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The Doors of the Sea: Where Was God in the…

The Doors of the Sea: Where Was God in the Tsunami? (2005)

by David Bentley Hart

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Hart is an Eastern Orthodox Christian and writes from a perspective that is a little different than what we usually hear. The book is rich is philosophy, theology, and literary references, and will sometimes take a second or third reading of a passage to understand. Hart interacts extensively with the writings of Voltaire and Dostoyevsky in building his theodicy.

Although Hart states that he is not trying to make Reformed theology "the bad guy", he freely admits that certain elements of Reformed theology are simply not compatible with Eastern Orthodox theology. As an Arminian, I found it refreshing to find a work that is so rich and deep.

Since it seems that tragedies come at a fairly regular pace, this is a highly recommended work in understanding God and suffering. As noted, some passages take effort - but you will be rewarded richly for the effort. ( )
  Bill.Bradford | Dec 24, 2012 |
Excellent and very readable meditation on the problem of evil as it came to the fore after the tsunami on December 26, 2004 that killed at least 100,000 in Southeast Asia. Uses literary sources in his meditations, especially Voltaire's poem after the Lisbon earthquake, and Doestoevsky's Brothers Karamazov. Takes some strong shots at Calvinist predestinarian understandings of divine providence
  johnredmond | Mar 26, 2010 |
The Doors of the Sea is an emotional response against "metaphysical optimism," which in his view trivializes tragedy by stating that everything is okay in the end. Coming from an Eastern Orthodox perspective, Hart certainly believes that the Christian God is victorious in the end, but he warns against religious responses that attribute evil to God. According to Hart, God does not need horrendous evil in order to glorify Himself. Hart goes further to say that the doctrine of predestination compromises the core message of the gospel.

As a reader who has flip-flopped on this particular doctrine, I found this a very profound read. It is definitely packed with emotion, but only minimally focused at the tsunami. It is more a passionate rejection of metaphysical optimism and rejecting trivial versions of theodicy. ( )
  jupebox | Nov 29, 2008 |
Harte offers here a brief but significant case AGAINST theodicy pointing out the fallacies of theodicy and offering an introduction to the unique understanding of god presented in the Judeo/Christian Scriptures. ( )
  dboyce70 | Sep 6, 2008 |
An excellent book of anti-theodicy. Hart is able to articulate just what divine apatheia truly entails for the Christian faith in his working out of the 'problem' of evil. He is most profound in the end of the book when he reminds us that we are to hate evil with a perfect hate but know that even in the midst of unspeakable terror and death, that we are not to see God, but the face of evil and sin and know that in the end, God will wipe away all our tears. Highly recommended and accessible (for Hart) text on the issue of what is commonly referred to as 'natural evil', although the 'moral evil' issue is covered rather heavily as well in the work of Dostoyevsky, Voltaire, et. al. ( )
  ericaustinlee | Mar 31, 2008 |
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In that great verdant arc of lands that forms the northeastern rim of the Indian Ocean and that takes the Bay of Bengal into its embrace—sweeping out from Sri Lanka and up the coasts of eastern India to Bangladesh and Burma, then down the Malay Peninsula to Thailand and Malaysia, and then further down the coast of Sumatra to the western tip of Java—there are Gods without number.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0802829767, Hardcover)

As news reports of the horrific tsunami in Asia reached the rest of the world, commentators were quick to seize upon the disaster as proof of either God’s power or God’s nonexistence. Expanding on his Wall Street Journal piece, “Tremors of Doubt,” published the last day of 2004, David Bentley Hart here returns to this pressing question: How can the existence of a good and loving God be reconciled with such suffering? Hart clarifies the biblical account of God’s goodness, the nature of evil, and the shape of redemption, incisively revealing where both Christianity’s champions and its critics misrepresent what is most essential to Christian belief.

Though he responds to those skeptical of Christian faith, Hart is at his most perceptive and provocative as he examines Christian attempts to rationalize the tsunami disaster. Many people want a divine plan that will make sense of evil. Hart contends, however, that the history of suffering and death is not willed by God. Rather than appealing to a divine calculus that can account for every instance of suffering, Christians must recognize the ongoing struggle between the rebellious powers that enslave the world and the God who loves it.

This meditation by a brilliant young theologian will deeply challenge serious readers grappling with God’s ways in a suffering world.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:03:52 -0400)

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