January 4, 2011

Evil & Suffering XVI: John Hick’s-Soul Building

Within Evil & Suffering there is a subcatagory that needs to be addressed.

Potential Reasons For Existence of Evil & Suffering I

Although I strongly disagree with Mr Hicks I will lead off with his explanation as it will serve well as an antithetical point of view to the reasons that I do support in later posts.

This character building portion attempts to reveal evil and/or suffering as vehicle or catalyst allowed by God for humanities proper growth and sanctification: It allows God to teach us. It gives mankind a gauge or antithetical measuring stick so we know exactly how far away from God and His holiness that man has moved. There basically two ways to go about explaining this one Biblical and one unbiblical. The first of which will serve as the unbiblical explanation. This explanation is also an extension of the previous section as John Hick’s adheres to the Irenaeus’ line of thinking when it comes to theodicy. Hick’s is a more recent view derived from Irenaeus. It is the idea that man was actually created imperfect and in need of moral development which is opposed to the view that man was created perfect but chose, through sin, to fall (Genesis 3, Romans 5:12-21) (“Fundamental Truth” #4). Man was place on the earth to perfect his moral and spiritual character to prepare him for participation in the Kingdom of God. As such the most conducive environment for doing this would be a world in which a person confronts evil and suffering. Hick is in agreement with Irenaeus. They both believed that God created man with the need and tools for spiritual growth. Hick then sees the theory of “soul making” as a reaction to the evils and suffering in the world, not necessarily as the cause of some of them. Strangely, to show the distance between the biblical view and Hicks view I should note also that Hick believes that mankind isn’t born knowing of God’s existence, and it is not something easy to gain knowledge of (God’s existence). This is in direct contradiction to statements in Romans 1 that,

“the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.”

Hick also believes that the process of soul making also involves a battle to attain religious faith. This statement seems unsound biblically as the Scriptures are quite clear that faith comes from hearing and responding to the gospel (Romans 10:17). Hick’s exact argument is quoted verbatim. Please note that I do not adhere to this premise.
If the world were a paradise from which all possibility of pain and suffering were excluded, then the consequences would be very far-reaching, nothing bad, nothing suffering would exist in this world, no one could ever be injured by accident, people could do anything immoral they want without hurting other people… As a result, in a world free of real dangers, difficulties, problems, obstacles, there will be no meaning for the real good qualities as generosity, kindness, love, prudence, etc to exist. God had to allow the possibility of evil, because if there were no such possibility man would not be free to choose good over evil. If there were no evil and suffering humans would always follow God’s law because there would be no difficulties in doing so. The evils in this world are required by a God of love who seeks the development of his free creatures from their original innocence into fully mature spiritual beings. In other words, we human beings learn to be morally mature enough to grow closer to God. Evil can lead us to the final goodness and perfection. In this regard, God is partly responsible for the evil in the world ~ John Hick
In the last sentence Augustinian and Irenaean theodicy are incompatible and divergent theodicies. Augustine emphasized the role of The Fall, and sees evil as either sin or the result of sin. Therefore evil and suffering originated with men. Irenaean/Hick theodicy regards evil as a requirement by a God of love to let his free creatures to develop from their original innocence into fully mature spiritual beings thereby making God responsible for some of the evil (Hicks 88-105 [synopsis]; Richards).

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