This unit proceeds on the premise that the Christian community must learn to speak responsibly about suffering: both the suffering in its midst and its being in the midst of suffering. It (i) critically examines some of the ‘Christian’ theodicies (from St Augustine to Thomas Aquinas, Alvin Plantinga, John Cobb, Catherine Keller, Marilyn McCord Adams, David Bentley Hart, and others) and anti-theodicies (from Fyodor Dostoevsky to Theodor Adorno, D.Z. Phillips, Donald MacKinnon, Kazoh Kitamori, Simone Weil, Jürgen Moltmann, Paul Fiddes and others) that have been proposed; (ii) enquires to what extent they are determined by the action of God’s becoming incarnate; and (iii) explores the nature of faith faced with the realities to which theodicies have attempted to speak.

Unit code: CT3029W

Unit status: Approved (New unit)

Points: 18.0

Unit level: Undergraduate Level 3

Unit discipline: Systematic Theology

Proposing College: Whitley College

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Learning outcomes


Critically examine some of the ‘theodicies’ and ‘anti-theodicies’ that have been proposed within selected Christian traditions


Demonstrate where the theological challenges lie in selected intersections between suffering, faith and evil


Articulate a robust theological response to the problem of evil and suffering

Unit sequence

36 points in CT


The unit will comprise of weekly lectures (2 hours) plus a tutorial (1 hour), both engaging with the topic for that module. Weekly readings will be assigned. These will form the basis of the tutorial discussions.

Indicative Bibliography

  • Adams, Marilyn McCord. Horrendous Evils and the Goodness of God. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1999.
  • Augustine. On the Free Choice of the Will, On Grace and Free Choice and Other Writings, Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010.
  • Fiddes, Paul S. The Creative Suffering of God. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1988.
  • Forsyth, P.T. The Justification of God: Lectures for War-Time on a Christian Theodicy. London: Duckworth, 1916.
  • Hart, David Bentley. The Doors of the Sea: Where Was God in the Tsunami? Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2005.
  • Levenson, Jon D.* Creation and the Persistence of Evil: The Jewish Drama of Divine Omnipotence*. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994.
  • MacKinnon, Donald M. Borderlands of Theology. Edited by George W. Roberts and Donovan E. Smucker. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Company, 1968.
  • Sölle, Dorothee. Suffering. Translated by E. Kalin. London: Darton, Longman & Todd, 1975.
  • Swinton, John. Raging with Compassion: Pastoral Responses to the Problem of Evil. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2007.
  • Weil, Simone. Waiting for God. Translated by Emma Craufurd. London: Harper Perennial, 2001.


Type Description Word count Weight (%)
Annotated Bibliography - Annotated Bibliography 1000 25.0
Document Study - Document Study 1000 25.0
Essay - Essay 3000 50.0

Unit approved for the University of Divinity by John Capper on 30 Sep, 2019

Unit record last updated: 2019-10-14 15:01:29 +1100