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Did the Demons Do it? Jesus, Satan and the Problem of Suffering
Why suffering occurs in a world created by a loving God remains one of the most wrestled-with questions in human thought. Does God send suffering to educate, correct or deepen us? Does suffering bring out human qualities that would never emerge without it? Or, is suffering a negative, destructive force we would be better without? If so, why does God allow it? Michael Lloyd takes a dim view of suffering. He will look primarily at the Gospels for answers to some of these questions, and he will argue that taking the New Testament’s demonic language seriously helps us to think more humanely about these difficult questions.
Michael Lloyd is the Principal of Wycliffe Hall and was formerly the chaplain at The Queen’s College, University of Oxford and the Director of Studies in Theology at Christ’s College, Cambridge University. He has his BA and MA from Cambridge University and D.Phil. from Oxford. He has taught theology and doctrine at the University of Oxford, Cambridge University and St. Paul’s Theological Centre, London.
Michael has published the popular introduction Café Theology (2005) and has a particular interest in the doctrine of evil and the problem of pain. He wrote his doctoral thesis on “The Cosmic Fall and the Free Will Defence” (Bodleian Library, 1997). This is a survey of Christian responses to the problem of evil, and a constructive defense of the Fall of the Angels hypothesis. He is working on turning this into an academic treatment of theodicy, and most of his academic work is in this area.
In his article on “The Humanity of Fallenness,” Michael argues that, without a doctrine of the Fall, the problem of evil is insoluble and Christian theology unravels. Many theodicies attempt to defend suffering as in some way instrumentally beneficial. This seems to Michael pastorally damaging, as it makes God the cause of people’s suffering and their enemy, at a time when they most need to know that He is with them, for them and on their side. He argues that theodicy should be about the defense of God, and should not pay suffering or evil the respect of granting it any positive place in the plan of God.
Michael also has an interest in the theology of G. F. Handel, and his significant place in the Deist Controversy of the 18th Century. Creative artists, composers, and writers play a bigger role in the shaping of intellectual culture than professional theologians and philosophers have tended to recognize. He wants to explore this further, and see if there are ways in which Wycliffe Hall can support and promote creative artists as part of the vision to be a center for the intellectual renewal of the Church, and, through the Church, of Society.
Michael Lloyd is the Principal of Wycliffe Hall at the University of Oxford in England.
To learn more about Michael Lloyd, click HERE.
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