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Aurica Nutt

After the tsunami on the day after Christmas 2004 representatives of different religious claimed this natural disaster to be a punishment by God. From a Catholic and feminist point of view, this essay explains this phenomenon by the traditional concept of classical theism. This concept is seriously undermined by radical suffering. The article introduces the American theologian Elizabeth A. Johnson as an attempt to imagine the suffering God who is mysteriously present in absence—not as providing a solution to the problem of God and evil but as a more appropriate response, encouraging not only practical consequences but also the hope for the resurrection of the dead. Johnson’s thinking is discussed in conjunction with the awareness of the limits of theoretical reflection.

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Conrad Wethmar

The aim of this paper is to give an account of the interaction between Christianity and African Traditional Religion found in African Christian theology. The comparison is made with special reference to the respective conceptualizations of evil present in each of these traditions. The paper commences with a brief survey of the manner in which the notion of evil features in the Christian Scriptures and tradition. A brief outline of the African world and life view is then presented in order to provide the back-drop against which an analysis of the notion of evil in African Traditional Religion can be attempted. This analysis is mainly made with reference to recent research on witchcraft and spirit beliefs and is followed by a portrayal of the interaction between the traditional Christian views of evil and those found in African Traditional Religion. This interaction exhibits the twofold structure of rejection on the one hand and accommodation on the other.

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Sodo Yasunaga

The concept of “evil” is difficult to define, varying as it does according to historical, cultural, social, and religious context. The present article, after reviewing the understanding of evil in Indian Buddhism, examines how the concept came to be viewed in Chinese Buddhism. First it considers the treatment of evil in the treatise Yuanren lun by the Zen and Huayen master Guifeng Zongmi (780–841), then assesses how attitudes developed as Zen evolved into a thoroughly Chinese expression of Mahayana Buddhism. Finally, citing evidence from the writings of the Song dynasty Zen master Wuzu Fayan (1024?–1104), it suggests that Zen employed the East Asian sense of “shame” as a practical means of implementing the Buddhist ethical directive to “cease evil, cultivate good.”

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Saeid Edalatnejad

This paper evaluates the problem of evil from Islamic point of view in three areas: ordinary people, theologians and theosophists. The reader will see how Muslims in some areas deal with the problem of evil without paying any attention to arguments and solutions that been presented by theologians and philosophers. On the other hand, Islamic theologians have, throughout the history of theology, offered some classical arguments. This paper discusses them briefly and critically. The conclusion is that in current Islamic theology we cannot see any new creative thinking and thus the problem of evil still remains obscure. Finally, the paper introduces the answer to the problem made by a new philosophical movement in the Shi’ite tradition, consisting of thinkers called theosophists.

Series:

N. Verbin

This paper proposes forgiveness—human forgiveness for divine abuse—as a religious response to the suffering of the innocent. It is divided into three sections. The first section examines the logical space within which forgiveness is possible. It shows that forgiveness presupposes the possibility of a meaningful relationship between valuable moral agents who have certain fundamental rights and who may seriously compromise each other’s happiness. The second section discusses the nature of forgiveness, arguing that forgiveness is distinguished from reconciliation and has to do primarily with the overcoming of one’s resentment of one’s assailant, which does not require the assailant’s repentance or a more favorable view of one’s assailant. The third section discusses Job’s relationship with God as an instance of a victim-assailant relationship and shows that, while Job transcended his resentment toward God and forgave God for the unjust suffering that He had inflicted on him, he was not willing to be reconciled with Him. Forgiveness, even in cases lacking divine response, is thus presented as a viable option for the abused believer for sustaining a minimal relationship with God.

Series:

Marisa Strizzi

The biblical Christian call to overcome evil with good seems to be at the foundation of the achievements of the last centuries of Western culture. It appears paradoxical that, at the same time, the problem of evil, in spite of its gruesome persistence, has been neglected in Western formal thought. This article argues that the discourse of ethics provides for a way of coping with evil that not only produces the paradoxical result referred to above but favors some of the expressions of evil that torment our present, such as religious fundamentalisms and social discrimination and exclusion. Reading about the deconstruction of ethics as portrayed in the work of John D. Caputo and reflecting on his contribution to a poetics of obligation is suggested as a new perspective for perceiving the matter. It is evil suffered by others that is focus here of the problem of evil. Obligation, a disquieting inhabitant of ethics, is regarded as a call to responsibility towards victims—which in most cases are victims of the evil we produce. Caputo’s motiefs of the “jewgreek,” the “wholly other,” “disaster,” and “the flesh” are examined in order to illuminate our way.