Irenic Thoughts

Irenic. The word means peaceful. This web log (or blog) exists to create an ongoing, and hopefully peaceful, series of comments on the life of King of Peace Episcopal Church. This is not a closed community. You are highly encouraged to comment on any post or to send your own posts.


Does God Suffer?

At about three o'clock,
Jesus called out with a loud voice,
"Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?"
which means,
"My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"
—Matthew 27:46

Since Christ suffered physical pain,
you must arm yourselves with the same attitude he had,
and be ready to suffer, too.
—1 Peter 4:1 (NLT)
Marc Chagall painting...If God were in every respect incapable of suffering, he would also be incapable of love. He would at most be able to love himself, but not anything other than himself. But if he is capable of loving something other than himself, then he opens himself for the suffering which love for the other brings him, while still remaining master of the pain which is the consequence of his love. God does not suffer out of deficiency of being, like created beings. But he does suffer from his love, which is the overflowing superabundance of his being. And in this sense he can suffer.
Jürgen Moltmann (1926- ) from his book Jesus Christ for Today's World quoted at Biblische Ausbildung where my Old Testament professor and friend previously took up this question here: Does God Suffer?.

That post offers a link to a very interesting PDF chart by Matthew R. Schlimm of Duke University working with the Old Testament texts on suffering. The chart is here: Does God suffer as humanity suffers. Schlimm concludes that there is definitely shared suffering on God's side of the equation, but, that differences remain between God's suffering and human suffering.

As for me, I look at tragedies in the world such as the recent deaths at Virginia Tech and the tornadoes in Kansas, etc. and knowing that God love's us so much assume that he suffers with those who suffer and feel that scripture and our experience of God's compassion in our own lives back up this assumption. What do you think?

The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor

Teach these new disciples to obey
all the commands I have given you.
And be sure of this:
I am with you always, even to the end of the age.
—Matthew 28:20



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