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Episode Info:

“I want to encourage Christians to stop trying to explain away evil and take people to the cross. And that is the strangeness of the Christian story. If someone has been abused, you don’t say, 'This is why it happened' or 'Look how you’re going to grow through this.' In their pain ... they ask you, 'Why would God do this? What does God think about this?' Your only answer is, 'Let me take you to a bleeding and dying savior.'”

Kelly M. Kapic is Professor of Theological Studies at Covenant College in Lookout Mountain, Georgia. But, perhaps more central to this conversation, he is a human living through both the pains and the joys of being on this earth. That is what we talk about here, guided by Kelly’s newest book, Embodied Hope: A Theological Meditation on Pain and Suffering. In this episode, Kelly reflects on the linkage between theology and biography, the need for lament, the finitude and goodness of the human body, and the meaning of hope in the context of pain and suffering.

Show Notes

  • 3:48—On theology and biography.
  • 6:52—On pain, the goodness of human bodies, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and dependency.
  • 7:15—“Pain itself tends to make us more aware of our bodies. One of the challenges for people who suffer though is then to start to hate your body, to think that your body is the problem.”
  • 8:21—“We confuse dependency with sin all the time. And the way I would put it is we confuse finitude and sin all the time.”
  • 9:10—“The heart of western culture in the last several hundred years where we’ve bought into this myth of rugged individualism and the autonomous self. I make myself. I am myself. No one should tell me. That just doesn’t fit with reality, of how we live. And all that happens in suffering is it makes us much more aware of that if we’re paying attention.”
  • 10:31—On lament and the danger of justifying evil.
  • 12:45—On the problem with theodicies, the sovereignty of God, and the meeting of pain and hope at the Cross.
  • 13:25—“People often think that when their friend is suffering that they need to explain why this is happening. And I would basically say I think theodicies have a place in the classroom. It’s a legitimate philosophical discussion. Has no place in the home of the griever.”
  • 16:53—“The cross and resurrection allow radical honesty about our pain while also maintaining hope. What happens is we tend to choose hope and then eliminate the honesty, or the honesty and eliminate hope. We shouldn’t choose. Lament allows us to be as brutally honest as we need to be and yet still have hope.”
  • 17:34—Ad Break: “Charting a Course Through Grief” A free 8-week ecourse with a variety helpful resources on grief. cct.biola.edu/grief
  • 20:24—On a “defiant hope,” Job, and the geography of suffering.
  • 20:56—“We have this defiant hope, a defiant hope which is both lamenting and hopeful. And the hope does not undermine the lament, it makes sense of the lament.”
  • 22:30— “In grace you don’t just have to live there all the time, but let’s not pretend it goes away.”
  • 25:13—On community, faith, hope, and love.
  • 26:15—“The faith is not something we generate, it’s something we receive. It’s a gift from God, it’s the faith. It’s the faith of the saints before us, the church’s faith. So I need to have faith, but it’s the community. So what happens then is when you’re suffering, often we struggle to have faith, and the people of God believe for us. And in that way they represent us to God. And they believe when we can’t. And similarly with hope, when we’re suffering, it’s very hard to generate hope, to cling to hope. But the people of God can embody hope for us and in that way they represent God to us. And then love is the context, otherwise it becomes plastic.”
  • 28:03—“It would surprise a lot of Christians to realize people who are seriously suffering, whether from surgeries or from psychological or other kinds of things, they commonly will say the hardest time for them in their week is Sunday morning, actually going to church.”
  • 30:35—On commitment, the myth of autonomy, and witness.
  • 32:03—“The way we love those who suffer is we remain faithful, and we have to remember that it’s not just us caring for them. They actually care for us… They teach us about God. They teach us about ourselves. It’s got to be mutual.”
  • 35:56—“If you have not developed the muscles of lament and of empathy, because if you yourself haven’t experienced it, you think it’s not real. And that’s a denial of our world. That’s a myth, and that’s a problem.”
  • 36:34—“'God is faithful' doesn't mean that, if this is an evil thing, it's a good thing. It just means that God can and does even show up there. And His grace can be found even in the midst of the hurt and suffering.”

Credits

  • Hosted and produced by Evan Rosa
  • Resource of the Biola University Center for Christian Thought, which is sponsored by generous grants from the John Templeton Foundation, Templeton Religion Trust, and The Blankemeyer Foundation
  • Theme music by The Brilliance
  • Production and Engineering by the Narrativo Group. More info at Narrativogroup.com
  • Edited and mixed by TJ Hester
  • Production Assistance by Kaleb Cohen
  • Follow: @EvanSubRosa / @BiolaCCT / cct.biola.edu

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