Weblog of a Christian philosophy student

Weblog of a Christian philosophy student. Please feel free to comment. All of my posts are public domain. Subscribe to posts [Atom]. Email me at countaltair [at] yahoo.com.au. I also run a Chinese to English translation business at www.willfanyi.com.

Location: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The 'Salvation' Theodicy

This is one type of answer as to why God allows people to suffer. A 'salvation' theodicy says that at least some of the suffering in the world is a key part of bringing people into eternal life. I don't think it can be a very complete explanation for why people suffer, but it has something worthwhile to say.

The Bible associates the suffering caused by our disconnect from God with people returning to God and choosing to enter eternal life by giving their lives to Christ:

Luke 15:11-24 'And he said, "There was a man who had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, 'Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.' And he divided his property between them. Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything.

But when he came to himself, he said, 'How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants."' And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.' But the father said to his servants, 'Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.' And they began to celebrate."'

In the 'salvation theodicy' somehow, in a way that we can't rationally explain, this world is the world in which the greatest number of people choose to enter eternal life.

The picture below illustrates a 'magical black box' analogy for God's decision to create our world, click it to see it full size:

Below is an illustration of the possible histories God might have faced in creating our world, click it to see it full size:

It makes sense that if 100 'degrees' of evil gets just one more person into eternal life, then God would choose to make that world. But God can never use immoral means to get someone to choose Him, so there must be limits on how much and what type of suffering can be a part of this process.

God cannot explain His choice of world because He cannot explain His understanding of our choices. Only God knows how someone is going to choose because only God knows how free will really works. So God's explanation wouldn't make sense to us because we'd only be going on what God says, we couldn't 'see' into other people's souls and understand why more people choose to enter into eternal life in this world rather than another, for ourselves. See Matt 24:36, Deu 29:29, and Rom 11:33.

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