Saturday, February 9, 2013

The pope gets one third of a Christian theodicy right

While the Pope's nascent Calvinism should be applauded, it affirms only one side of Blocher's iron triangle of theodicy. ("God is all-powerful, God is good, Evil is evil.") Benedict ignores the biblical emphasis on God's goodness in contrast to the evilness of evil. Wickedness isn't a gift from God.

“Therefore, hear me, you men of understanding:
far be it from God that he should do wickedness,
and from the Almighty that he should do wrong.
(Job 34:10 ESV)


Andrew Bowles said...

Is wickedness a thing?

Alex Smith said...

Please could you clarify what about that statement is Calvinistic? Although given Catholicism came before Calvinism, shouldn't you say Calvinism is like Catholicism regarding point X?

Anyway, apart from the limitations of tweets for articulating the one's entire theological system, I would suggest, like Andrew did, that wickedness is a corruption of good things. e.g. lust, a corruption of love; greed, a corruption of hunger.

Even if you disagreed with that, I would also suggest that normal, unqualified usage of the word "gift" implies good, which in turn actually qualifies the domain of "Everything" to "Every-good-thing" or "Everything that one would give as a gift". I think this is supported by the 2nd half of the tweet that shows the domain of "Everything" are things that we crucially depend on (we don't crucially depend on evil/wickedness) and that lead to "freedom & peace" (wickedness/evil lead to neither).

Luke Isham said...

Hi Andrew,

Yes, an excellent observation. No, it's a pseudo-thing in so far as conceptual categories are things.

Hi Alex,

Calvinistic = in this case, affirming God's providence.
Pope's entire theological system = don't know enough about it or my own for that matter. :)

Alex Smith said... confirms "affirming God's providence" existed before Calvinism, but I'm still glad Calvin retained it & is like Catholicism in that regard.

True :-P My point was that theodicy is a complex area of theology, where it's difficult to cover all you bases in 140 characters.

Andrew Bowles said...

Wickedness seems to me to be a mode of being, not a being or 'thing' itself. The Pope seems to be speaking about positively existing things in the good creation of God, not evil or conceptual categories. So I think Alex is right, you're probably over-interpreting this tweet a bit.

Luke Isham said...

Sorry Andrew, in an attempt to be succinct I came across as disagreeing with what you'd so aptly captured in your very first comment. I agree completely and yes I was using the Pope's tweet to springboard into my own comments about theodicy.

(Tangentially, how do we describe meta stuff like categories and modes of being? Probably have to read Wittgenstein or something!)

Alex, before Roman Catholicism was Augustinianism! Theodicy is no more complex than any other area of theology.

Andrew Bowles said...

That's fair enough. Metaphysics is deep waters, though ironically I think Wittgenstein would think that what we're talking about is a matter of language use rather than 'reality'.

Anyway, It sounds after today's news as though Benedict has reason to reflect on his crucial dependence on the Creator.