Holiday in Hellmouth: God and Suffering

My first experience of reading from The New Yorker was James Wood article, Holiday in Hellmouth:God may be dead, but the question of why he permits suffering lives on. Although this article was a review of the book God’s Problem: How the Bible Fails to Answer Our Most Important Question — Why We Suffer by Bart Ehrman, Wood addresses God and suffering in a well thought out article that seems to move beyond the scope of the book being reviewed.

I enjoyed reading the article and found it to be well written and articulate. Wood outlines many of the common responses to the question of the reality of both evil and a good and loving God. I am comfortable with two of the responses that Wood gives – God suffers with us and that the reality of free will allows evil to happen. In contrast to Wood, I believe that suffering does not limit God’s power. Also, I would make a distinction between the free will given to humanity and the regular workings of the natural world.

In Woods’ final paragraphs, he concludes that the hope for a second coming puts off and does not adequately address the question of suffering. Woods asserts that the hope for a new heaven and earth leaves the question – Why not now, God? What is the point of this life when a new one is coming? Here I see Woods response as deficient. Woods addresses free will in relationship to suffering, but does not address free will in relationship to the possible good that comes of the ability for us to accept God’s grace and live as a part of God’s kingdom today. I believe that we have the opportunity to live by the customs and norms of God’s coming kingdom and be a part of God’s kingdom here on earth. Is there the possibility to suffering as a result of free will? Yes. Is there the possibility for good as a result of free will. Also, yes.

I recommend the article and welcome your comments both on it and my response.