Skip to main content

Is Christianity Blind To Suffering?

Marcus Honeysett spoke at Cambridge CU on Is Christianity Blind To Suffering last week, and also on Is Christianity about being religious. Marcus writes:
I tried to set the subject in the context of real-world suffering and urged the students that the right response is not merely understanding but compassion. Instantly a very bright philosophy student accused me of being insultingly anti-intellectual, saying that it is critical to understand suffering from a philosophical point of view. The only reason that suffering people aren't interested in doing so, he claimed, is that their sufferings prevent them from seeing this clearly. If they weren't suffering they would see the matter clearly, as he felt he did. He vocalised the exact response I was trying to get them to avoid, in the process defining comprehension as the appropriate response to suffering.
I couldn't disagree more. Suffering and comprehension are in different categories. Comprehension is desirable, but it isn't an adequate response. Indeed I think it is a category mistake.
After the event I read an essay online by a young-ish graduate who was once part of of Cambridge Christian Union, on how he lost his faith and now believes that Christianity is false. It is a very thought-provoking piece of writing .. he says that evangelicals presented him with a faith that smoothed out rather than struggling with inconsistencies, that deliberately avoided the supernatural and offered easy, reductionist formulae when thoughtful depth was called for. He believes that he was presented with intellectual answers rather than with a living relationship with God, leaving him with a what he described as "brittle faith." Or possibly a definition of Christianity that equated having intellectual answers with having a relationship with God.


  1. Yup.

    The thing is, there are some very intellectually satisfying answers. But Job tells us 1) some people think they've 'got it' before they have (the three friends) and 2) even if you know the answer it's right to wrestle (like Job did).

  2. couldnt have had a more different conversation tonight with a masters student after imperial cu. this goes massively deep this. "solutions" are normally denials of the problem. the cross shows me definitively that evil & injustice is (understatement of the century) a massive problem. Too many "theodicies" end up trying to justify evil itself, not God in the face of evil (Rom 3). No wonder Jesus wept.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

"Big eyes full of wonder"

Books. Fiction. Libraries. Second only to churches as are the best gateways in your community to ultimate reality and new possibilities.

Our local library has just re-opened after refurbishment, and I love that our boys have spent several mornings there during the summer holidays, discovering some wonderful new stories.

I realised a few months back that I wasn't reading enough fiction. My work necessitates reading a lot of non-fiction, a mix of historical and contemporary thinking, biblical studies and theology. But fiction is the cinderella. Easily overlooked, and yet able to awaken my imagination and show me the way things are meant to be.

So I've picked up a few more lately - bought and borrowed. Not every book attempted flies, and that's ok. These have been winners though.

Ink. This is Alice Broadway's debut novel. It's young adult fiction and tells the story of Leora who lives in a world where the events of your life are tattooed on your skin. Nothing gets hid…

Uniquely Matthew

Reading gospel accounts in parallel is sometimes used to blur the differences in perspective between the evangelists, seeking to harmonise the texts and find a definitive historical account of what happened. No such thing exists because every account is biased and limited. You simply can't record everything. You have to hold a vantage point. And that's not a problem.

Matthew, Mark and Luke take a very different vantage point to John who was of course an eyewitness himself of the events. Comparing the text of Matthew, Mark and Luke across the death and resurrection of Jesus yields two steps.

Firstly, the common ground. All three accounts tell of...
Simon of Cyrene carrying the cross…. · Jesus labelled as King of the Jews…. · Criminals crucified with Jesus… · Darkness in the daytime… · Jesus' loud final cry… The women who witnessed Jesus death, and Jesus' burial… · The tomb lent to Jesus by Joseph of Arimithea… · The women who went to the tomb on the morning of the…

Songs we're singing in Church

Christians are a singing people, it's part of what we do when we gather.

Our church meets morning an evening on a Sunday - normally using 5 songs in each service. So, over the year that's about 520 song-slots available. The report from the database system we use ( tells us that in the past year we've sung about 150 different songs.

Our current most used song has been sung 11 times in the last year, just under once a month. Our top 10 are used about every 6 weeks. By #30 we're talking about songs used every two months. The tail is long and includes loads of classic hymns from across the centuries, plus other songs from the past 40 years, that we have used around once a term or less.

1. Rejoice - Dustin Kensrue

2. Come Praise & Glorify - Bob Kauflin

3. Man of Sorrows - Hillsong

4. Cornerstone - Hillsong

Rejoice was a song I didn't previously know, along with a couple of others that have quickly become firm favourites for me: Chri…