June 25, 2006

Henry Neufeld - “When bad things happen to good people”

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Sometimes bad things happen to good people. Henry Neufeld pointed out that in traditional Christian-Jewish thought, the implication is that bad things should happen to bad people. Henry used Job’s story to illustrate various ways people deal with unjust suffering. Despite the well-meaning assistance of good friends, Job’s contrarian insistence on his innocence forced God to answer Job in a way he did not want to hear. God’s answer to Job does not answer Job or his friends’ questions about human suffering - instead God says “What do you know about running the world?” Henry referred to 2Esdras (Apochrypha) where Ezra the prophet asks God the same question. God, through the angel Uriel, answers Ezra not as he expects, but with three seemingly simple, knowable questions. Ezra, answer-less, is frustrated, and asks “Why then have I been given the power of understanding?” 2Cor6 records Paul’s trials, despite his doing God’s will. In Mark 4:35-41, Jesus calms the storm for his companions. This story is different than the others, in that a bad thing did not happen to good people, yet they were left with more questions than if Jesus had not intervened. These accounts tell us that God will not always respond to our cries and complaints. And when we demand justice of God, do we need someone to talk back to us as God did to Job? Or will we get, as Job’s friends were, someone feeding us platitudes? Henry feels the most appropriate answer is to get past asking why, and ask “now what do I do?” An excellent question period followed that distinguished the most appropriate answer to the problem of evil (theodicy, thank you Veronica) from a theological perspective was not “Why me?” but “Why not me?”. [AP]


Passage: Job 38:1-16
Communion: No
Ecumenical or Event:
Potluck Lunch: No
Congregational Meeting: No


Speaker: Henry Neufeld
Worship Leader: Karl Brown
Song Leader: Erna Friesen
Pianist: Kathryn Schmidt
Usher: Rovin Karuna
Zoom Coordinator:
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