The Doors of the Sea – 4

Posted: June 2, 2012 by J in Book review

The second half of the book is titled Divine Victory, and offers Hart’s version of a more Christian approach to suffering. It is in five parts:

I – Natural theology. While ancients feared and worshipped ‘nature’ and the natural world, for modern man nature is impersonal and lacks purpose: an endless chain of causes and effects. ‘Natural theology’ – attempts to read God’s nature off the page of this ‘nature’, which is seen to simply reflect his will. This idea of direct analogy between God and creation gives modern faith much trouble about suffering and natural catastrophes: ‘is God then a monster?’

II – The Christian view is that God is the perfect source of all being and goodness. And so the Christian  admires His goodness in every created thing. And loves it all. The Christian, then, sees ‘two worlds’ – the world of God’s purpose and glory, and the fallen world in chains. Rather than learn about God from the world’s suffering, we deny that evil has any meaning or substance at all. Evil is a shadowy distortion of the world, and the world is in bondage to dark powers. There are forces at work in the world that do not reflect God’s will at all. So the final achievement of God’s will must in fact take the form of a victory.

There can therefore be no final explanation for all the disastrous events in the world, for they are in the grip of absurdity and futility. God is in the business, not of explaining but of overthrowing evil.

III – the doctrines of impassibility and immutability are essential to maintain God’s freedom from any connection with evil. If God can be subjected to evil in any way, then it can shape him and so become part of his identity. He would be less than a victor. Or something.

Section III feels like it’s tacked on, not integral to the argument. You could easily skip it.


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