suffering 2
Meditation and Reflection

Does God suffer?

 

There’s an awful lot of suffering and badness around. Nasty people do nasty things, and wicked people do worse. There are floods, droughts and earthquakes, which are no-one’s fault; and murder, wars, terrorism and neglect, which are. Not unreasonably, in the face of all this awfulness and badness and evil, many conclude that there is no God. Richard Dawkins’ Twitter feed is full of it.

But it is a crass deduction; a pocket-sized Ladybird-book-level of theology. A God who is supposed to be omnipotent, omniscient and good could well permit all this suffering: the ‘problem of evil’ is actually not a problem when we view the world’s horrors not through the lens of human moral integrity but by acknowledging that God is God and His character cannot be reduced to debates around anthropomorphic virtues, duties, laws and obligations. God is in a class of His own.

And yet He became fully man.

Classical Hellenistic theology held that God is immutable and therefore impassible; unchanging and self-sufficient. Philo prepared the way for the Early Church Fathers when he made apatheia a characteristic of the God of Israel. If God were perfect, change would be inconceivable, as any change could only be for the worse. Patripassianism – the incarnation of the Father in an effort to maintain the unity of God – was rejected in part because it taught that God suffered.

Gregory of Nazianzus insisted that God must suffer, lest the reality of the incarnation be questioned. But most Patristic and medieval writers including Anselm and Aquinas took it as axiomatic that God could not suffer. In his Proslogion, Anselm argued that though we may experience God as compassionate, this does not mean that God experiences compassion, for God “is not affected by any sympathy of misery”. Aquinas wrote: “Mercy is especially to be attributed to God, provided that it is considered as an effect, not as a feeling of suffering.. It does not belong to God to sorrow over the feelings of others.”

In 1562, the impassibility of God was enshrined in the XXXIX Articles: Article I declares: “There is but one living and true God, everlasting, without body, part or passions..” It is also intrinsic to the Westminster Confession of Faith of 1646, which affirms that God is “without body, part or passions, immutable..”

The most celebrated protest against such thinking is perhaps Luther’s Theologia Crucis, contained with his Heidelberg Disputations of 1518. Luther used the phrase deus crucifixus (‘crucified God’) to speak of God’s sharing in the sufferings of the cross of Christ. The Old Testament also portrays God as sharing in Israel’s hurts (eg Jer 31.20; Isa 63.15); and the New Testament is replete with examples of the love of Jesus being manifest in shared suffering (eg Lk 22:62; Jn 11:35). While such scriptures undermine the intuitive plausibility of the impassible God, they do not affect its intellectual credibility. Perhaps, with Job, the heart demands a ‘feeling’ God, while the head maintains the logic of his impassibility.

For Jürgen Moltmann, God participates in the suffering and death of Jesus. The cry from the cross, ‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?‘ (Mk 15.34, Mt 27.46) is crucial (literally) to his understanding. It signifies an event of suffering between the Father and the Son, and is an event within God’s self, for

..the Father who abandons him and delivers him up suffers the death of the Son in infinite grief of love. We cannot say here in patripassian terms that the father also suffered and died. The suffering and dying of the Son, forsaken by the Father, is a different kind of suffering from the suffering of the Father in the death of the Son… To understand what happened between Jesus and his God and Father on the cross, it is necessary to talk in trinitarian terms. The Son suffers dying, the Father suffers the death of the Son. The grief of the Father here is just as important as the death of the Son (The Crucified God [London: SCM Press, 1974:243]).

The Son suffers in his love being forsaken by the Father as he dies; the Father suffers in his love the grief of the death of the Son (cf Rom 8:32). This is the love expressed in the Gospel of of John (3:16), which affirms that the very existence of God is love. Suffering is in God because God is love. Suffering is not justified, but is embraced in loving solidarity with those who suffer. God is one with divinity and humanity, the pain of the cross was God suffering with us so that our humanity can be liberated for freedom in the divine struggle against oppression. A suffering God becomes more plausible if God is identified with the kenosis of Christ. ‘Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant‘ (Phil 2:6-8).

But the question of God’s impassibility raises further profound questions, each of which could be a subject of apology, not least the logical notion of an omnipotent God being masochistic. There is a further logic, inherent in Moltmann’s suffering Christ, that God Himself may be said to have suffered and died on Calvary. Since this suffering occurred with God’s consent, and could therefore have been altered or avoided with God’s consent (Mt 26:52-56), it is reasonable to conjecture that this is not the same as the human condition, in which suffering happens without consent. Richard Bauckham responds:

Moltmann.. compromises the freedom of God and falls into the ‘Hegelian’ mistake of making world history the process by which God realises himself.. He does not dissolve God into world history, but he does intend a real interaction between God and the world. The problem of divine freedom leads him to deny the reality of the contrast between necessity and freedom of choice in God. Because Gods freedom is the freedom of his love, he cannot choose not to love and as love he is intrinsically related to the world (The Theology of Jürgen Moltmann [Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1995:24f]).

God’s agonising over us, suffering with us and for us, is constantly reflected in Scripture (eg Zeph 3:17-18; Jer:9.1,3). But to say that God suffers with us in Christ does not solve the formal theodicy ‘problem’ of how it is logically possible that suffering could occur when God is omnipotent and perfectly good. Still less does it say why suffering occurs. In response to the sufferer’s ultimate question ‘Why?’, there is no shame in responding that we do not always know. The only adequate ‘Why?’ of human suffering is the empathetic cry of Jesus on the cross. As Moltmann expresses: “When God becomes man in Jesus of Nazareth, he not only enters into the finitude of man, but in his death on the cross also enters into the situation of man’s godforsakeness.”

Jesus suffers vicariously and in solidarity with the great apocalyptic dying of this world. Moltmann’s Christology does not only speak to all the awfulness and badness and evil of our own time; it is wholly necessary in a world come of age, if it has, or is doing. The incomprehensible scale of suffering in a holocaust draws the human heart to the belief that only the suffering God can help, because the only credible theology for Auschwitz is one that makes God an inmate of the place.

God is present in the midst of our suffering, and in the Resurrection of Jesus He fulfilled human liberation and heralded a new creation. Our sufferings are End-Time sufferings which take possession of the whole creation. God does not send pain and suffering on man, but rather He permits pain and suffering, which, like the suffering of the cross, cannot be separated from the resurrection to come. This is the ultimate stepping stone to faith: in all the awfulness and badness and evil of the world, God was, is and will be with us, in hope for and expectation of the promised eschatological fulfilment. The existence of suffering does not make God impotent: it is the secret of His power and triumph over it.

  • Dreadnaught

    Quoting biblical texts as infallible anchors of truth and reality from another age hundreds of years ago just does not cut the mustard when trying to make sense of today. I speak for myself in saying it counts for nothing other than homily.
    If it helps people cope with life and gives meaning for them then that is good. I do not have authority to say they are wrong any more than what they think of my position.
    What I do recognise is that there is more in common between them and myself and to be found in human nature across the globe; manifested in simple acts and basic human acceptance extended to fellow travelers than is delivered by adherence to the doctrines of any religion or regeime.
    There is no greater educator than the experience of communicating, travelling and living among other people to put such a notion to the test.
    Politics and Religion are the curse of mankind in my humble opinion but people are if left to their own devices they would not feel so embroiled by the manipulators.
    That’s why I enjoy so much reading this stimulating and thought provoking blog.

    • Busy Mum

      Religion was invented by the devil to ensnare human beings into worshipping anything or anyone except God.

      • Dreadnaught

        I don’t do devils either

        • Busy Mum

          From where then did religion come?

          • Dreadnaught

            the imagination of control freaks to explain the unexplainable

          • Busy Mum

            Same thing as the devil in my book!

            And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thought of his heart was only evil continually. Genesis 6 v 5

          • Dreadnaught

            So quoting from Genesis as honest fact you expect me to believe this guff?

            3 And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, and after his image; and called his name Seth:

            4 And the days of Adam after he had begotten Seth were eight hundred years: and he begat sons and daughters:

            So who – did Seth marry? It could only have been his sister – God is responsible for promoting incest? Not nice.

          • Busy Mum

            “For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished. But the heavens and the earth which are now, by the same word kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment……” 2 Peter 3

            You are assuming the ante-diluvian and post-diluvian worlds and people to be identical.

            And maybe Cain married his sister and then they had a daughter who became Seth’s niece and wife….or maybe God made some more women, we don’t know….. God did not promote incest, even though it happened in order for the population to grow.
            p.s. Even Abraham married his half-sister.

          • Dreadnaught

            What evil mindset of nonsense dreamed up this for you to keep as a legacy for the foundation of the truth you hold to be the bedrock of you faith will remain with you for the rest of your life. Sounds like and act of malice to me but you are welcome to it – just don’t give the kids nightmares. I personally don’t believe it ever happened,

          • Albert

            Very Marxist.

          • Dreadnaught

            Well you had to say something –

          • Albert

            Well you don’t think your comment was a serious explanation, do you?

          • Dreadnaught

            Very much so; but frankly ol fruit I couldn’t give a flying duck what you think.

          • Albert

            Well, if you really believe that religion is exhaustively reducible to the imagination of control freaks to explain the unexplainable then I would say you do not think at all.

          • Dreadnaught

            see the above.

          • Albert

            I was referring to the above!

          • Dreadnaught

            I don’t believe in Trolls, but in your case I will make an
            exception. X-off

          • Albert

            That’s actually quite funny.

      • What do you call the Mosaic Law and the Divinely mandated ritual practices then, if not “religion”?

        • chiefofsinners

          ‘Religion’ as the term is generally used encompasses every cunningly devised fable and abomination of desolation that mankind has set up in the place of God. Even those rituals which were once Divinely mandated are torn in two in Christ. We have just two ordinances, one commission and the Holy Spirit. The rest is human invention.

          • Hmmm … we could discuss just what the Commission entails, whether the Church is Apostolic and what this means, if you like.

          • chiefofsinners

            Nah…you Catholics struggle with the difference between ordinance and ordnance, if that Guy Fawkes is anything to go by.

          • He was a fall Guy for other more cunning plotters, CofS.

          • chiefofsinners

            Is that a confession?

        • Busy Mum

          The divinely appointed ritual practices were purely symbolic of Christ and no longer necessary after His death and resurrection i.e. it was a temporary religion based on faith in what was to come.

          The Mosaic law was nothing new, merely the setting in stone of what was already in people’s hearts; stealing, adultery, murder – all recorded and condemned in the Bible long before Moses’ time!

    • Phil R

      Religion is part of us as humans. Far from weakening in our “age of reason and science” (lol) it is getting stronger.

      BTW we tried during the last century in many countries to live without religion. Mostly incentives and persuasion were quickly replaced with force, imprisonment and murder

      What a paradise it was eh?

      • Dreadnaught

        I always think that when someone uses text-speak in a conversation they are assuming it somehow adds waspish wit to their contribution when it actually makes them appear distinctly thick.

  • dannybhoy

    What an interesting post!
    We believe in God, Father Son and Holy Spirit. The Godhead, the Three in One.
    Outside of time, eternal, all powerful, all loving, all sufficient, in perfect harmony.
    A mystery!!
    At some point (outside of time, in the eternal), God decided to create the universe, and create life, with man as a living breathing sentient being, gifted with intelligence and free will.
    When He decide to create man He must have considered all the possibilities, and what He would do to ensure that this tiny speck of self aware, self determinance, could be redeemed should he stray and be lost in his quest for selfhood…
    (Was it inevitable that Adam fell?)
    So as I understand it, the Godhead resolved that in the event of the Fall, the Son should one day become fully, physically, Man. And within those limitations fully obedient to the Laws of Moses given to Israel by the Father, and in full obedience and purity choose to die so that man and God might be reconciled. That the process of redemption and sanctification would be powered by the Holy Spirit, who would continue to be present in the world through the Church until the appointed time.

    So in the light of man’s continued inhumanity to man does God suffer? Does the Son suffer? Does the Holy Spirit?
    Our Lord must know what suffering is because for our sakes He experienced evil through man and Satan. We know that the Holy Spirit can be grieved and that the Father can be angered by man’s sinful actions.
    What we don’t and can never know, is how God processes these things. That He loves us is clear. That He is affected by our good and bad actions is also clear, because the Scriptures (Revelation chapter 6) tell us that one day He will sum it all up at the Day of Judgement.
    God made man in His own image, so God is fully aware and grieves over human suffering, but in Himself He remains God the Rock. Not indifferent to us, but not diminished by us either.

  • Owl

    I always feel slightly uneasy when I hear anyone describing what God thinks, feels etc. or, in the case of Cardinal Newman, what he isn’t.
    How can the finite describe the infinite?
    We are forced into the position of Job. We can’t actually explain suffering at all.
    We can only believe that God knows what he is doing and give up thinking about the “why” too much.
    All our philosophers and theologians have no clue either, obviously.
    I also have no clue but I am content with the idea/hope that God does.

    • dannybhoy

      God tells us some things about Himself through the Scriptures.. Of course no creature can ever come close to describing the Creator.

      • Owl

        I rather think that the human author of any part of the bible is telling us his or her own opinion of God.

        • dannybhoy

          I have a certain sympathy in certain circumstances for that idea, but when it comes to the nature of God I wouldn’t go very far down that particular road…

          • Inspector General

            Jack will bite your head off for a start…

    • Phil R

      Quite right. We can never know why.

      Alleviating suffering is our responsibility. Not the Government. Not the Church. Ours. People ask does God have a plan to alleviate and prevent suffering?

      Yes he has a plan. We are the plan. His Grace suggested politics etc yesterday as a response we need to consider as Christians.

      But like Andrew at the feeding of the 5000. We are full of reasons why it is impossible.

    • If you have suffered deeply yourself or witnessed the suffering of others, then surely you must have some notion of how God uses suffering in different ways for the good of individual man and also the world? Jack is not being personal or offensive here; just think about it.

      • Inspector General

        Just as well we have, in your words, ” a just, merciful and loving God.”
        Well, not too much love then, or mercy come to that…

        • God is Love, Inspector and His Mercy precedes His Judgement by moving us to repentance and conversion. Do you actually attend Catholic services … ever?

          • Inspector General

            One has no problem attending Christian services. The mechanics of faith interests him little. worship is what it is about.

            After all that has been discussed here Jack, you still maintain that God is Love. Perhaps you mean God is unfathomable, but then, that would be doing some thinking for yourself instead of relying on the dogma resulting from the thoughts of other men, and that’s not going to happen…

          • How can you “worship” if you are uninterested in the meaning of the liturgy which reflects our faith?

            “Lex orandi, lex credendi, lex vivendi” – how we worship reflects what we believe and determines how we will live.
            Even if it means you do nothing else for a few nights, read Saint Pope John Paul’s Apostolic letter and the summary Jack posted links to.

  • Albert

    Gregory of Nazianzus insisted that God must suffer, lest the reality of the incarnation be questioned. But most Patristic and medieval writers including Anselm and Aquinas took it as axiomatic that God could not suffer.

    I’d love to know where St Gregory says this, because I guess he means he suffers as man – which would, of course, be the same position as Aquinas and Anselm.

  • DanJ0

    It’s actually the suffering of animals that makes me question more, I think. Or, rather, the alleged design of a system where suffering is integral to it.

    • Phil R

      Not a design flaw.

      Death was not part of the original plan

      • DanJ0

        Yet carnivorous dinosaurs lived before our species appeared.

        • Phil R

          That is the accepted “wisdom” of our age

          200 years ago it was something different. We laugh at the accepted wisdom then and in 200 years they will laugh at us.

          (They will probably laugh at climate change rather sooner and be greatly saddened that we rationalised the murder of millions of unborn)

          • DanJ0

            Have you seen a T Rex fossil, Phil?

          • Phil R

            Did you read about the Nebraka Man

            we knew how he lived what he ate how he hunted what clothes he wore etc

            all from one tooth

            that eventually turned out to be from a pig

          • DanJ0

            Have you seen a T Rex fossil, Phil? There’s more than one tooth here:

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sue_(dinosaur)

            and here!

            https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/2d/Sue_skull.jpg

          • Phil R

            Not the point i was making.

            T Rex means that for some time on earth some animals eat others

            big deal. We know that happened already

          • sarky

            but Death didn’t come into the world until eve ate from the tree of knowledge. So dinosaurs can’t of eaten each other could they? Unless, of course, we are back to the flintstones being a documentary.

          • Phil R

            Why would dinosaurs not be diseased?

          • sarky

            Because there was no disease prior to the fall.

          • Phil R

            Correct.

            And?

          • sarky

            Don’t insult my intelligence.
            If death and disease existed prior to human beings, then the fall never happened and there was no need for jesus to come and die for our sins. Hence, the foundation of christianity cannot be true.

          • Phil R

            The existence of dinosaurs proves nothing.

            If I am insulting your intelligence. Tel me the mechanism for the formation of a single cell. How does it appear out of nothing.

            Tell me how it can be done in the lab.

            Dawkins side steps this by stating that the first life forms arrived from
            outer space. ……lots of evidence offered to prove that one etc…..!

            So tell me. I am waiting

            Still know all the answers?

          • sarky

            The existence of dinosaurs proves nothing? It’s the elephant in Christianity’s room. We know dinosaurs existed before man, we know they suffered from disease and we know they died. According to genesis disease and death didn’t enter the world until eve ate an apple from the tree of knowledge. So either dinosaurs were around at the time of man, which they clearly weren’t, Or genesis is just an allegory. If it is then the basis of christianity is just a story.

          • Phil R

            Ok don’t answer my questions

            To answer your own I agree that it is likely the dinos were around at the same time as man.

            Current wisdom puts them at different ages in a time line. That is not proof.

            Forget far distant past. “Experts” cannot even agree with what happened or the climate was like 600 years ago in my home area. Never mind 6000

          • sarky

            Come on Phil, only a complete fantasist would think we existed at the same time as dinosaurs. As for your question the answer is we don’t know……yet. But that is the beauty of science we are always looking for the answers and quite frankly ‘god did it’ is not a satisfactory answer. If you look at the rate of discovery over say the last 100 years, then I’m sure your question will be answered, maybe not in our lifetime but probably in the lifetime of our children.

          • Phil R

            The problem with your suggestion that science will soon give us the answers is that for the question we are discussing. Science is now less confident and there are now more questions than ever before.

            Science has failed to find or replicate what was once thought easy and is the foundation of current atheist dogma

          • sarky

            Like I said…….yet.

          • Phil R

            Good luck…

            you will need it

          • DanJ0

            You appear to think raising that the hoary old Nebraska Man thing is sufficient to undermine the great swathes of evidence across multiple disciplines. It doesn’t surprise me, really.

          • Phil R

            Flat world 400 years ago

            How could we be so stupid?

          • DanJ0

            By ignoring the empirical evidence. Similarly with the geo-centric view of the cosmos, only that failing was compounded by religious expectations too. Scientific theories and knowledge are almost always inductive in nature, and the idea that new knowledge or evidence may cause a re-evaluation is inherent to science. This will probably be news to you, as it usually is to your sort of religionist.

          • Phil R

            That was my whole point

          • DanJ0

            Peer-review process, etc.

          • Phil R

            A completely invented scientist—“Ocorrafoo Cobange”—who worked at a fabricated institution—“the Wassee Institute of Medicine in Asmara”—was able to get a terribly faked paper accepted for publication in 157 journals. 

            Yep that works

          • DanJ0

            With every reply, you demonstrate your ignorance of the very basics.

          • Phil R

            Abiogenesis is your main issue. Science has tried for decades and not even come close. It should be easy. We know what chemicals constitute life. So replicating a spontaneous appearance from non life should be schoolscience by now. We should also see it occurring naturally in certain places on earth since it should be happening all the time.

            It doesn’t and it hasn’t.

            The fraud that science pepetuates that life can spring from non life is only sustained because the alternative is God.

            God cannot be allowed in this even if it is the only sensible scientific explanation for the life we have at this time

          • DanJ0

            “It should be easy.”

            Why?

            “God cannot be allowed in this even if it is the only sensible scientific explanation for the life we have at this time”

            Where does one start with a statement like that?

            By God, you mean a creator of our reality, I think. You make a huge leap to your particular god from the existence of our reality.

            From there, you present something which is at least along the lines of a God of the Gaps fallacy.

            Your hypothesis, such as it is, is not testable in any way so you’re fluffing stuff up claiming it as a scientific explanation.

          • Phil R

            It is not God of the gaps

            it is science failing to do what God alone says he can do

            it is what we should expect

          • Phil R

            I say again

            in 10 , 50 or 100 years they will laugh at your evidence and certainty

        • chiefofsinners

          How do you know if you weren’t there?

          • DanJ0

            You need to watch an episode of Time Team. Less boring than Archeology 101, I expect.

          • chiefofsinners

            Ooo aar Tony now this bit of pot be a dinosaur’s teacup. We can tell ’cause it be buried with other stuff that we’ve decided is the same age.

          • DanJ0

            Perhaps you’ll luck out one day and there will be a homo sapiens fossil found between its forelegs in situ. Being cuddled, obviously.

          • chiefofsinners

            Why would humans choose to live in the same place as dinosaurs?
            But if such fossils ever turned up they would be easily and quickly explained away. “Ancient humans put together a fossil collection and chose to be buried with it” or some such.
            Consider Ginko trees: found in layers ‘below’ dinosaurs. – Not found with dinosaurs. – Found growing today. Where did they go for all those hundreds of millions of years?
            Or Ceolacanths: not found in rock layers ‘newer’ than 70 million years, therefore presumed extinct until found, er, in the sea.

      • sarky

        Are you saying god is not perfect and doesn’t know everything?

        • Phil R

          No I’m saying we were not created to die

          • DanJ0

            You’re saying that non-human animals were not created to die, more specifically given the context. That’s very curious as the biology of predators is typically geared towards killing other animals. The jaws and claws and musculature of tigers, for example, don’t lend themselves to cuddling the animals that typically constitute their prey.

          • Phil R

            That’s very curious as the biology of predatdistantypically geared towards killing other animals

            You are making the mistake of projecting what is now into the far distant past

          • DanJ0

            So, the species we see today were not created that way at all, to the point of being, well, completely different species?

          • Phil R

            Two of every kind went into the ark

            not even Dawkins would propose that we can look at animals today and say that is how they have always been

          • DanJ0

            What do you think a tiger looked like, Phil, before death came into the world? Like a tiger? Only it dies after 20 years or so?

          • Phil R

            I doubt if we will ever know for sure.

            However it is unlikely to be a modern tiger or any other member of the current cat family

          • DanJ0

            You’re very special, Phil. But not one of a kind, sadly.

          • Phil R

            Same comment as below

            if all else fails insult it seems

          • DanJ0

            Same comment as above. Nothing has failed. Quite the opposite really. I’m very happy with the flow here!

          • Dreadnaught

            However it is unlikely to be a modern tiger or any other member of the current cat family

            A Big tick for the theory of evolution then.

          • Phil R

            Not at all

            two of every kind

          • DanJ0

            “not even Dawkins would propose that we can look at animals today and say that is how they have always been”

            Lol.

        • Phil R

          No

  • IanCad

    “Jesus wept.” John 11:35.
    Surely, we must conclude, that God and The Holy Spirit share like sympathies. And again, in Hebrews, Christ was like us in every way. If there is joy in heaven an understanding of sorrow must also exist.

  • Phil R

    Does God suffer?

    He paid the price for all of our sins

    The answer. More than we can possibly ever imagine

  • Inspector General

    Does God suffer or know what suffering is? Hardly – that’s what we are for. And what is it if he doesn’t? Who are we to suggest that he try it sometime. Get on your knees those who do, and be quick about it. Perhaps our creator will forgive you, just this once…
    God has given us all we need, and has left the room. Well, not quite. Let’s say he’s on the stairs looking down at us, interested in how we are getting on.

    The Inspector cannot be the only bar stool philosopher who sees this human creation that we are there for the amusement of the Almighty. That is amusement in the full sense of the word, not merely to make him laugh. We are here for entertainment, as depending on where you live, there might be precious little to laugh about.

    Furthermore, the Inspector cannot be the only one who disagrees with God’s portrayal (by man) as a god exclusively of love. True, he sent his emissary Jesus to us, but look what happened. Jesus had no cognition of how the plot would play out. It is almost beyond comprehension that God would allow his own to be nailed to a cross to suffer mortal death, yet there it is. Jesus cried out, he had been abandoned, and he wanted an answer. He had to wait for the truth when he arose from the dead, for just as Jesus was sent by God and whose existence is of the direct command of God, he was, as part of the package, immortal. He just did not realise it at the time. Though he must have realised there was something special about himself after all those miracles. And of course from an early age, when he said he must be about his father’s work. It wasn’t carpentry, was it?

    So for all who cannot understand humanity and its destructiveness and its inherent frailty, prone to illness and disease, including the many who are suffering as a result, remember what happened to Jesus. If suffering was part of his experience, we are not going to get very far in complaining if it becomes part of ours…

    • You’ve gone in the opposite direction to explain human suffering and abandoned belief in a just, merciful and loving God.

      • Inspector General

        He zaps souls that fail at their judgment and condemns them to literally he knows what.. That has been made VERY clear! Right then, with that in mind, you were saying…

        • The answer to human suffering is in the Cross of Christ. God sent His Son, one of the Persons of the Trinity, God Himself became man, to offer the opportunity to us all to join Him in eternal Paradise. That has been made very clear too. With that in mind, what are you saying?

          • Inspector General

            Nothing further to add, your honour.. other than

            If on failing judgment you are destroyed, then that is better than an eternity of, oh, apparently it’s ‘suffering’, of all things!

    • Phil R

      “Jesus cried out, he had been abandoned, and he wanted an answer.”

      I used to have a problem with this. Clearly Jesus had a horrible death but for the times it was fairly average. Many people before and after had far worse physical deaths.

      Jesus states that he was forsaken, he had lost the presence of God in his life. That is my definition of hell. No fire and brimstone, but the complete absence of God. We get the taste of it (And we can read about it from other countries that have tried it out for real) when we move towards the sort of society of unfettered evil (selfishness), that Dreadnought, Danjo and others favour on this blog. Far from being a utopia of the mutual love of common man without God, it is hell, always. (and everyone sane person can see it is)

      Jesus tore the curtain in the temple from top to bottom. It was finished. He took the punishment (absence of God) that we all deserve.

      That is why he can ask anything of us. That scares us perhaps, but it scares them far more.

      • Jesus was quoting Psalm 22, a messianic psalm that describes the agony the suffering servant would endure. God allowed Jesus, in his humanity, to experience the sense of divine abandonment that humans often feel during times of suffering and sin. We may feel that God has abandoned us when we are suffering, though this isn’t the case, so the Son of God in his humanity experienced that.aspect of human suffering as well. He died for our sins, and the weight of those sins – and thus the feeling of abandonment – must have been exceedingly heavy at that point.

        Jesus shows that He is the fulfillment of that prophecy and that he will be vindicated, as proclaimed in the psalm’s wonderful triumphant ending:

        “He has not scorned or slighted the appeal of the friendless, nor turned his face away from me; my cry for help did not go unheeded. Take what I owe thee, my song of praise before a great assembly. I will pay my vows to the Lord in the sight of his worshippers; the poor shall eat now, and have their fill, those who look for the Lord will cry out in praise of him, Refreshed be your hearts eternally! “

        • Phil R

          “God allowed Jesus, in his humanity, to experience the sense of divine
          abandonment that humans often feel during times of suffering and sin”

          So God was just teaching Jesus a (rather late?) lesson Jack?

          No more?

          That is a new take on the crucifixion!

          • Allowed as in He “permitted” Jesus to be murdered and suffer humiliation and physical pain. Jesus, in His humanity, experienced everything we do – apart from sin and the temptation to sin.

          • Inspector General

            Just goes to show the Trinity is not and never was. The is only God. His messenger to humanity, Jesus, and the angelic presence by which he achieves what he needs to do.

          • What did Jesus “achieve” and what did He “need to do”, then?

          • Inspector General

            Ambiguity has descended on this site tonight. Meant that God uses his angelic orders to do his bidding. It’s logistics, you see. What happens has to be possible in physics. Constrictions of the universe, you know…

          • Anton

            I am a research physicist and at my conversion I finally reached the understanding that He who put the laws of physics in place has the right to abrogate them – and sometimes does, in order to make a point to man. Peter walking on the water and sinking as his faith wavered (Matt 14) is not explicable by the laws of physics and never will be.

          • Inspector General

            Fellows who walked on water may have been walking on the submerged presence of angels. Good job these divine things are not unionised…

          • Anton

            That just defers the problem, for angels as described in the Bible clearly do not obey the laws of physics either.

          • Inspector General

            Laws of physics not yet known to man. For example, radio ways, until recently…

          • Anton

            That’s not how physics is. It is true that human understanding of physics is liable to change radically; for instance, the description of gravity according to Einstein is very different from that of Newton; and when we learn how to describe gravity quantum-mechanically it will change again. BUT each time we change, we do so because we have learned how to predict a little better; and any violation of Newton’s description of gravity, as in Peter sinking in Matt 14, is certainly going to violate the better descriptions.

          • Inspector General

            Can’t see there is a problem. We know the laws of physics are not the same at quantum level. Don’t we live with that? By the way, one is grateful for your knowledgeable insight in this matter.

          • IanCad

            That was very funny Inspector.

          • sarky

            Unless it’s just a story…..

      • DanJ0

        “We get the taste of it (And we can read about it from other countries that have tried it out for real) when we move towards the sort of society of unfettered evil (selfishness), that Dreadnought, Danjo and others favour on this blog.”

        Lol. Perhaps I should quote some of the manifest evil you’ve put out on this blog over the years,

        • Inspector General

          And then we come to manifest perversions of which gay marriage is just the start…

          • DanJ0

            And he’s off again.

          • Inspector General

            Not really. You come here to rubbish Christianity. Does it hurt that much when your own philosophies are challenged…

          • DanJ0

            Why do you care about Christianity? You’re clearly not even close to being one.

          • Inspector General

            One is a follower of Christ, he’ll have you know. Like it or not, that makes the Inspector a Christian.

          • DanJ0

            Christ-opher the representative?

          • “You come here to rubbish Christianity.”
            You do the very same thing as this thread demonstrates, Inspector. As objectively wrong as he is, at least he’s thought his position through.

          • Inspector General

            As a self appointed Kapo on this site, you had to say that…

          • Hi inspector

            What’s a kappo?

          • Inspector General

            An inmate of a concentration camp tasked with organising his fellow wretches on behalf of the guards…

          • Hi inspector

            Poor olde you then….. it’s distressing to see you and Jack have a tiff, in some ways.

          • Inspector General

            Inevitable, dear thing. He’s a bully…

          • Unworthy of even you, Inspector.

          • Inspector General

            Rather like being accused of rubbishing Christianity then…

          • The views you espouse are most certainly not Christian.

          • Inspector General

            What you mean of course is that one’s views do not pay tribute to the dogma attached to Christianity long after Christ’s departure. Let’s see, it was a 4th century church council that attributed divinity to Christ. And that’s it then. All wrapped up. No more discussion allowed, on pain of the rack if you had your way…

          • Oh dear ….

            The New Testament is full of references to the Divinity of Christ. From the four canonical Gospels through the book of Acts and the Pauline Epistles, Jesus is not only seen as the Christ) but also equated with God Himself.
            The Apostle Paul refers to the Divinity of Christ in Titus 2:13 and says that Jesus existed in the “form of God” prior to His incarnation in Philippians 2:5-8. Jesus is referred to as the Creator Himself in John 1:3 and in Colossians 1:16-17. Christ’s Deity is also proclaimed in Revelation 1:7 and 2:8; 1 Corinthians 10:4; and 1 Peter 5:4.
            No Christian denies the Divinity of Jesus the Christ or the Trinity.

          • Inspector General

            Well, it all rests on what you mean by divinity. One does not dispute that Christ is not OF God, but that he is not actually God. In both cases, divinity rings true. And to top it all, Jesus refers to his father in heaven, just as the Inspector might refer to his own father at the bar of the Catholic Club. Can you follow that – you should be able to as it makes more sense than the twisted and mal shaped out of all recognition man made item that is called the trinity.

          • Go read your bible, Inspector.

            “In the beginning was the Word: the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things came into being, not one thing came into being except through him …

            The Word became flesh, he lived among us, and we saw his glory, the glory that he has from the Father as only Son of the Father, full of grace and truth.”

          • Inspector General

            For your delectation, the Inspector has left something for you in Cranmer’s home page. Free text area. Enjoy…

        • Phil R

          Perhaps you should try disputing the argument with something more than Lol

          or is lol all you have?

          • DanJ0

            It’s just a poor and blatant misrepresentation at the end of the day. I think “Lol” pretty much covers it, really.

          • Phil R

            We tried your society without God

            Million’s died because the morals of the majority or the powerful decreed it necessary for the good of society

          • DanJ0

            My society? You’re living in it now, you moron.

          • Phil R

            Give the latest few gimmicks like destroying marriage a few years to bed and we will see the net result of the brave new world soon enough

            Religious wars? Your lot have killed more people than all the previous wars combined

            and some

          • DanJ0

            My lot? Oh lordy, you’re doing that conflation thing with 20th century communism again by the look of it. Will you ever get it into your thick skull …

          • Phil R

            All comments from you are on a similar vein

            If all else fails insult

          • DanJ0

            But nothing has failed. Quite the opposite really.

          • Phil R

            No you make am unrelated statement followed by insult

            I am not surprised. With all athiests insult invariably substitutes for argument

          • DanJ0

            Feel free to apologise for misrepresenting my views.

          • Phil R

            You first

            feel free to argue rather than insult

          • DanJ0

            I haven’t misrepresented you. I’ve merely ridiculed you, after the fact, for being a feckwit.

          • Inspector General

            Keep a civil tongue in your head, you scoundrel. it’s not just Phil you abuse on line…

    • dannybhoy

      I’m sure there’s an official heading for your particular understanding of the Christian faith Inspector, but I’m not sure what…
      Deist? I dunno. You might be better suited to Judaism… :0)
      When Jesus the man cried out “Eloi, Eloi lama sabacthani?” one believes it was for the first time He was truly separated from His Father.
      “It is finished!” was His final cry, not “Why?”

    • Hi inspector

      In Judaism G-d is “Our Father” (Isaiah 63:16) and “Our King” (Isaiah 33:22). A song we sing during Rosh Hashanah & Yom Kippur called Avinu Malkeinu – which Barbra Streisand used , is based on this concept , like this:

      “Our Father, Our King
      Be gracious and answer our prayers
      For we have little to commend us
      Deal kindly and gently with us
      And save our people”

  • Human suffering became the catalyst for proposing a passible and thus suffering God. Surely, a loving God must suffer in solidarity with those who suffer? The argument is expressed with sentiment and emotion, that God be an immutable, impassible, idle, and indifferent bystander in the midst of such unspeakable suffering. If God is a loving and compassionate God, as He surely is, He must not only be aware of human suffering, but He must also Himself be an “active” victim of such suffering. He, too, must suffer.

    Our culture promotes the virtues of compassion, empathy, and “feeling one another’s pain.” In such a culture, it is we want to speak of God as compassionate, empathic and suffering as we suffer. It lies behind so many heterodox ideas and has become a modernist justification for permitting evils such as homosexual marriage, abortion and euthanasia.

    Human suffering is a mystery but Saint Pope John Paul – a man who knew great personal suffering in his own life – offered some profound meditations in his Apostolic letter Salvifici Doloris in 1984:

    http://w2.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/apost_letters/1984/documents/hf_jp-ii_apl_11021984_salvifici-doloris.html

    For anyone interested, there is a short summary of the main themes here:

    http://w2.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/apost_letters/1984/documents/hf_jp-ii_apl_11021984_salvifici-doloris.html

    Jack would highly recommend spending time reading the actual Apostolic letter as suffering is experienced by us all.

    • Inspector General

      Now let’s see what we have here. “He must” “He must” . Oh, that’s nice, a “He, too, must” to break up the monotony of ‘everything you want from your own designer god’

      Must he now, all your impassioned hope above?. Let’s look for the evidence. Ah, there is none. Instead we can but fall back on the evidence that is, thin as it is, as to God’s real nature. Oh Lord, he’s not our best mate after all…

      • If you read what Jack wrote you’ll note he was describing a modern heterodoxy and named this view of God suffering as a “misconception” (a kind word) used to justify all sorts of modern evils.

        • Inspector General

          Yes, one sees now. You must forgive the Inspector, and anyone else for that matter who struggles with your ambiguous statements…

          • What did you claim your IQ to be?

            “This misconception lies behind so many heterodox ideas and has become a modernist justification for permitting moral evils such as abortion and euthanasia.”

            Nothing ambiguous about that statement. One expects a certain level of comprehension from the readers of this blog (American’s excepted).

          • Phil R

            No nothing ambiguous when you point it out.

            However, I read it the same way as the Inspector the first time. You seemed to me to be making a convoluted argument in favour of abortion and euthanasia.

          • Then Jack will edit and amend the post to make it clearer.

          • dannybhoy

            Erm am I now looking at the amended version or the original?
            Makes perfect sense to me…

          • The amended version contains an underlined paragraph with the word EDIT.

          • dannybhoy

            Ah. I see it now, You might as well edit the “American’s excepted” slip before Avi sees it….,

          • He’s Canadian-Jewish and will agree.

          • dannybhoy

            I didn’t mean that. You know he picked us up on our grammar and punctuation last week..
            You wrote “American’s excepted”, and it should have been “Americans excepted..”
            You see, cousin William?

          • Eh?

          • carl jacobs

            Thank you for recording this. It was most helpful to me.

          • Grouchy Jack

            Grrrr …..

          • carl jacobs

            Wait. I know this.

            I’ll take “Sounds of Regret” for $200 Alex.

            Grrrr …..

            What is the sound of a deflating purple blueberry?

          • Grouchy Jack

          • carl jacobs

            Heh. I see below that you screwed up the grammar. Poetic justice.

          • Grammar isn’t an indication of intelligence but education.

          • carl jacobs

            It was simply humorous to watch you get all condescending – only to shoot your own foot off.

          • Ummm … just a minor scratch Carl but your concern is appreciated.

    • DanJ0
  • Anton

    I abhor, detest and dispute ardently the notion that God is impassible. (Protestant theologians are no better than Aquinas in this regard.) There is some quibbling about the difference between impassible and impassive but it is basically the same. You need only read the Old Testament to see that God loves his creation project but hates sinners who wreck it; that he loves Israel but feels deep pain over Israel’s unfaithfulness to him, as revealed through the prophets. One prophet was even told to marry a prostitute and tell the people that God felt as he did. The paradoxes asserted by philosopher-theologians who came up with this heretical nonsense (and have the gall to call their opponents heretics) are much better resolved by taking into account the difference between God the Father and God the Son.

    • Heretic …

      • dannybhoy

        :0)

      • Anton

        God bless you and the same to you!

        • This subject raises deep philosophical and theological issues about the nature of God and the nature of the Trinity.

          As you know, Jack is Catholic. Without thinking too deeply on the subject, he has always believed that the Crucifixion is an eternal event – stretching back and forward in time – as well as a concrete historical event. Every sin we commit adds to Christ’s suffering and grief; every work of mercy lessens His suffering and pain; and every time we join with Christ and offer our sufferings to God, we share in some way in Christ’s expiation for man’s sin.

          It’s a Catholic ‘thing’ ….

          • Inspector General

            ” Every sin we commit adds to Christ’s suffering and grief; ”

            One should think that today, Christ neither suffers nor grieves over humanity, having given it his best shot, and he is not the whipping boy for humanity. Anyway, Christianity can do without ridiculous hyperbole like that, don’t you think?

          • Don’t you believe it was your sins that Christ died for too, Inspector? Or is it just the sins of the “lesser races” and homosexuals he atoned for?

          • Inspector General

            Christ dying on a cross was as much a surprise to him as ‘dying’ for our sins would be. Why would he wish to die for OUR sins?

            Shouldn’t you be flagellating with a kettle lead right now?

          • God you are a peculiar follower of Jesus Christ and no mistake, Inspector.

          • Inspector General

            Maybe the Inspector has just dispensed with early church superstitious bullshit and it’s time to appreciate Christ as God’s messenger. Not some proxy execution victim for the saving of us and the idea that to be alive is a bloody sin and steeped in guilt…

          • What anger. In Jack’s opinion, what you are doing, for whatever reason, is hiding from God, Inspector. Are you fearful of Him? God loves you; He died for you; He’s waiting for you. Go to the sacrament of Confession, wipe the slate clean and receive the Eucharist.

          • Inspector General

            Hiding from God? You fool. You won’t find a greater God fearing man on this site. Do you really want to know what the crucifixion was all about? It was that God’s appointed messenger did not curse humanity by calling us bastards who all deserve a slow painful death too while up on the cross. THAT shows the mercy God has given us.

          • chiefofsinners

            Did you come up with this all by yourself or is there someone else out there who agrees with you? Have you perhaps had a visitation from the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society?

          • Inspector General

            Did you know the Inspector found Cranmer’s blog immediately. He didn’t even have a PC then, was using a friends. Maybe he was placed here to explain to all.

            And a goodnight to you, Chief.

          • Or … perhaps … to begin to see things differently.

          • chiefofsinners

            Sleep well. Such greatness must be an exhausting burden, but you must accept your destiny with grace and humility.

          • Inspector General

            Yes, but we must remember the devil never rests, nor apparently does Jack.

            Hmmm….

          • chiefofsinners

            If there’s much more of this I’m going to send both you boys to your rooms.
            Mum

          • Jack wouldn’t put it quite like that.

            Agreed, we are all bastards and unworthy of the sacrifice made by Christ. Without it we’d have all been consigned to Hell already. And yet, He freely chose to Incarnate as man knowing how He was to die and, in His humanity, sweated tears of blood in fear beforehand. He did it that we might be forgiven and spared the Justice of God and be transformed and renewed and overcome our fallen, wounded natures.

            That’s Mercy and that’s Love – and you are resisting His call.

          • Inspector General

            Well that’s it from the inspector tonight, Jack. One hopes all is well with you and yours…

            Cheery pip!

          • Jack will pray for you, Inspector. God Bless you and yours too.

          • James M

            Hebrews 12 denies we are bastards…

          • “You won’t find greater God fearing man on this site.”

            Then move past the fear …. It’s the beginning of wisdom, not its summit.

          • sarky

            “Fear is the path to the dark side…fear leads to anger…anger leads to hate…hate leads to suffering.” 

            Yoda.

          • Wise little person is Yoda …

            “Yes, a Jedi’s strength flows from the Force. But beware of the dark side. Anger, fear, aggression; the dark side of the Force are they. Easily they flow, quick to join you in a fight. If once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny, consume you it will, as it did …”

            The Christian fear of God is different and is a positive gift from God. Essentially, it is comprises a profound respect for the Perfection of God and a healthy dread of offending Him. It is not servile as it rests on a security coming from an awareness of the Love of God and a desire not to offend Him rather than a dread of punishment.

            There is: “a vivid sense of God’s greatness, a lively sorrow for the least faults committed, and a vigilant care in avoiding occasions of sin. It is expressed in prayer of the Psalmist, “My whole being trembles before you, your ruling fills me with fear” (Psalm 119:120).”

          • James M

            Not everyone a Buddhist is. No, Preciousssss.

          • James M

            You’re confusing Christianity with (a debased version of) Calvinism. Thinking that we are disgusting, putrid little worms who should repent in dust and ashes for daring to be created by a God Who hates us, is not Christianity; but it is a very persistent simulacrum of it. “God the Monster” is not “the God and Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ”.

            Christ is God’s Messenger, not because He is less than God absolutely speaking, but because He is God in Person – He is God’s “Self-insert”/”Avatar character”, in the sub-created Divine fiction that is history. He is the Main Character, the Point of the whole thing.

          • Inspector General

            One agrees with your first paragraph James. We are as God intended us, and if we sin, that is part of the package that he must accept. As for “Christ died for our sins”, no he didn’t. He came to us to show us the way to co-exist with each other.

          • Hi inspector

            “Shouldn’t you be flagellating with a kettle lead right now?”

            Like normally a LOL, but I hope to purge such an image from my mind, especially as it’s Yom Kippur eve : Pray , Repent, Give to charity and then on the day No eating and drinking, No wearing of leather shoes, No bathing or washing, No anointing oneself with perfumes or lotions, No sexual stuff.

            I’ll add this vision to my thoughts when I sing the Al Cheyt confession and repentance prayer laters(why use a broker when you have direct line ?), especially the ending (in Hebrew though) :

            “For transgressing positive and prohibitory mitzvot, whether the prohibitions can be rectified by a specifically prescribed act or not, those of which we are aware and those of which we are not aware; those of which we are aware, we have already declared them before You and confessed them to You, and those of which we are not aware : before You they are revealed and known, as it is stated:”The hidden things belong to the L-rd our G-d, “but the revealed things are for us and for our children forever, that we may carry out all the words of the Torah. For You are the Pardoner of Israel and the Forgiver of the tribes of Yeshurun in every generation, and aside from You we have no King who forgives and pardons.” Amen

          • Inspector General

            No bathing or washing!

          • Hi Inspector

            It’s what we do on fast days. All part of the holiest day in Judaism. I’m fully showered and bathed now though (:

          • Inspector General

            One thanks you Hannah for your providing insights to us of all of Jewish custom. And Avi too, mustn’t forget him and his dietary illustrations…

          • Anton

            Nothing wrong with that, except I’d say it’s a catholic thing…

          • carl jacobs

            As you know, Jack is Catholic.

            It’s not hopeless, though. Don’t despair. If we all work together, we can help get you out of this situation..

          • It would be easier putting Humpty Dumpty back together again.

          • James M

            Why does Jack talk like Dobby the House-elf ?

            https://twitter.com/wordsbydan/status/489384198546145280?ref_src=twsrc^tfw

          • dannybhoy

            ” Every sin we commit adds to Christ’s suffering and grief; every work of mercy lessens His suffering and pain; and every time we join with Christ and offer our sufferings to God, in union with Christ, we share in some way in Christ’s expiation for man’s sin.”

            Golly! No pressure there then, brother Jack. So when He cried on the cross “It is finished!” ……according to Catholic doctrine it wasn’t?

            Hebrews 7…
            ” 24 But He, because He continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood. 25 Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.
            26 For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens;
            27 who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people’s, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself.
            28 For the law appoints as high priests men who have weakness, but the word of the oath, which came after the law, appoints the Son who has been perfected forever.”

          • Christ’s sacrifice is outside of ‘time’ and whilst time exists and men sin, He continues to suffer on the Cross.
            Read Matthew 25:31-46

          • dannybhoy

            Then we would appear to have a Scriptural contradiction Jack!

            As I understand it our Lord is saying in that passage from Matthew…

            “40 And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.”
            Who’s He talking to?
            The righteous, who showed kindness and compassion to the least of ‘these His brethren.’
            Who are the least of His brethren? His followers.
            Our Lord lives in us by the Holy Spirit and shares in our sufferings -not our sins.
            As it says in Hebrews 7…
            “25 Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.
            26 For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy,
            harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens;
            27 who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people’s, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself.”
            Then in 1st John 1…
            5 This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.

            6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.

            7 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.
            8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

            9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

            10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar,
            and His word is not in us.

            We Christians are forgiven through the act of confession and repentance. That was made possible on the Cross..

          • There’s no contradiction, Danny. Jack is not sure why you think there might be.

            Christ’s uttered the word “TELELESTAI” on the Cross. Look up its meaning.

          • dannybhoy

            “What does the Greek word “tetelestai” mean?”

            https://bible.org/question/what-does-greek-word-tetelestai-mean
            If it is finished, that means Christ’s role as Meshiach and Saviour (Passover lamb) is finished.
            He is now as per Hebrews 7 our High Priest. He will return as per Matthew 25 as the Son of Man and King..
            To say that Christ can continue in a place of suffering is to deny His victory over sin and His role as our High Priest.
            To infer (as some do) that Mary then intercedes for us to the suffering Christ is to rather distort Scripture Jack.

          • That’s one interpretation. It has others. Google around a bit more.

          • dannybhoy

            I suppose you could recommend some….. ;0)

          • Jack’s favourite site is Catholic Culture. He doesn’t know if it has an article on this.
            “The Seven Last Words of Christ” are laden with meaning.
            A translation of the word, not favoured by some, is “Fulfilled” … which itself has layers of meaning.

          • dannybhoy

            Layers of meaning is great if you need layers..
            I think I share an inclination to pedantry with you, but I am also a simple soul, with no need for further complications and nuances of meaning once I have grasped the basic premise…..

          • James M

            This seems a bit “off” to me. Doesn’t it undermine the logic of the Incarnation, which has God “coming into” history as a man like us ? How can His Sacrifice be eternal, if sacrifice is a category of religious activity invented by man ?

            If there are Elves in some far distant galaxy, and if they sin after the world men inhabit has ceased to be, will the Sacrifice of Christ endure for these Elves as well ? Or does the Sacrifice of Christ have efficacy no longer than the human race exists, whether on earth or some other planet ?

          • Neihan

            God, being eternal, is “present” in every moment in a way we aren’t.

            Imagine a piece of paper on which there is a line. Imagine this line is conscious of itself, not in its entirety but only of one of its points at a time. Imagine this conscious point moves from the line’s start to the line’s end, yet at each given moment the line only conceives of a single point.

            To the line, only conscious of one point, it seems to itself to be lengthening. It “remembers” previous points, though as less real than its current point, and has no conception of future points.

            However, someone who looked at the paper would see the line in its entirety. Each point on the line would be experienced simultaneously. Where as the line only experiences one point at any given moment, and these in a particular order.

            The paper is time, we are the line, and the points are each conscious moment. God, being Eternal, is “outside” of time (which did not exist logically prior to creation). Each moment is real and “present” to God. Not like it is to us, who only experience one particular moment.

            That is how God can take an action within time which affects all moments in time. That is, our Lord died on the cross for our sins. Not as a remedy for potential sins, but truly for each specific sin.

            God knows every moment, not as one who remembers things which have happened, or who predicts future events which haven’t come to pass, but as one who sees an event transpiring.

          • James M

            Thought-provoking – but it doesn’t quite meet the difficulty about how the Death of Christ might apply to a race existing after the human race… God is Eternal – but men (& Elves) are not.

          • Neihan

            I do not understand. Assuming it’s in their nature to have changeable wills, what would be the impediment for any fallen, rational creature to be saved by the Cross of Christ?

          • James M

            I’m not saying there would be an impediment. I’m just wondering how the Death of Christ would be made effective, after mankind was no more, for a non-human race. That Christ became man to benefit fallen men, does not mean that man is of particular importance; it means only that God has taken the trouble to save a needy human race.

            If the human race died out 5,000 years before an Elvish race, elsewhere in space, would the same salvation be at work for both races at “different” times ? Is talk about salvation affected by the size of the universe and the speed of light ? Does the traditional way of discussing this question work only with a very small universe, rather than the gigantic, possibly expanding, one that we know ? God is eternal – but men (and Elves) are not.

          • Neihan

            I suppose it would depend on whether our Lord died for “humans” in the modern sense (homosapiens) or humans in the ancient sense, that is, rational creatures.

            It seems to me that the DNA isn’t the important part. Rather, it is being a rational creature with free will. Our Lord died in order to reconcile sinners with God. In as much as a space elf is a rational creature with a free will, then he and I are the same sort of creatures in the way that matters. I cannot imagine that the Cross would be less efficacious for him than for me on account of some differences in geography and DNA.

            It’s an interesting question. What do you think?

          • Brian Kelly

            Nonsense. Learn some Greek and read the NT: ‘epaphax’ – He suffered once, then ascended to glory, taking his seat at the right hand of God the Father. Christ does NOT continue to suffer on the Cross. Even J H Newman was clear on this. The Eucharist is not the re-enactment of Calvary but the commemoration.

  • Martin

    It seems to me that the problem with this post is that it is men trying to understand and not men reading the Bible.

    1. God is immutable:

    God is not man, that he should lie,
    or a son of man, that he should change his mind.
    Has he said, and will he not do it?
    Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?
    (Numbers 23:19 [ESV]

    For I the LORD do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed. (Malachi 3:6 [ESV])

    2. He cares for His rebellious Creation:

    The LORD said to Cain, Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it. (Genesis 4:6-7 [ESV])

    As has already been mentioned:

    O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not! (Matthew 23:37 [ESV])

    3. Yet He loves some and not others:

    As it is written, Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated. (Romans 9:13 [ESV]

    4. For the believer suffering is of benefit:

    And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28 [ESV]

    More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. (Romans 5:3-5 [ESV]

    5.For the unbeliever suffering is the natural outcome of sin:

    And to Adam he said,
    Because you have listened to the voice of your wife
    and have eaten of the tree
    of which I commanded you,
    You shall not eat of it,
    cursed is the ground because of you;
    in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;
    thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you;
    and you shall eat the plants of the field.
    By the sweat of your face
    you shall eat bread,
    till you return to the ground,
    for out of it you were taken;
    for you are dust,
    and to dust you shall return.
    (Genesis 3:17-19 [ESV])

    There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answered them, Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. (Luke 13:1-5 [ESV]

    Always there are two or more aspects in tension. Always we see the suffering of the unbeliever is the result of their unbelief.

    • James M

      The Book of Job doesn’t favour the last sentence in that post. Besides, ISTM that the Fact of Christ abolishes the distance between believers and unbelievers. Unbelievers are not “them out there”, unbelievers are us all: “All have fallen short of the Glory of God…”, believers included. Christians are no different from unbelievers, because Christians too need to have their unbelief overcome.

      • Martin

        James

        But Job was a believer and God had a purpose behind his suffering.

        Yes, believers are as wretched as their fellows by nature, yet their nature has been changed, they have been born again.

  • len

    Why does God allow suffering?.
    Why does God allow man free will would be a question more to the point!. The simple answer to that question is that God could have created a race of beings that were programmed to obey God with no other option …a race of robots .
    We cannot command someone to love us it is a choice of free will or it is no choice at all.

    But being separated from God is not a matter of remaining ‘neutral’ (as many people think) but to come under the authority of Satan and it is Satan who spreads death disease and destruction throughout this world anywhere where the God of the Bible has been rejected.

  • Anna

    “In all their affliction he was afflicted…” Isaiah 63:9 (ESV)

    God suffers. He suffers because of his involvement with sinful man – he is not distant from us, but shares in our suffering. Love suffers. Because he suffers, it follows that he is capable of suffering. This much is clear from the scriptures.

    If we humans, with our limited intelligence, try to probe any deeper into the mystery of God’s suffering, we are likely to stray into all kinds of erroneous conclusions. For example, does God’s self-sufficiency imply that he is either incapable of or impervious to suffering? How does one reconcile these two aspects of God’s nature? We cannot – because our minds are small, our understanding is restricted. We will know ‘only in part’ while in the flesh.

    A more important question is: what should our response be?

    1. We should draw comfort from this knowledge. The fact that God suffers and sympathises with our weaknesses, failures and suffering should be a source of great comfort to us.

    2. We should embrace our portion of suffering (so difficult to do), and not complain (even more difficult) or grow bitter. Christ suffered not only with us; he suffered for us. As we grow in love, we will hopefully also grow in willingness to suffer with Christ.

    3. Imitating Christ, we should seek to comfort others. God is the ‘Father of all comfort’ and we experience his comfort in order to become comforters.

    • dannybhoy

      It is indeed a mystery Anna, but God is not ‘diminished’ or brought down to our understanding of or experience of suffering. I think that it is God the Son who truly experienced suffering as a man on our behalf and with the full assent of the Father and the Holy Spirit. Tis indeed a mystery, but one that must fill us with awe.

      • Anna

        THE MYSTERY OF PAIN.

        Pain has an element of blank;
        It cannot recollect
        When it began, or if there were
        A day when it was not.

        It has no future but itself,
        Its infinite realms contain
        Its past, enlightened to perceive
        New periods of pain.

        Emily Dickinson

  • doctordeb

    Jesus suffered while he was on earth. In ways that we cannot imagine. The amazing thing, more amazing to me even than the incarnation, is that he not only lived and died and was resurrected but lives within , not just alongside the believer. He was born of the Holy Spirit,so it was just him and the Holy Spirit? When he comes to live in us…….wow, that must be really hard!.
    As long as he is in the world, he suffers. He suffers along with us and he suffers because we are so very hard to live within!. But I am glad He is willing not just to die for my sins but to live within me, put up with me. Be reincarnated all over again, in all believers. But one day His and our sufferings,( and I am sure he suffers in other ways, too) will be over. Maranatha!

  • David

    Suffering is of two types. Human derived and nature derived.

    Human derived suffering is that suffering due to our fallen nature where one human inflicts pain on another, albeit sometimes unwittingly, indirectly and perhaps many many thousands of miles away from themselves.
    Nature derived suffering is that category of suffering due to earthquakes, tsunami, drought or some terrible, but natural disease. These things are all part of the price we pay for being alive in a real world, controlled by Physics with its unthinking, unfeeling forces, and genetics with its cruel efficiencies and failures. God did not start life through his “origin spark” for us to live in a cotton wool, carefully protected, cocooned world; he graciously grants all biological based life, its vital existence as a part of the great rough and tumble of a vibrant physical world of mass, energy, velocity plus a system of cells, genetics and evolution of physical forms. Life is therefore both real and risky. Sadly people do get hurt.
    But to live is a wonderful gift from God.

    As for those like Mr Dawkins who loudly assert that God could not possibly exist, because of the unchanging existence of human pain, well I honestly believe that if it could be proved that God does not exist, which is an impossibility of course, then they would be most disappointed. Those who claim to be sure that God does not exist seem mighty disturbed about those of us who are convinced that he does. It seems that they need God to define themselves against. Where would they be without Him, or us believers for that matter ?

  • Darter Noster

    Passus et sepultus est – he suffered (death) and was buried, as the Creed says.

    God became man in Christ and suffered not just the day-to-day problems of humanity but the horrific and brutal death of a slave.

    The Passion of Christ is the Latin ‘passio’ – suffering. Without the compassion – suffering together – of God made man, of the teeny little babe in his mothers arms, of the humbled and vulnerable King – what meaning does Christianity have?

  • cacheton

    ‘God does not send pain and suffering on man, but rather He permits pain and suffering, which, like the suffering of the cross, cannot be separated from the resurrection to come. This is….’

    emotional blackmail. Not freedom.

  • James M

    I don’t think a “theology of Auschwitz” is possible – I think it is “obscoene” to try to devise one. ISTM that one cannot have a theology of suffering, but only intimations about it that cannot be put together systematically; because evil, which enters into suffering, is impervious to rational analysis. Evil is “absurd”, so attempting to reason about it infects those reasononings with “absurdity”.

    There seems something indecent about trying to theologise about suffering – suffering is so intimately personal, that one falsifies it and commits a sort of illegitimate reductionism upon it, if one tries to make it reasonable. That is like trying to make a lie true by reasoning about it – it is still a lie, still a falsehood. And one can ot