The Suffering Of God As An Aspect Of The Divine Omnisicience -- By: Randall Bush

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 51:4 (Dec 2008)
Article: The Suffering Of God As An Aspect Of The Divine Omnisicience
Author: Randall Bush

The Suffering Of God As An Aspect Of The Divine Omnisicience

Randall Bush*

* Randall Bush is professor of Christian Studies and philosophy at Union University, 1050 Union University Dr., Jackson, TN 38305.

I. Introduction

On Super Tuesday of 2008, while presidential hopefuls were trying to take the country by storm, the states of Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Kentucky were experiencing storms of a more horrific kind. One center of destructive turbulence was Union University where I teach. The campus was devastated by an F-4 tornado, leaving behind a swath of rubble that stretched for miles. Students emerged miraculously from dormitories that were crushed almost beyond recognition. Though some serious injuries ensued, gratefully no human life was lost.

The mind-boggling devastation left in the tornado’s wake and the fact that no life was lost caused everyone to grapple in their efforts to interpret the event. Why were lives spared on our campus when others were not so fortunate? The obvious answer to most people who experienced the event was that God protected the university. As persons of faith, we believe that God protected our students during the horrific devastation. References to divine providence were repeatedly made over the course of the ensuing months. Still reeling in the storm’s aftermath, however, some of us were even then wondering why God allowed the storm to hit our campus in the first place. The word “providence” comes from the Latin pro vide meaning “to see before,” but the English word connotes as well God’s care of his creation physically as well as spiritually. Though there were no deaths, there were physical injuries, some of them severe, and requiring those who sustained them prolonged recovery stays in hospital.

The response of the majority of our community has been to praise God for his providential care of our students despite the persistence of stinging questions of theodicy. I affirm this as well, even though my philosophical and theological training force me to consider in what ways the wider context of suffering raises questions about such issues as the divine foreknowledge, God’s providence, the omniscience of God, and the divine nature.

Over the past several decades, evangelicals have struggled with issues of divine foreknowledge in relation to the problem of evil and related issues. The theological perspective commonly referred to as open theism raised anew

the question: What is the content of the proposition, “God is omniscient?” Open theists choose to qualify the proposition’s content by arguing as follows: (1) God can only know that which exist...

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