating catastrophe, and we find the certainties we have propounded with such confidence offer us little relief, our despair is the bleaker: we begin to question the most basic elements of our faith. Had we recognised that in addition to great certainties there are great gaps in our comprehension, perhaps we would have been less torn up to find that the mere certainties proved inadequate in our own hour of need.

It becomes important, then, to decide just where the mysteries and the certainties are. Christianity that is nothing but certainties quickly becomes haughty and arrogant, rigid and unbending. Worse, it leaves the Christian open to the most excruciating doubt when the vicissitudes of life finally knock out the supporting pillars. The God of such Christianity is just not big enough to be trusted when you are up to neck in the muck of pain and defeat. Conversely, Christianity that is nothing but a mystery leaves nothing to proclaim, and makes faith indistinguishable from blind credulity.


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