The Parousia and Theodicy

Jesus promised to return, but we are still waiting.

The problem associated with Jesus’ delayed parousia, as I see it, is the problem of theodicy – the defense of God’s goodness and justice.

The secular world asks, “If there is a god, why does he allow evil?” Why do bad things happen, even to God’s people?

I don’t know about you, but I can deal with that one. The world is jacked up, or to use a theological word, “fallen.” It’s not yet what God intends it to be. Human sin and intractable evil are a large part of the problem. The power of death and decay still reign in this age. “In this world, you will have troubles,” Jesus said.

In the gospel story, we see that the Son of God came into the world to suffer with us and for us. He submitted himself to a miserable death and his crucifixion now provides the lens through which I see all of reality. Mine is a theology of the cross; evil and suffering don’t surprise me.

No, I don’t think the most important question for orthodox Christians who confess the Nicene and Apostles’ creeds is, “Why is there so much suffering in the world.” The burning question, at least in my mind, is “why is there STILL so much suffering in the world?” If Jesus is coming back to make all things new, why hasn’t he done so already?

Just so you know, I’m not even going to attempt to answer that question.