Idea of suffering behind bishops' critique of Johnson's book?

by Thomas C. Fox

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John F. Haught, Senior Fellow at Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University, writing on the Commonweal blog examines the issue of evolution and God's role in human suffering as he critiques the U.S. doctrine committee's stinging rebuke of Fordham University Elizabeth Johnson's "Quest for the Living God."

Haught writes: "In order to take evolution seriously theology has to ask whether God cares about the suffering of all living beings, not just humans. Today almost all theologians who take evolution seriously have accepted the idea of a suffering God in one form or another. Of course, what it means to say that God suffers has always been a matter of dispute in theology, and the issue remains unsettled."

"(A)s I see it, the bishops’ statement reflects, among other problems, a theological failure to take evolution seriously. I suspect this has something to do with some strong opinions of Fr. Thomas Weinandy, OFM Cap, executive director of the Secretariat for Doctrine and author of Does God Suffer? and Does God Change? (in both books his answer is no). Weinandy, with whose writings the statement has unmistakable verbal and ideological similarities, links suffering so closely to human sin that his theology lacks the breadth to take in the full drama of life that Darwin and his followers have laid open."

Haught's piece is worth a close read.

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