Various Goodnesses

At Her•Menuetics, Laura Turner encourages her fellow evangelicals to embrace the F-Wordfeminism:

The church needs feminism because at its core, feminism affirms to us what our faith teaches us about male and female in God’s Kingdom and what Jesus himself preached throughout the New Testament.

The Seattle School of Theology and Psychology announces that John Franke will be giving the inaugural Stanley Grenz Lectures a month from now:

The Stanley Grenz Lecture Series is offered by The Seattle School of Theology and Psychology in honor of former Professor Stanley Grenz, a prolific Christian scholar with a pastoral heart and deep intellectual presence. Stan engaged the challenging theological questions of his generation with a profound sensitivity to the complexities of a Christian community embedded within a cultural context. In honor of him, this series is designed to invite scholarly theological discourse into the public forum, as an expression of Christian faith and service.

Third Way Magazine has a great interview with my theological muse, Jürgen Moltmann (HT: Scott Paeth):

 You emphasise in your autobiography that you asked not ‘Why does God allow this to happen?’ but ‘My God, where are you?’ What is the distinction?
Well, the first question is asking for an explanation of the evil situation you are in; the second question asks how to get out of it. I don’t want it explained why I am in this misery, I want to be liberated from it, and therefore I cry to God: ‘Where are you? Save me!’
If you as a pastor visit a dying person and he asks you why he is dying and you ex­plain his situation, he will have you thrown out of the room. The question of theo­dicy is, to my mind, one asked mostly by the onlookers, not by those who are in a hopeless situation.

Does the question of theodicy not interest you?
No, it is only asking why there is evil if God is almighty and good. It doesn’t ask about God’s other attributes – for example, love, compassion – only power and goodness. And it is a very speculative question, a question ab­out the God of Plato and Aristotle. It is not a biblical question, or a personal question.

  • tanyam

    Re: Moltmann, I used to think theodicy was just an abstract question too, but then I saw how people really do experience an existential crisis when they struggle to understand what sort of God would create a world in which children are tortured. After all, even to say God is loving begs the question, “what sort of love would create such a monstrous world?” . It may seem abstract, but its hard to argue that the pit in your stomach is not real or important. Sure, it can seem like something we toss around for fun in the privileged world, but the hellishness of some human lives makes me think that is not always so.

  • Craig

    Moltmann’s replies likely reflect the wisdom of dodging questions for which he knows he has no entirely adequate, faith-affirming answer. But the questions he avoids are important, personally significant, and entirely reasonable. So he probably is, to some extent, rationalizing an evasion.

    Tony, when you view your muse critically, isn’t this rather clear?

    • NateW

      Actually, I think his replies are more indicative of someone who has learned to value practical wisdom over speculative answers. For him, at this point in his spiritual journey, these questions are unimportant not because he can’t come up with answers, but because he has come to feel that the assumptions behind the questions are wrong headed to begin with.

      That’s not to say that the questions

      • NateW

        Sorry, Disqus on iOS is terrible. Can’t edit my comment.

        Anyways… That’s not to say that the questions are inappropriate for everyone. If they are sincere questions for you then follow them where they lead, but do so knowing that they may well lead only to understanding that answers are very difficult to hold on to.

        • Craig

          What do you mean when you say, “but do so knowing that they may well lead only to understanding that answers are very difficult to hold on to”?

          I’m concerned that you might mean to suggest that doggedly pursuing such questions isn’t likely to lead to much spiritual comfort, affirmation of consoling faith in a loving God, etc (as even the faithful might recognize at the outset on purely inductive grounds). But should this factor have any bearing on my decision of which questions to pursue? Wouldn’t it ordinarily be a kind of evasion to allow such factors to turn one’s attention, a behavior not unlike the political ideologue who directs her attention primarily towards those issues that reassure, reinforce, and gratify? (So, to hear Moltmann dismissively say that theodicy questions are “unbiblical” can sound too much like a Tea Partier dismissing hard questions about social justice as “un-conservative”.)

  • Craig

    Feminism is simply the belief that women are equally as human as men—equal in the eyes of God, equal in image-bearing, equal in ability.

    Is there a reasonable way to defend the very last part of this claim? Is it indeed a core feature of feminism? Does the Christian faith really teach it?

    Suppose “ability” is measured in terms of “valuable, native talent,” and that “equal” means “equally vital.” Then it seems plausible to answer the last two questions affirmatively. At a general level, the value, in aggregate, of native male talent cannot be said to be greater or lesser than the value, in aggregate, of native female talent. They are both equally vital.

    Seems like an interpretive stretch though.

    • NateW

      Yeah, I suppose that to claim equality in ability (in a generalized sense) assumes an ultimate end to which ability aspires.

  • courtney

    I first read the title as “Various Goddesses.” (only slightly disappointed when I read the post)


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