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Explain how the theodicy of Irenaeus differs from that of Augustine.

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Introduction

Explain how the theodicy of Irenaeus differs from that of Augustine. A theodicy is "an attempt to justify God's existence in the face of evil and suffering", necessary as a result of the idea of the Inconsistent Triad, which states that the classic qualities of omnipotence and omnibenevolence associated with the conventional idea of the Christian God are entirely incompatible with the idea of evil and suffering. Either God is not all-powerful, and therefore cannot intervene to prevent evil, or God is malicious and chooses to inflict evil upon humanity. Both views are obviously unsustainable for Christians and necessitate theodicies such as those put forward by Augustine and Irenaeus in an attempt to prove that classical visions of deity are still sustainable when challenged by the evident evil and suffering present in our world. The Irenaean theodicy attempts to justify God's existence alongside evil by rationalising evil as a result of the free choice of humans. ...read more.

Middle

Augustine stated that natural evil was a fitting punishment for this sin and justified the fact that this might appear to contradict the idea of a loving and forgiving God by stating that God was clearly merciful as he had allowed the sacrifice of his only son; he also used the idea of innate sin to dismiss the idea of innocent suffering. He said that since all human beings were present in Adam then we all bear his sin and there is no longer such thing as an innocent or perfect human being. Augustine stated that evil did not stem from God, but was brought in through human abuse of the natural order. When Adam and Eve committed the Original Sin and gained knowledge, they abused nature and introduced evil into the world. Therefore evil stems entirely from humanity, and not from God, which means that the question of God's involvement in evil and suffering is not necessary. ...read more.

Conclusion

Irenaeus' ideas have also been supported and built upon by modern philosophers Hick and Swinburne, who maintain Irenaeus' idea that goodness must be developed to have any meaning. However, there are still inherent problems with the ideas expressed by Irenaeus. Man's choices do not always lead to development and growth and there is evidence that humans can occasionally prevent this. This refutes Irenaeus' ideas about human choices resulting in development. Although logically Irenaeus is much more satisfactory than Augustine, the argument that love can never be expressed by such huge suffering as has been experienced in the world, no matter as to what end, is still valid in the case of both the Augustinian and the Irenaean theodicies. It seems that the quantity and inhumanity of recent suffering, even during the 20th century alone, would render an explanation of a loving God allowing this to occur for any reason appalling. Neither theodicy really addresses this problem or justifies a reason for an omnipotent God allowing this to happen. Furthermore, the problem of evil is not dismissed entirely by either theodicy, and both remain reflective and insubstantial. ...read more.

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