Christians have long been concerned about the prevalence of evil and human suffering (Theodicy) in the world.
According to Metz, Christ’s sufferings, rejection, and crucifixion on the cross provide a solution to the theological dilemma of human suffering. Because man’s contemplation of suffering reaches its deepest levels only in relation to God.
The presence of evil and human suffering in the world and with God has always created some confusion in the minds of men. He argues that the sufferings of Christ, his rejection and crucifixion on the cross, serve as a response to the theological problem of human suffering.
Human suffering is a real problem when seen from the point of view of an all-powerful and entirely good provident God. Because it is only in relation to God that man’s reflection over suffering reaches its utmost depths, Metz argues. Does he ask what the cross means for us?
And what does the cross mean for Christ? Not only in its significance as one of the most important questions of human reason but also in its centrality to the issues of fundamental rational discursive engagement.
The prevalence of evil and human suffering in the world has always caused some consternation in men’s thoughts, particularly among Christians. Metz contends that Christ’s sufferings, his rejection and crucifixion on the cross, serve as an answer to theological problems with human suffering. Because it is only in relation to God that man’s contemplation on suffering achieves its apex.
According to Hume’s concept of God, there is a belief in the presence of a divine being (God) who is omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, and good, and who is considered the source of all existence. But we are confronted with the threat of evil; we are confronted with misery on the same planet. Maduka made a reference to David Hume, a radical British empiricist, in his work The Paradox of Evil. “……Certainly, an all-knowing God should know that evil occurs, and an all-powerful God would prevent its occurrence,” wrote Hume. Is God, on the other hand, willing but unable to avert evil? Then he is powerless. Is he capable but unwilling? Then he’s a tyrant. So where does evil come from?” (Maduka, 2007:1)
Indeed, the existence of God in the midst of evil and human suffering is logically irreconcilable, according to Hume. Since the beginning of history, the most pressing concerns for Christians and non-Christians alike have been evil and human suffering in the world. This compelling reality of evil and suffering raises serious concerns and calls into doubt the Christian faith in the present world. It becomes a theological matter at this point, no longer a purely intellectual subject, but a reality that confronts us with the idea of an All-good, Omnipotent Creator-God and a World of enormous anguish, agony, and misery. As a result, the agony of an innocent person becomes incomprehensible, making it hard for individuals to contemplate the reality of evil for long periods of time.
Modern philosophy has a limited understanding of the questions of pain and evil. Hick: Is it possible to reconcile the presence of evil in the universe with the existence of a God who is infinite in both kindness and power? This is what theodicy is all about: reconciliation. Theological and philosophical ideas have had a significant impact on modern thought.
This leads us back to John Baptist Metz’s concept of suffering for God. Metz made a serious attempt to alert Christians in his political theology of “suffering unto God” by providing a response that is so helpful to the possibility of arriving at new understandings of evil and human suffering, in order to identify precisely what happens when humanity is faced with this type of condition.
“He attempted to pull us deeper into God’s mystery of the cross via our own suffering,” says St. John of the Cross. His theology allows us to cling to God while yet confronting him in our mourning. Our suffering in the world is a resurrection of hope that provides us with genuine confidence in God.
Thus, under Metz’s concept of suffering unto God, he contended that Auschwitz’s theology renders all non-contextual discussions about God meaningless and blind. He contended that God cannot stand by and watch his creatures suffer under the crushing weight of wickedness or disaster. John Baptist Metz’s work was predicated on the question of whether such a theology could be successfully accepted, bringing with it the disaster of suffering mankind and the wonderful Creator God. He went on to explain that the fundamental question to be solved in relation to this vexing dilemma is the faith of people who suffer unfairly.
The difficulty, according to Metz, is not how to defend God in the face of evil, human suffering, and cruelty, but how to explain or speak of God in a world of pain. According to him, the question of God imposed itself on him, not in its existential but, to some part, in its political form. Metz believes that the fundamental topic to be addressed here is the faith or salvation of individuals who have suffered unjustly. But how can one explain or talk of God in a world full of suffering?
Thus, in commenting on this God who suffers for his creation, Moltmann correctly stated that “it is precisely this ability to speak about the experiences of suffering encountered by God in Jesus’ crucifixion that constitutes the relevance and validity of the Christian Church’s message to a suffering world” (Moltmann, 1974:24). Thus, Metz contends that Christ’s sufferings and crucifixion were first and foremost a Trinitarian event in which Christ shared in the world’s miseries.
The paper will be centred on Metz’s concept of “suffering towards God.” Some Christian theologians and philosophers, such as Thomas Aquinas, Augustine of Hippo, and Anselm of Canterbury, provide the greatest classical intellectual justification of God’s existence in modern memory. David Hume was a member of the latter group.
When and how will the anguish end? Is it possible to reconcile the presence of evil in the world with the existence of God? Answers to such concerns are impossible to provide since the problem of evil is more complex to solve. Human grief and suffering are so genuine that it is impossible to detach oneself from the concept of it. Following this claim of evil and human suffering, the question that arises is “when and how will the suffering end?”
“There can be no explanation in the face of fundamental evil and misery,” says Edward Schillebeeckx. The study of the Flemish-Dominican theologian will look at pain in light of Christ’s suffering on the cross.
The purpose of this book is to reconcile the dilemma of evil and human suffering in Johann Baptist Metz’s suffering toward God, which finds significance only in the crucifixion of Christ, God’s incarnate word. It will go a long way toward explaining Metz’s “mysticism of suffering unto god,” which deals with the “mystical-political” existence of a Christ-follower.
The fundamental question now is if Mets’ idea on suffering unto God the pain, suffering, sorrow, and evil that plague humanity, even suffering after Auschwitz, can Christ’s personal suffering serve as an answer to the world’s dilemma of human suffering. This study aims to illustrate the dilemma that these issues are based on to some extent.
This work has been broken into four chapters to fulfil this purpose. The first chapter begins with a brief biographical introduction to Johann Baptist Metz as well as a broad discussion on evil and human suffering. Metz’s suffering for God will be the subject of the second chapter. The third chapter will look into free will and human liberty. Finally, there will be an appraisal and conclusion.
THE MEANING OF EVIL
We can see from the foregoing definition of evil that its existence is diametrically opposite to good. It is wicked, diabolical, and hostile in and of itself. It is the inverse of good. “We may therefore argue that evil is opposed to good, which is the integrity of being or perfection of being in its full order—material, moral, or spiritual,” Nwabekee emphasizes. ” Evil, we can occasionally concretize into a topic that is the afflicted subject” (Nwabekee, 1993:12). Furthermore, according to Hospers, the conventional definition of evil is “… a lack, a privation, and a negativity.” There is no evil, only a relative lack of good. As a result, evil is nothing more than a non-being……” Hospers (1978:462) Plotinus inspired the definition, which has impacted later Christian thinkers even to this day.
Evil has been a thorn in the flesh of humanity since time immemorial, a reality that no human being can deny. It’s an issue that affects every aspect of life, and some people even wonder, “What was the source of negative things (evils) in the world?” Why did God allow evil to exist in the world at all? People go to sleep and never wake up, people go to church to pray and never return, people, harass and kill their fellow beings, people poison their fellow beings, people use their fellow beings for rituals, people falsely accuse their fellow beings; bribery and corruption are everywhere. Greed, adultery, child abuse, drug addiction, and other vices are the norm.
The purpose of this article is to reconcile the dilemma of evil and human suffering in Johann Baptist Metz’s suffering toward God, which finds significance only in the crucifixion of Christ, God’s incarnate word. It will go a long way toward explaining Metz’s “mysticism of suffering upon God,” which deals with the “mystical-political” existence of a Christ-follower. The existence of evil and tragic happenings is indispensable in human life for every created person. It is evident that serious philosophical-theological reflections on the issue of evil/suffering have always taken the word “evil” to mean different things. “An old-fashioned Snyder: Leibniz, a German philosopher, stated in a statement on the existence of evil in the universe that if the world were to lack the least evil, it would no longer be this world. “The usage of these words has a venerable history; throughout history, discussions of the theoretical issue of evil have used the word “evil” in this sense,” Snyder says.
One of Augustine of Hippo’s great challenges in his theological and intellectual life was the concept of evil. His understanding of evil is essential in the question of the origins of evil. Augustine’s early encounter with evil was discussed in the Confessions. Augustine saw devastation and suffering in the material world as suitable given the natures of the beings involved and as part of the overall fair and beautiful order. He believes that “genuine evil” must exist in the spiritual realm. Augustine defined evil as a perversion of the good in his explanation of it.
Evil As Privation
The concept of evil as a privation dates back to Plotinus, but it reaches its pinnacle in Augustine. For St. Augustine, evil is not a substance; it is a flaw in the corporeal substance, which is excellent as a substance. This view of evil as privation was advocated by Thomas Aquinas. As a result, evil is the absence of a matching good. We called it corruption. Because it deprives a being of what it should have. According to the biblical creation story, God created everything and saw that everything was good (Gen. 1:31). We can claim that everything God created is good, and the manifestation of evil comes only when innately good beings become corrupted.
Aesthetic Conception of Evil
Arthur Love Joy refers to the idea of plenitude as the aesthetic perception of evil from Augustine’s perspective. According to this idea, a universe with diverse potentialities of beings and different sorts of things, both little and large, is a better world than one with just the greatest forms of creatures. We recognize the beauty that belongs to things because they constitute a whole or are a component of a total in this aesthetic perspective.
St. Augustine also conceived of evil from an artistic standpoint, which he received from Plotinus as well. According to this viewpoint, as described by Nwabekee, what appears to be evil in a restricted context, as an essential element in a world when viewed worldwide, is beneficial (Nwabekee,1993:22). According to God, the cosmos is good and so devoid of evil. As a result, we may argue that there is no such thing as evil in God’s entire creation.
Manichean Conception of Evil
The Manicheans believe in a final duality of good and evil, spirit and matter. As a consequence, they found two realms, namely, the kingdoms of good and the kingdoms of evil. Light, or spirit, and darkness, or substance, represent the affirmation of good and wrong. The joy and anguish of suffering experienced in the world are explained by this dualistic notion. Two conclusions can be drawn from their instruction. For starters, wickedness is an inherent state of human beings as a result of their creator. As a result, it is not the result of Adam’s sin. Second, the Manichean God neither created nor governs the powers of darkness.
Why did the Manicheans propose the notion of good and evil having equal authority as universe governors? “Before the calamitous blending, there was a radical dualism of two natures or substances or sources, on the one hand, light, and on the other, darkness, which is evil or matters, yet each of the two principles is of equal justice,” Petit says. “Each has equal worth and authority.” Petit (1962:2). Some prominent intellectuals strongly opposed the Manichean philosophy, arguing that evil, like virtue, has an autonomous existence. Plotinus, a Neo-Platonist, and Augustine of Hippo were among those who criticized Manichaeism.
“Suffering” is defined as “physical or mental agony accompanied by feelings of anguish and misery” by the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary. Human sorrow and evil are shades of the same thing. Suffering has been expressed in numerous specific expressions in the biblical perspective: “to experience affliction” (1 Thes.3:4).
- A. Natural Suffering: When suffering is described as “natural,” it signifies that it was not created or caused by humans. It simply refers to the suffering individuals endure as a result of natural calamities. Earthquakes, diseases, floods, storms, and other natural disasters are examples of such misery. These types of suffering cause widespread devastation, resulting in massive losses in both lives and material assets.
- B. Moral Suffering: This type of suffering may be defined as an intentional and conscious type of evil inflicted by humans upon themselves. Journal of African Theology, 2007, p.105. According to Egbuogu, this form of pain is concerned with those that are caused by human actions (Egbuogu, 2006:54). An example of this is when a person murders a buddy in rage and subsequently regrets it. This is visible in persons who have a strong moral compass. Moral sufferings stem from man’s inhumanity to man. It encompasses all forms of injustice, including war, murder, oppression, and oppression.
- C. Physical Suffering: This is a type of pain that occurs in the human body. It is defined as “a deficit of the body or a portion of it.” In certain circumstances, it is the lack of a physical component or function that should be there but is not.” (Iroegbu,2004:38). This form of pain is induced by both human and non-human factors. This includes illness, disability, and any type of defect in the body.
BIBLICAL PERCEPTION OF HUMAN SUFFERING
In this section, we will emphasize only two biblical perspectives on the topic of suffering. The Bible’s Old Testament. The primary idea behind pain in the Old Testament was that it was God’s retribution for sin. “An early Hebrew viewpoint saw pain as God’s retribution for sin, which has harmed humans since its inception (Gen16-19). A spirit of national unity influences the authors’ interpretation of pain as divine retribution for both personal and social faults (Num12, 1-15).” (Fatula,1987:991).
In the book of Job, the early thought that perceived suffering as a kind of divine punishment was questioned. Job, an upright, spotless, God-fearing lady who shunned the devil, endured excruciating pain. This episode signalled the beginning of comprehension regarding the nature of pain. The Prophet Ezekiel expressed a similar point of view. Suffering, according to the Prophet, is not necessary retribution for sin. However, where suffering has any link within, he suggested the theology of individual retribution; suffering is punishment exclusively for one’s own particular crimes (Ezekiel 31:29-30), not a collective problem. This notion was repeated several times throughout Proverbs, various Psalms, and, subsequently, Sirach. Journal of Theology, 2007, p. 106.
The New Testament is fundamentally Christological, and the significance of suffering centres around Christ. Even to the point of viewing human sorrow as a method of joining in Christ’s sufferings, which will lead to victory at the end of our earthly lives. More specifically, Christian suffering is viewed as a source of grace for the entire God’s people.
The existence of evil and suffering in the world is an existential fact that no man can deny. The analysis we have done so far by attempting to divine evil and suffering, defining its essence, and providing various philosophical and religious perspectives on the issues would go a long way toward helping us better comprehend these issues.
As previously said, despite the justification and explanation of evil and human suffering in the world, it is nevertheless hard to justify due to its gratuitous character and pervasiveness. “The gratuitous essence of evil is its suffering of the innocent, particularly children, while the pervasive form of evil is demonstrated by its vastness, which sometimes makes it hard to conceive.” 195 (Egbuogu, 2006).
On 17 June 2012, a terrorist gang bombed three Christian churches in northern Nigeria, killing at least 20 people and injuring 80. This massacre of innocent men and women as a (gratuitous character of evil) and thousands of people dying as a result of an earthquake (a pervasive form of evil) cannot be fully excused and explained. Nothing can be claimed to fully justify the presence of evil in this sense. As a result, we might conclude that the notion of evil requires greater clarity if it is to be proven in the world.
METZ, SUFFERING UNTO GOD
According to Christian theodicy critic Robert Metz, Auschwitz is a true example of innocent people’s suffering. Metz: The Auschwitz event has captured the attention of most Christian theodicies. For Metz, the most essential issue is to confront the mystery of human suffering with Christ’s sorrows, rather than to stress the clear tragedy in Auschwitz.
Metz has tamed the mystery of God as the only response to human misery. Second, what is the right function of a human being in the reduction of human suffering around the world? According to Johann Metz, “the question concerning God thrust itself upon him not in his existential form, but to some extent in his political one.” The topic that is inherent in this debate about God is, first and foremost, the question of the salvation of people who suffer unjustly” (Metz 1994:612).
Moltmann is perhaps the most vivid exponent of “God’s suffering” Egbuogu: Following Met as a theodicy framework, Moltmann proposes that God’s suffering is the only explanation one can make when asked about God in the midst of suffering. To talk of an absolute God here would reduce God to annihilating emptiness.
As a result of God’s qualities in human thought, evil and human suffering have been a major concern throughout history. Man’s meditation on human suffering can only be comprehended in relation to Christ’s suffering and the reward that results from it. This is where the importance of this chapter comes into play. Thus, in this second chapter, we will examine Metz’s reaction to the suffering at Auschwitz as well as Augustine’s concept of evil. And his argument for the mysticism of suffering for the sake of God.
Auschwitz was one of the most renowned World War II concentration camps. It first opened in Poland in 1940. It was envisioned as a location for one of the numerous concentration camps established by the Nazis during World War II. Innocent people were imprisoned in large numbers. They were hungry, they were mistreated, and they had to work too hard. A large number of Jews were transported there alone to be executed. This was unmistakably a concentration camp. There were numerous prisoners in Auschwitz, and most of them perished from starvation.
Can we continue to talk about God and humans as if the claimed purity of our human words does not need to be re-examined in the aftermath of such a disaster? John Baptist Metz: Metz was worried about the perplexing position that theology has placed us in relation to the history of human suffering in general. Metz began his theology of suffering unto God by claiming that Auschwitz’s theology renders any non-contextual statement about Creator God meaningless and blind.
Theologian of Christianity Christian Metz grew concerned with how there can be any discourse of God at all in light of the awful history of global suffering, “his” world. Metz distinguished between theology and mythology, stating that the solutions in theology do not provide a solution to the issue, but rather a quest for knowledge about God. This, according to him, is the central issue in theology.
Egbuogu has to highlight in his work “Eschatological Hope as Christian Theodicy” that it may be read in Moltmaan’s beliefs that God’s identification with a man in his suffering is a cause for a serious call on man to join in others’ sufferings and to strive against the same. In that greatest declaration in support of Wiesel’s response to the question of the presence of God in connection to Auschwitz. Egbuogu went on to claim that Moltmann’s speech would sentence men to indifference if God was indifferent. 184 (Egbuogu, 2006).
According to Christian theologian Marcel Sarot, using Auschwitz as a metaphor for both severe and innocent suffering obscures the truth that those held in Auschwitz endured both cruelly and innocently. The focus should be on the victims’ identities, particularly Jews, and on our collective culpability as Christians.
The incidence of pain and death at Auschwitz in Poland in 1940 is a notable event. According to reports, even His Holiness Pope Francis was permitted to go along past the iconic wrought-iron gate at Auschwitz-Birkenau during his visit to Poland for World Youth Day. The Pope prayed in silent contemplation. Have mercy on your people, Lord. Lord, please pardon such harshness.
Keeping Metz’s concept of eschatological hope for those who have suffered in mind, it is vital to notice that Motmaan places Jesus’ suffering and death within a soteriological framework. He contends that God’s suffering alleviates ours by using the premise that wounds are perceived as healed my wounds, which is drawn from the suffering servant song (Is 53:4-5). (Ibid., 1978:25)
According to Metz, for the first time in religious history, the confession to mankind is made: “Hear, O Israel, your God is one.” According to the Bible, Israel is a landscape of theodicy. Despite the rich culture of the people surrounding her, she remained a “landscape of cries” for early Christians, which has now been Christologically heightened. The issue therefore becomes, is it the Christian message itself or the theological component of it that has silenced God’s eschatological questioning?
AUGUSTINE AND HIS LEGACY
Metz considers Augustine and his legacy to be a turning point in the history of theology and Christianity when contemplating the subject of theodicy. The theological conundrum of how the suffering innocents of the world may be reconciled with the omnipotent and benevolent creator deity; and why, once again, is Parousia delayed? Augustine proposed the Gnostic axiom of timelessness (Zeitlosigheit) of redemption and time’s inability to redeem itself (Heillosigheit). He attempted to drive a gap between the Old Testament’s creator God tradition and the New Testament’s redemption theology. (Metz 1994, p.616)
Throughout Augustine’s life, the subject of evil has been a primary source of concern. He sought to demonstrate that, according to Egbuogu, “God was good and created only nice things.” Metz cited Adolf Von Harnack, who stated that Augustine lived and taught in a church “set up in opposition to Marcion.” As a result, the creator God is excluded from the theodicy debate.
- (1.) As a result of his interest in Paul’s letter to the Romans, he attempted to establish the doctrines of original sin and predestination. The aporias in Augustine’s theodicy appear here. (Metz 1994, p.617) The author highlights a few of them here:
- (2.) It is difficult to refute Hans Blumenberg’s suspicion that the division between God the creator and the God the redeemer reappears in Augustine as an anthropological dualism.
- (3.) Augustine’s idea of God not coming into this question conflicts with the principles of the theological doctrine of freedom and this makes sinful freedom in this context sound more like a feeble apologetic distinction.
- (4.) In Augustine the eschatological question is silenced. Augustine sees salvation as exclusively redemptive whereas the Bible traditions present salvation as not only of that of redemption and guilt but also the deliverance of humanity from situations of suffering. (Metz 1994:617).
The silence of eschatological concerns Metz may bring out two repercussions of theology: (1) theology exonerates God in the face of the history of suffering man and blames the guilty humanity for the reason of its suffering, creating the impression that it is reconciling itself with God while neglecting the suffering humanity. As a result, afflicted humanity revolted against theologians’ God. This might explain why the theodicy dilemma lies at the heart of modern atheism.
(2) This Augustine ideology could equally lead to an over-exaggeration of the idea of guilt – and absolution of sin in Christianity; and this may bring about a reaction to ecclesial preaching that seem entirely moralistic, having no knowledge of the eschatological question of God. (Metz, 1994:618)
“The Augustinian conception is probably only understandable as a conception in opposition to Manichaeism and Gnosis. It is not God, but rather humanity alone, which has become sinful and bears the burden of responsibility for a creation torn by suffering. Augustine’s emphatic theory of freedom stems from an apologetic intention: an apology for the creator God. It is remarkable to understand that this apology persuades him to embrace autonomous human freedom, independent of God, of the kind with which we are actually accustomed, except that we face this autonomous freedom in secularized modernity.” Sage Journals, 1992, p. 279.
SUFFERING IN GOD
Among those who have contributed to this work are Karl Barth, Eberhard Jungel, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer. God’s Suffering, according to Jurgenmoltmann Isn’t a quasi-mythical universalization of pain a weight on God and humanity? For him, Hegelian idealism is too strong, and sorrow is reduced to the concept of pain.
He did not feel that Christology could compel or even justify theology that talks of a suffering God. Along with Karl Rahner, he supports his case, and I would vehemently oppose any ideology that understands the filial consciousness of the man Jesus of Nazareth in relation to his Divine Father in the same way that utterances about the Eternal Son born inside the Trinity are understood (Rahner, 1978:249).
Metz agreed with John that the theology of the creator God could not avoid the charge of apathy until it adopted the language of God who suffers from His afflicted creation. The crucial issue is that all Biblical traditions of God’s self-definition to that of God as love have a promise mark, a mark that provides theology speaking of God of creation in the form of negative theology. He believes that a theodicy theology rejects the abstract conflict between eschatology and ontology. (Metz, 1994, p. 620)
THE MYSTICISM OF SUFFERING UNTO GOD.
Metz began by stating that this language of God’s mysticism does not give a soothing answer to human suffering, but rather a passionate requisitioning of God with lofty expectations. So, Jesus God’s mysticism is founded on the beatitude’s poverty of spirit. “Jesus maintains God’s divinity; in the forsakenness of the crucifixion, he proclaims a God who remains other than and different from the echo of human aspirations.” John Baptist Metz questions if this form of mysticism might provide comfort. What about the Biblical God, whose will is to offer comfort? Many thoughts arose in his head, such as if Israel was content with his father. And so forth (Metz, 1994:621).
Metz, in his political philosophy, attempted to address some fundamental questions about God and religion in the midst of the mystery of suffering. Whether Jesus was content with God throughout his crucifixion. Whether religion can still make us joyful and bring comfort in the face of adversity. He went on to add that Biblical consolation does not guarantee us a sense of peace and harmony. He considers religious critics ranging from Feuerbach to Freud to be mistaken for Christians. Mysticism sprang from spiritual poverty as a source of solace, and as such, it can never be comprehended without the mystical anxiety of suffering (Metz 1994:621).
Metz concluded his article on the mysticism of suffering God by basing his foundational Biblical experience of God on the poverty of the spirit of Jesus’ first beatitude; and has it as a mysticism of suffering unto God, which showcased itself in the Israelites’ prayers – the psalms, Job, lamentations, and so on.
The Christian perspective interprets Jesus’ suffering as a comfort for one’s own suffering. A Christian’s attitude toward suffering is essentially hopeful. Eckhart regards pain as something that should offer joy by associating our suffering to God, who suffers alongside us. Seeing God as a co-sufferer, but also as our suffering become divine.
Metz advocated for a “mysticism of suffering towards God” in his work. In this mysticism, we cry out to God in our pain and expect an answer from him. We endeavour to erase misery and heal the wounds of people who are suffering as part of our own obligation.
FREEWILL AND HUMAN FREEDOM
Man is free by nature; the fact is that man is not static but dynamic, and his motions and actions are not governed by external agents like a piece of wood. His actions are the outcome of his decisions. As a result, a man works or studies because he wants to work or learn. He goes anywhere he wants because he wants to. Man’s will distinguished him from lesser creatures and machines, according to Rearden, since “nothing demonstrates freedom so plainly as arbitrary decisions, nothing indicates so much as a conscious choice, nothing shows dependency so much as assent” (Rearden, Op. Cit.,1976:49).
As a result of freedom, man has the power to select among alternatives rather than following a predetermined course of action. The intellect has the ultimate authority or sovereign control over the will to decide what action to do. Streller emphasizes this concept when he states, “To be free means not to achieve what has been willed, but to choose to will through oneself.” The failure of a planned action has nothing to do with freedom. “Freedom is not the ability to obtain selected choices, but the autonomy of the process of choosing.” (Streller, 1960:32)
As a result, freedom coexists with the dilemma of evil. The fact that man has free choice exposes him to wrongdoing. Scholars have been divided on whether or not man is accountable for moral evil. Based on this nagging difficulty, some believe that man is accountable for moral evil since he is the lone agent in moral affairs. Others believed that because man is determined, he is not accountable for moral wrongdoing. In this chapter, we will investigate the concepts of free will, human freedom, and determinism in man.
THE FREEDOM OF MAN
“Human freedom is not a byproduct of human existence; it precedes and facilitates it,” says Streller. According to Streller, the failure of a planned action has no bearing on freedom itself. As a result of man’s existence, he claims, there is no limit to human freedom.
Rearden believes that man’s freedom is genuine, but not total. The fact that man possesses reason underpins Aquinas’ perspective on human freedom. Man has the ability to choose whether or not to do a specific activity. “Man has free choice,” says Rearden, “or else counsel, exhortations, commandments, restriction rewards, and punishment would be in nought.”
As a libertarian, Rogers believes in human freedom in light of Locke’s notion of freedom. Free volition, as opposed to free action, according to Locke, is an impossibility. Locke’s freedom is not contradictory, and there is a denial that freedom includes volition.
FREEDOM OF THE WILL
The absence of regulating and confining anything is defined as freedom. It is the capacity to commit or omit without being interfered with. It forbids any type of coercion to compel (someone) to do anything. Many philosophers and theologians have debated the existence of the will. Among the reasons advanced by Onwuanibe to prove the presence of the will are:
I. Common consent of Mankind: Here, we presuppose freedom of the will when we ask people such questions as “is it your will to become a priest?” or “please act according to your will?”
ii. Metaphysical Argument: The will obviously is an immaterial faculty and as such free from matter, which is the principle of determinism. The will is considered free because it has no content matter.
iii. Ethical Argument: In our daily living in society, we praise and blame people. People are also punished for their actions. These presuppose freedom of the will (Onwuanibe, unpublished lecture 2005).
Egbuogu refers to Augustine’s concept of free will in his work “Eschatological Hope as Christian Theodicy.” It indicates that human behaviours might be ethically good or terrible, right or wrong. As a result of his will, man becomes transcendent in his deeds and inclination for immaterial good. Augustine emphasizes in “Freewill” that “all evil may be accounted for in terms of the misuse of free will.”
The majority of individuals saw “free will defence” as the most significant answer to the issue of evil. As we have seen, the concept of free will is important to St. Augustine’s theodicy. “For many people, the only limit to man’s freedom is freedom itself,” Sartre said.
The determinist views human freedom differently. However, this is not the case for another school of thinking. Our actions are considered “free” by them if they are preceded by appropriate consideration or if we are prepared to assume responsibility for them afterwards. Others believe that “whatever that is going to be will be.”
According to Lacey: “Fatalism holds that the future is fixed irrespective of our attempt to affect it…A similar view, more discussed than actually held, is logical determinism, which argues that a given future must either occur or not. Whichever happens, the prediction that it would happen would turn out to be correct, and therefore -was correct all along, whether or not we know it”.(Lacey, 1976:71).
This doctrine is so rampant in our society and it challenges the certainty of our common sense about the reality of free choice. We often hear people say do you disturb yourself? everything has already been planned by God. However, this assertion denies man any responsibility for his action. Lehrer, in his opinion, said “…..It does not only imply that a person’s behaviour is determined, but it also implies that the conditions that determined his behaviour were determined”( Lehreh Op. Cit., 1966:200). Thus Lacey again states: “Has determinism said that our action caused in a very way that makes us not free as we might have thought; so that responsibility, if not implies free will, is an illusion…. soft determinists….say that our actions indeed caused, but we are a riot, therefore, a less free than we might be, because the causation is not constraint or compulsion on us” (Lacey 1976:71).
From the above description, we can say that the doctrine of determinism is that whatever happens, happens under conditions such that it was casually impossible for it to happen. But if we say that human beings are determined, how can we reconcile it with the notion of moral evil. The doctrine of determinism said that human beings are constrained in making their choice. Man lacks culpability, which means he does not take responsibility for his action. He is constrained to act in a given way. In this way, we say that “Man’s freedom is real enough but it is not absolute”. (Rearden Op. Cit., 49). It was Jean Jacque Rousseau who espoused this point when he said the man is free but everyone was in chains. And we can say that a question of choice imposes a limit on freedom.
The obvious fact is that one is free to choose when he has alternatives before him. This is a result of his free will, therefore he is capable of choice-making as Sartre testified that man is condemned to be free. Many Philosophers are conscious of this fact. For Aquinas “In the moral order the primary fact is that man possesses freedom. Without freedom Men could not love God, right, just and good”(Stumpf Op. Cit.,196).
Considering the enormity of evil in the world, can we say that man’s free choice is the best answer to the question of suffering and evil in the world. If a man has to act freely as a result of the gift of free will by God. Could God not have created only good things and man has only free choice to choose the good. Mackie will say that “Can God not control the evil will if freedom is really indispensable. Although he recognized the fact that in a contingent world, the right to freedom covers the choice of both good and evil.
He maintained that God who could not control the freedom of free will of his creatures raises the question of what he calls “paradox omnipotence’’, a God who can do what he cannot undo, or handle; we see it as parallel to “paradox sovereign”. Who can make a law and restrict its future legislative powers”(Mackie, Op. cit., 99).
The remark above on the role of God controlling “free will or human freedom”, brings us to the question of logical impossibility. Egbuogu coming in on this matter gave his own response “it is a different thing to talk of God controlling the world he had created and talked of controlling the choices of free beings; giving them free will and controlling their choices is inherently contradictory, and so logically impossible. It is either they are absolutely free to choose or they are not creatures of freedom”(Egbuogu, 2006:145).
The obvious fact is that the whole life of man in this world is essentially a choice between good and bad or evil. Man when faced with a plurality of options, he applies the will and reason in his choice making. But it is quite unfortunate when we look at our daily life, as regards our moral behaviour, we discover that human beings choose evil sometimes instead of good. And at times man’s suffering is in accordance with the cosmic order of the universe.
The reality of evil and human suffering in the world is unarguable. It is an obvious reality that calls into question the existence of God. Suffering has been a component of human life since the beginning of time, according to the Bible. It all started with the Fall of Adam and Eve when God permitted Adam and Eve to suffer physical “pain” as a result of their disobedience. For nourishment, men must “toil” and “sweat.” Women also experience discomfort during delivery. [Genesis 3:16-18] In (Gen. 4: 12), we see that as a result of Cain’s jealousy in killing his brother Abel, God brings him mental suffering. And he was ostracized, eventually deported from his nation.
We have studied the problem’s historicity in relation to God’s qualities, who is a completely good, powerful, and benign God. It is undeniable that wickedness and misery in the world pose a significant problem for the world’s inhabitants. However, we have come to see that God is not the direct source of evil. The presence of evil does not contradict God’s characteristics, because he is still good, flawless, and almighty. God clearly willed the formation of a cosmos in which physical evil is implicated in some way in terms of the natural sequence of events. God created humans and granted free will to them, from which moral evil arose as a misuse of the free will of human beings”(Maduka, 2007:88 ).
Man’s opinions have developed as a result of the terrible presence of evil in the world. Many individuals took use of such a benefit to justify their lack of faith in the omnipotent and omniscient God. In his apostolic letter, “Salvific Doloris,” Pope John Paul II speaks on people’s attitudes in the face of pain, saying, “In every sorrow that man undergoes, he begs the question: why?” According to the Pope, the topic of the meaning of human suffering is “a tough question” that has led to “conflict in man’s ties with God, but it also occurs that some reach the point of outright denying God” (SalvificiDoloris, n.9).
We contend here that God did not create evil and suffering, as the book of Genesis attests. “God saw that it was good and made it” (Gen1,25). But he allows it for a reason. In the Bible, we witness Christ’s reaction to the Pharisees regarding the blind kid. As a result, “as Jesus passed by, he noticed a man who had been blind since birth.” And his followers questioned him, saying, “Rabbi, who sinned, this guy or his parents, that he should be born blind?” “Neither this guy nor his parents have sinned, but that the works of God may be made known in him,” Jesus said (John 9:1-4).
Christ’s compassion to the suffering child in the Bible is the ultimate and final response to the subject of human suffering in the world. Scholars who fail to reach this biblical scripture in their endeavours to explain life and its vicissitudes, to understand the historicity of evil in the world, pain, and death of mankind in connection to the existence of God might be regarded defective. The Christian faith does not provide ideas or technical methods of alleviating pain; rather, it can explain the world’s goodness, kindness, and love. Life is not simply full of evil and misery, but it is also considerably more complicated than that. However, we might conclude that suffering is a part of the core of Christian life (Mt 5:10-12). My Son, if you want to serve the Lord, prepare yourself for an ordeal (Sirach 2: 1).
Pope Francis offers human suffering a salvific meaning in his Apostolic Letter “SalvificiDoloris” (on the Meaning of Human Suffering). God let his only son taste the cup of adversity. In Christ, Jesus addressed the issue of suffering at its source. One may argue that if the pain is bad, God would not have let his son be identified with evil.
Immanuel Kant states in his Critique of Pure Reason: “What can I know?” What should I do? and what can I hope for? (Kant, 1934, p. 457) According to theologian Johann Metz, human pain is a riddle of human existence. He contends that we should see suffering in terms of the value it provides and the human effort involved in removing this pain and suffering.
The struggle with Auschwitz lies at the heart of Metz’s political theological work. The Auschwitz breach poses profound concerns about Christian obligation to Jews as well as questions about God. In his book, Metz quotes Romano Guardini: “Why, God, the terrible detour on the route to Heaven, the anguish of the innocent, why sin?” After Auschwitz, the task of theodicy is to question. Metz continues to criticize theodicy-as-explanation and strives to reduce suffering to an inner-Trinitarian process, suffering in God. Auschwitz leaves a biblical and eschatological mysticism in the form of “suffering unto God.”
Suffering and evil, according to Metz Mcdermott, have been a permanent feature of human history. The emphasis is not on explaining why someone is suffering or identifying the source of misery. Our goal as Christians is to work as individuals and as a community to restore genuine hope and love to the world. However, in response to the oppressed’s suffering, Jesus said,
Metz responds to the third question on what we might hope for in a world filled with sorrow and evil. That Christ, by His suffering on the cross, was able to defeat evil and suffering. His anguish, which culminates in his death, serves as a redeeming source of human suffering throughout the world. “For Christians, human pain and Jesus’ suffering are inextricably linked, with the latter bringing meaning to the former.” As a result of Jesus’ redeeming deed, what might otherwise be meaningless has worth and depth. Suffering was a Christian’s fate, according to him” (Wolfinger, op. cit. p.35).
Because of the soteriological nature of eschatology, Christ’s association with creation affirmed that reality, and man, in a specific sense, cannot be a lost cause. Christians’ future (eschatological) hope promises us that, while not everything can be described in human words, the end of history, in Christ, will validate God’s design. In this way, people should not give up hope, but rather have confidence in God, as Saint Paul would urge. The job was a significant reference point for individuals seeking to comprehend the meaning of suffering. Ashley: Denying God’s existence will not alleviate the problem of evil and misery. He claims that looking at the dead is the ultimate comfort at such a time.
It is important to stress, however, that the purpose of this book is not to address the issue of why there is evil and human suffering in the world. However, it is an attempt to see the answer to evil and suffering through the eyes of Baptist Johann Metz, which will go a long way toward bringing comfort to all who are suffering in the world. One of the benefits of our consideration of Johann Baptist Metz is that he addresses Christians when their faith appears to be shaken by historical social and political disasters.
Metz’s theology was excellent news for all Christians in the present world, according to Baukham. His theological stance is that we cannot speak of evil and suffering in the last world until the full manifestation of God’s reign has occurred. He says that there is no way to achieve virtue without going through hardship. The Christian religion should consider the victims of sufferers and work to find a solution for them. These are, according to him, “the concept of divine promise; the understanding of Jesus’ resurrection as a promise; and the view of history as mission” (Bauckham, 2000: xiii).
The research we have done thus far demonstrates that Metz’s idea of suffering unto God may give a model approach to the challenge of coping with evil and suffering even after Auschwitz and that the eschatological recompense of Christ’s suffering is a direct response to humanity’s suffering.
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