Saturday, May 18, 2013

How can a God of love allow suffering?

Bath Spa University Christian Union hosted an cafe style evening event for their University on the vital subject of suffering. I gave a talk, everyone had a chance to discuss their response, and took questions via text message before hanging around to chat for a while. We attempted to explore the unavoidable issue of pain in our lives, why we desire a better world and what we might do with Jesus in the middle of all of this.

DOWNLOAD mp3: How can a loving God allow suffering - talk (35mins) and q&a - (10mins)

My basic approach was to tell some of my own stories - suffering isn't an abstract thing, it's personal and painful. I wanted to hear some of the responses that people instinctively make to suffering - acknowledging in our response the reality and wrongness of suffering -- and so making profound assertions about what kind of world this is. Among others I sought out the voices of Richard Dawkins, Marcus Brigstocke, Glenn Hoddle and Martin Luther before turning to see Jesus response which is neither heartless or helpless. The final section was adapted from the Uncover Suffering video by A&E consultant Giles Cattermole.

Every day is an opportunity to grow in feeling and knowing the bitter-sweet of life, and I hope that every time I come again at this question I come more humanly. This talk could probably do with a little more brevity... My approach was story based and I was without notes, both of which probably added length compared to a less personal and more scripted approach. That said, I do think questions of the sensitivity and importance of this one are worth taking time to answer.

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