My friend Tom, a lawyer in Dallas, made a point about suffering in my previous post that reminds me of something I read in the wake of the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004. The Archbishop of Canterbury at the time, Rowan Williams, wrote an op-ed in an English newspaper saying that whenever a natural disaster like this tsunami strikes, it shakes our faith, causing us to question our faith in God.
One popular British columnist wrote a response to the archbishop: “Who is he kidding? Churches were full the Sunday following the tsunami!” We Americans saw the same phenomenon in the weeks following 9/11.
In my own experience ministering to sufferers and the people who love them, I more often see people’s faith in God strengthened during these times. Yet, when it comes to questions of theodicy, skeptics often become indignant toward God, not on their own behalf, but on behalf of others.
As Tom observes, the indignant skeptics don’t have proper standing to do so:
Also, another point you make, i.e., that we have to ask, “Is this unfair to ME?”, as opposed to, “Is this unfair to somebody else?”, is similar to the legal doctrine of “standing.” Generally speaking, you can’t bring a challenge to a law that does not affect YOU in some way. It is up to some other person who is affected by the law to bring up the challenge, if any. Too many people who bring charges against God look at “the people in Africa.” Let those in Africa make such charges. From their perspective, they may not believe they have any more grounds to charge God with “unfairness” than we do based on our own experiences. Especially if they are Christians to begin with, i.e., to have any God to challenge in the first instance.