• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Examine and consider the significance of modern teaching about a suffering God.

Extracts from this document...


CONOR MCGLOIN EXAMINE AND CONSIDER THE SIGNIFICANCE OF MODERN TEACHING ABOUT A SUFFERING GOD. (12 marks) Before tackling the question, it is important to have an understanding of what 'modern' teaching regarding a suffering God entails, and similarly what 'traditional' teaching entails. Up until the twentieth century, Christian theology in general stated that God was not capable of suffering. The twentieth century, however, saw a huge change in theologian's views regarding the nature of a suffering God - indeed, there was a complete reversal of previous opinions. For centuries, the orthodox view of God was that he could not suffer. There were (and still are) compelling reasons to hold this belief. The idea of God suffering has certain negative connotations. In order to suffer, there must be a cause for suffering, and if God can be affected, and hurt (for the idea of suffering certainly entails the idea of hurt) by some other being or event, surely he is not all powerful. The idea of suffering also raises the question of whether it means God changes, and how that fits with the Christian belief that God is perfect. In traditional Christian thinking, God is considered the perfect being, or entity. Now, if a perfect being changes in someway, surely this indicates a change away from perfection. ...read more.


This argument also raised questions concerning the empathetic nature of God. In order to be empathetic, God must share our suffering with us. This a major change in theological thinking, but there are problems regarding the nature of such a change. It could be said that the Church was simply changing its doctrine in order to accommodate a changing world. The Church must be careful not to change for the wrong reasons, as it would undermine its influence, and the respect it has. In the twentieth century, theologians also undertook the restudying of the Old Testament. New conclusions were drawn regarding the nature of God. He was seen, in the Old Testament, as a 'passionate' God, who understood the needs of his people and responded accordingly. He is seen to be angry at times, and is capable of punishing those who anger him. These are all seemingly emotional capabilities, and seem to indicate that God is able to relate to his people because he actually feels what they feel. This meant the Church had to reassess how they looked upon the nature of a suffering God, especially in relation to the study of the bible. Another significant problem raised during the twentieth century is that of religious plagiarism. ...read more.


The question of whether the Church was just finally succumbing to pressure from its followers has to be asked, though. This is, after all, a massive change in the belief system of the Church. It is also important to examine the argument concerning the nature of, and connection, between emotions. Christians often talk about God loving his people. The human perception of love is of an extremely strong emotion, and one that invariably involves suffering as well. If God is not capable of suffering with us, modern theologians said, surely God cannot be capable of experiencing love for us. Love will always involve suffering, and God must understand this emotion in order to love. The change in theologian thinking appears to have made God's love for us seem more certain than before. There is one more counter-argument to the modern teaching regarding God's impassibility. Christians believe God to be perfect, but if God is perfect, yet still suffers, is there any hope of a life free from suffering? Perhaps this new teaching could be considered as damning humans to a life of suffering, rather than giving them the opportunity to believe in a life free from pain. The change in the Church's teaching regarding a suffering God has undoubtedly seen a huge change in theology. It has shown itself to be a constantly changing and evolving thing, and has seemingly shown God to still be relevant in a modern world. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Existence of God section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Existence of God essays

  1. Explain the Ontological argument.

    They are effectively arguing that religion can be explained without God, and that the primary reason why people adopt a religion, is because their psychological structure enables them to. Jung's theory of religion stems from his own unique understanding of psychology.

  2. The God Question

    is because the base their thoughts on logical trains of though which often make fairly ungrounded assumptions and build their arguments from there, thus by using this impure logic they can come to incorrect, if arguable, conclusions. Ergo both sides of the debate have their argumentative flaws which must be

  1. What is meant by the problem of suffering?

    Thus making it feel more respectable and loving because if God forced us to obey and worship him he would not feel the same appreciation and love if it was at our own free will. Therefore by giving us freewill and the choice to do what we want there comes moral evil.

  2. Is God really there? If he is, does he care? And if he does, ...

    Iranaeus was the Bishop of Lyons in Gaul and lived about 125-202. His view was that God created evil. He claims that God does indeed exist, yet explains him to be responsible for the occurrence of evil as he created us to be imperfect.

  1. Identify 3 novels, short stories or poems that would have special significance to the ...

    I feel sad, he thought, and I feel good, and I feel like a boy coming home from school with a handful of dandelions. "Well," said the captain, sitting, eyes shut, sighing. "Well, where do we go now, eh, where are we going?"

  2. Outline the teaching about the Kingdom of God in the Parable's of Mark's Gospel.

    The seed, in Palestine, unlike in Britain, is a seed that produces a shrub about eight to ten feet tall with branches strong enough to support and give shelter today. The Parable of the Mustard seed is about the growth of the kingdom of God.

  1. Compare and contrast two of the following and evaluate their significance for understanding religious ...

    Tillich's explains that the power of symbols used to direct ways of thinking changes through time. This is because the meaning and impact of words change and the symbol is no longer able to direct us towards what "concerns us ultimately" as it did in the past.

  2. Evil and a God of love are incompatible so there cannot be a God ...

    but an absence of sight'4 He accounts for evil by ascribing it to human agency and it came about due to the misuse of free will and therefore all suffering is a consequence of this abuse of free will, Natural evil is caused by the imbalance in nature brought about

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work