The Bible and Beyond Podcast Episode
Early Christians Answer “Where Is God When Things Go Wrong?”
An Interview with Dr. Jason BeDuhn
Dr. BeDuhn studies ancient Christian, Jewish, and Manichaean thinkers, and in this podcast interview, he explores their common “tipping point”—the place where all these religious groups struggled to find answers to explain a perfect God who allowed bad things to happen. All of them did so by blurring the idea of monotheism to some degree. There was some other divine influence, commonly known as a ‘demiurge’ who became the source of evil in some manner.
Dr. Jason BeDuhn is a professor of Comparative Study of Religions and Asian Studies at Northern Arizona University and chairs the university’s Liberal Studies Committee. He is editor of the Nag Hammadi and Manichaean Studies with Brill Publishers, and he co-chairs Westar Institute’s Christianity Seminar. BeDuhn is a Guggenheim Fellow and National Humanities Center Fellow. He won the “Best First Book” award for his book, The Manichaean Body published in 2000, and more recently he authored The First New Testament: Marcion’s Scriptural Canon (2013).
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More in the “Where Is God When Things Go Wrong” series:
“Where Is God When Things Go Wrong” by Shirley Paulson (blog post)
“Marcion Answers ‘Where Is God When Things Go Wrong?’” an interview with Dr. Stephen A. Cooper (podcast)
“Ancient and Modern Thinkers Answer ‘Where is God When Things Go Wrong?‘” an interview with Dr. James McGrath (podcast)
Just a thank you, Shirley, for introducing us lay folks to these fascinating conversations with cutting-edge scholars. There is so much here to ponder. It seems that each age feels the need to identify the demiurge in some way, which implies an underlying human need for meaning. So we ask, where does this need for meaning come from? Perhaps it is the part of us that is not crafted by the demiurge, but the Divine in us.
Oh, thank you for this insightful suggestion, Helen. It’s an interesting question to ponder – how do we know and get in touch with that part of us not crafted by the demiurge? And the question for meaning could be a key that unlocks it for us.
The theodicy of Christian Science answers the question of evil’s supposed existence when God is infinite good.
“The leading self evident proposition of Christian Science is good, being real, evil, good’s opposite is unreal.” MIS 46
Evil is error, a false belief. Why look further? It’s been scientifically demonstrated.
“Some people are just ‘educated’ beyond their intelligence.” Sir Arthur Clark. LOL
Richard, I do resonate with your point from Christian Science that “good, being real, evil, good’s opposite is unreal.” But I have to say, and I think Mary Baker Eddy might have agreed with this, that we humans experience so much evil, it requires much life experience, prayer, and probably even cross-bearing to come to the realization that evil has no real bearing on one’s life. That’s one of the reasons I think this ancient writing is so powerful. I think, in the long run, it comes to the same conclusion, but it does so by showing how humans understand and experience this profound (and healing) transformation of thought.
La verdad que estoy sorprendido por la forma de razonar acerca del mal. La Biblia dice claramente que Satanas el diablo es el padre de la mentira y el principal cabecilla de la rebelion contra el creador. Lo afirmo el propio JesuCristo a quen segumos (Juan 8:44). El mal lo genera el y sus demonios, y las personas que manifiestan las mismas actitudes de rebeldia a los preceptos divinos. Puesto que cada vez mas personas rechazan a dios, cada vez mas se empeoran las cosas. Asi de simple. No se puede hacer filosofia con lo que la palabra de Dios revela a las claras. Pronto el mal (su originador y sus complices, seran eliminados) Salmo 37.