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Should all animals kept for human consumption be freed for their own sake and happiness? Or can their killing for meat and consumption be a “priestly act” through God’s permission, as Karl Barth puts it.
This week we will cover the first half of the final chapter of Christopher Southgate’s “The Groaning of Creation.”
Please answer one of the following questions:
Above is a reading from a scene between Ivan (a skeptic) and his religious brother Alyosha from Fydor Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov regarding the difficulty of believing in a loving God in the face of the abuse and suffering of innocent children.
Though Southgate’s book focuses primarily on the suffering of animals, he uses the illustration above in this chapter to convey his thesis that “[T]he crux of the problem is not the overall system and its overall goodness but the Christian’s struggle with the challenge to the goodness of God posed by specific cases of innocent suffering.”
We completed our first session of our new book last Sunday.
One of the takeaways of the session was the discovery that when dealing with issues in theodicy, it wasn’t necessarily that we had a problem with the horror of suffering, death, and randomness in the world, but rather the real issue was that we had an issue with God – namely the goodness with God that we were having a hard time with.
You can read our essays here.
The youtube clip above gives us an interesting overview of the moral issues we have over animals. Why is it that we have no qualms eating a cow, but we are repulsed by the idea of eating a pet cat? They are both animals right? Why is one right and the other wrong? Answer seems simple and obvious, but it’s interesting to think about at another level.
Before we delve into Confessions, we will start exploring the development of Augustine’s philosophy and theology.
For a while, Augustine had been influenced by Manichaeism, a Persian adaptation of Christianity, which added in Zoroastrianism, speculative philosophy and superstition. Augustine was a Manichee for nine years. Then during a trip to Rome in 383, due to his education in the liberal arts, he began to question Manichaeism when he saw that its understanding of the universe owed more to astrology than astronomy.
The next year, he met the formidable figure of Ambrose, bishop of Milan. His great intellect and fiery sermons left a deep impression on Augustine. In Ambrose, Augustine found someone who could communicate at his own intellectual level, further confirming his rejection of the Manichees and opening the way for his return to the Christian faith.
I know that I stated that we’d be doing Augustine’s Confessions later on this month, but I’ve decided to hold off a bit longer to see if we can recruit some more people into the group, so we will not begin until June.
In the meantime, we will spend the rest of the month getting to know Augustine and the world he lived in better.
The video above gives an overview of Augustine’s philosophy and the world he lived in, which is vital to understand what and why he wrote. Although much of the video focuses on his monumental The City of God, we still get a good general overall sense of his beliefs, especially his political philosophy, and why he is still relevant today.
Well, we’ve come to the end after two years of reading “Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years” and we share our final thoughts here.
Howard and Chris share what they have learned and gained from reading this book; Michael writes about the historical development of how Greek pagan philosophy seeped into Western theology and how it has affected our contemporary reading of the Bible; I share my thoughts on divine intervention (or non-intervention more specifically) and history or my attempt to understand God’s role in history after having read this book.
We hope and pray that we will use the knowledge gained from this session wisely. I believe that this is just the beginning of our journey into learning more about the history of the Church.
I was saddened to hear of the passing of one of the greatest theologians of the 20th century, Wolfhart Pannenberg, last Friday on September 5.
On and off, I’ve been reading his magnum opus, Systematic Theology vols. 1 – 3, along with his Jesus – God and Man, Metaphysics and the Idea of God, and Theology and the Philosophy of Science.
I’m also currently reading a book about his theology edited by one of his students, Philip Clayton, titled “The Theology of Wolfhart Pannenberg: Twelve American Critiques, with an Autobiographical Essay and Response“.
You can read Clayton’s obituary of Pannenberg here.
Prof. Pannenberg will be missed.
More about Prof. Pannenberg:
This HBO documentary takes a look into the beliefs of creationists and biblical literalists to understand why they so vehemently oppose evolution and Darwinism. That’s one half of the documentary.
The other half looks into the life and beliefs of Charles Darwin, and how so often he is misunderstood.
I would’ve liked if they could have interviewed Christians who embraced evolution or had no problems believing in the comparability of evolution (by natural selection) and Christianity, but they may be in the minority or not as vocal as creationists and evolutionary atheists.
This is a huge topic within American culture, society, and religion that gets really heated at times.