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: CT9029W

Unit status: Approved (New unit)

Points: 24.0

Unit level: Postgraduate Elective

Unit discipline: Systematic Theology

Delivery Mode: Face to Face

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, independent and critical theological response to the problem of evil and suffering


Demonstrate competencies for postgraduate-level research and writing

Unit sequence

72 points in Foundational Studies including 48 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 (%)

Essay 4,500 words

4500 50.0
Annotated Bibliography

Annotated Bibliography 1,500 words

1500 30.0
Document Study

Document Study 1,000 words

1000 20.0

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

Unit record last updated: 2019-10-15 08:39:55 +1100