Irenaeus of Lyons

Can Christianity explain why God allows evil and suffering?

This is the third in a series of three talks I have been giving on why a good God should allow evil and suffering. If you like the sound of my voice you can listen to it here. The first is here. The second is here.

Traditional Christian accounts say God made a good world, but gave humans free will. Evil and suffering result from the human misuse of our freedom. In the early days they also speculated about whether God gave angels free will to sin.

Jeremy Bentham

This is the text of the second of a series of three talks I’ve been giving at St Bride's Liverpool, on the subject of why God allows evil and suffering. The first is here. You can listen to this one here.

These days many people argue that because of evil and suffering there cannot be a god at all.

So if there is no God, does that solve the problem of evil and suffering? Next week I’ll summarise how the Christian tradition has usually defended belief in God.

Detail from Caravaggio's The Calling of Matthew

Last night I attended Justin Welby’s lecture on ‘Evangelism and Witness’ at Lambeth Palace.

Most of the attenders seemed to be church officers with some kind of evangelism brief. Ed Thornton of the Church Times was there, and over the preliminary canapes he introduced me to another journalist who sang the praises of Justin for at last addressing the declining numbers of churchgoers. I tried rather clumsily to relativise the significance of churchgoing numbers, referring to Linda Woodhead‘s research on what people actually believed, but it became clear that I was saying the wrong thing: the ‘spiritual but not religious’ generation aren’t being given enough doctrine.

Icon of Jesus Christ

During the course of one of our discussions at Council, I heard someone ask this rhetorical question. It set me thinking and supplied the title of this post.

'Who do you say I am?' Perhaps this question, which Jesus put to his disciples, is one we ask about ourselves in the minute we are born. ‘Who am I?’

Linda Woodhead

What does liberal theology have to offer, why does it matter, why bother defending it? How can it increase its influence? Should it get more political?

These are some of the questions we discussed at Modern Church’s Council meeting on Friday and Saturday. Modern Church promotes liberal theology.

We were led by Linda Woodhead, our President. Linda is a sociologist of religion at Lancaster University. She is best known as the brains behind the Westminster Faith Debates, which has not endeared her to church leaders as the accompanying YouGov polls revealed that hardly anybody accepts their authority these days.