evil

Fourth Sunday in Lent

March 30, 2014
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
I Sam 16: -1-13
Reading 2: 
Psalm 12
Reading 3: 
Ephesians 5:8-14
Reading 4: 
John 9:1-41
By Marjorie Suchocki

The texts deal with good versus evil, with I Samuel challenging assumptions concerning inward versus outward goodness, and the Psalm repeating the ever-present plaint: why do evil doers flourish while the righteous go unrewarded? The New Testament texts continue the theme of good versus bad actions, using imagery of moral light and darkness in Ephesians, and physical versus spiritual blindness in the gospel.

Proper 22

October 7, 2012
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
Job 1:1; 2:1-10
Reading 2: 
Psalm 26
Reading 3: 
Hebrews 1:1-4; 2:5-12
Reading 4: 
Mark 10:2-16
By Bruce G. Epperly

Job 1:1; 2:1-10

The bible speaks in many voices. There are points and counterpoints, agreements and disagreements, in the evolving and sometimes devolving theology of scripture. The Book of Job challenges easy understandings of the problem of evil or the causes of suffering. The author of Job is, perhaps, thinking of Deuteronomy 28 as he or she launches a theological and existential challenge to the rewards-punishments, acts-consequences vision of human success and failure.

God & Anger

Question: 
"Process theology presents images of God which are very positive (God works by love, encouragement, persuasion...) but are there others images too? How does process theology understand the anger of God, the notions of devil, Satan...?"
Publication Month: 
September 2000
Author - First Name: 
John B.
Author - Last Name: 
Cobb, Jr.

It is quite correct that process theology emphasizes the goodness of God. God is that which can be completely trusted. We can take this position because we believe there is a great difference between what happens in the world and in our individual lives on the one side, and what God aims at moment by moment, on the other. Those who believe that what happens is what God causes to happen must, of course, adopt a much more ambiguous view of God's character.

Natural Evil

Question: 
If moral evil is accounted for as the result of the actions of free agents, how does process theology account for the origin of natural evils -- natural disasters, disease, and the like? If God is a persuader and not a governor, is s/he persuading, and not governing, the material cosmos? How can we conceive of God persuading a nonsentient agent? If the material cosmos is simply functioning according to "laws," i.e. is a machine, how do we account for the fact that this machine seems now to be malfunctioning (it seems it must be if it was created by a loving God?
Publication Month: 
July 2003
Author - First Name: 
John B.
Author - Last Name: 
Cobb, Jr.

Dr. Cobb's Response

Evil & Sin Revisited

Question: 
Taken in the broadest way, process theodicy seems to me to be pretty satisfying intellectually, but there is a nagging detail . . . While I certainly wouldn’t wish to posit a literal existence for the devil, I have the sense that there’s something agent-like about evil that seems somewhat unaccounted for by process theology. A possibly related conundrum–it seems to me that God’s proffering of initial aim to occasions must needs in some way conceal that the aim offered is the one to be most valued in the circumstances–otherwise, wouldn’t an occasion’s exercise of freedom in rejecting the aim be mere perversity? And if the value of the initial aim is somehow hidden, then doesn’t an occasion’s failure to take it up come to be mere ignorance?
Publication Month: 
November 2004
Author - First Name: 
John B.
Author - Last Name: 
Cobb, Jr.

Dr. Cobb's Response

Let me say at the outset that I do not believe that anyone, certainly including process theologians, has ever provided a fully adequate account of sin and evil. Most emphatically, this short response to some thoughtful questions will not provide that. But I agree that the process response is “pretty satisfying intellectually.” I also think that some of the remaining difficulties arise from too abstract an approach. After clarifying my use of the terms “evil” and “sin,” I’ll turn to examples to respond to the questions.

Angels & Demons

Question: 
What does/can process theology contribute to angels and demonology?
Publication Month: 
May 2008
Author - First Name: 
John B.
Author - Last Name: 
Cobb, Jr.

Dr. Cobb's Response

On the whole, we process theologians developed our theologies at a time when individual angels and individual demons were little considered in theological circles. Accordingly, we have thought and written almost nothing about them.

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