We all get the question:
IF there’s a God and God is good,
AND if God isn’t impotent,
THEN why all this suffering?
Standing up to these tough questions – affirming a God of love in the face of deep suffering, injustice or apparent evil – is called theodicy. Affirming a particular path to God, such as Christianity, is called apologetics.
Ready to wade into those waters? These three simple steps will help!
Step 1: Practice active listening.
There’s a reason behind these searching questions. Find out what’s prompting them. Listen, without an agenda, and without preparing answers in your head while the person is speaking. Your healing presence is a testimony, in itself.
Step 2: Honor the questions.
None of us can know the mind of God. So, be truthful, avoiding the sort of answers that can alienate, or that don’t do justice to this deep topic. See our post, “What Not to Say, to the Suffering.”
Step 3: Invite Inquiry.
Offer the next, simple step. This may mean an invitation to your house of worship, scheduling a follow-up meeting, or sharing a book that explains some of the basics in a way that makes them accessible to those who are exploring. The following books, all of which offer a Christian perspective, can be of real help to those in search of answers:
- God, Actually; Why God Probably Exists, Why Jesus was Probably Divine, and Why the ‘Rational’ Objections to Religion are Unconvincing – Roy Williams
- Who Needs God – Harold Kushner
- The God We Never Knew; Beyond Dogmatic Religion to a More Authentic Contemporary Faith – Marcus Borg
- The Reason For God; Belief in an Age of Skepticism – Timothy Keller
- God, The Evidence; The Reconciliation of Faith and Reason in a Post-Secular World – Patrick Glynn
- I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Athiest – Norman Geisler & Frank Turek
- A Christianity Worth Believing; Hope-Filled, Open Armed, Alive-and-Well Faith for the Left Out, Left Behind and Let Down in us All – Doug Pagitt
- The Heart of Christianity; Rediscovering a Life of Faith How We Can Be Passionate Believers Today – Marcus Borg
- What’s So Great About Christianity – Dinesh D’Souza
There are many others, of course, but that list should help. You may enjoy them, yourself. Also for your own bookshelf, consider:
- God for a Secular Society – Jurgen Moltman
- Personal Knowledge; Towards a Post-Critical Philosophy – Polenyi
Beware of pointing the casual reader or new beginner Christian to dense authors such as Moltman or Polanyi. Keep those on your personal shelf, for your own enjoyment.
About our How2 Expert
This time, it’s just one more post by internal team members. This particular How2 was written by Rev. Dr. L. Speeth, whose insights on apologetics and theodicy were gained at the Graduate Theological Union and Bakke Graduate University, and during her time in a chaplaincy program at Stanford University Hospital and Clinics.
What are How2s?
How2s – simple explanations of performing tasks relating to ministry and healing arts – are a regular feature of NHM Ministrants. Offered (where applicable) in conjunction with select key scriptural passages and analysis, How2s are meant to assist you – the ministrant – as you walk the healer’s path.