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Willimon, Ehrmann, and the Problem of Suffering

I agree with Bishop Willimon that the problem of suffering is not really like an algebra problem to be solved, but rather more like an evil to be combated.

Pine Grove UMC (pastor, Don Burgess) was built over a hundred years ago, with stone that was pulled up the hill by mule teams. Now, those huge stones have been cast all over the hillside and Pine Grove Church has been leveled to its foundations. That same day I stood among the volunteers working at Pleasant Grove Church (pastor, John Gates) and saw nearly equal destruction of one of our beloved churches.

No one around me at those locations of terrible destruction asked, “Why me? Why God?” Most of them were too busy, drenched in sweat, and dust from the rubble to pause to engage in philosophical speculation. Their most persistent question was, “How can we do more to support and work for the victims?”

And that seems very Christian to me. Jesus was not a great philosopher who came with a set of noble precepts and brilliant ideals. Jesus never said, “Think about me.” Rather it was always, “Follow me!”

Explanations, even very clever ones, can only go so far, after all.



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