Theodicy

The question of the justification (dikem) of God Himself (theos) is raised as a response to the problem of actual human experience within a world in which fulfillment is qualified or shattered by premature death, mental or physical retardation, destructive social conditions including war, the accidents of natural or manmade catastrophe, or the terror of history itself. The term appears first in the title of a work published by G.W. Leibnitz* in 1710, and the ensuing discussion is shaped by the spirit of the so- called Enlightenment; but the problem is ancient, as illustrated by reference to the religio-secular wisdom literature of the Near East; Babylonian, Egyptian, and biblical. Presumably the problem rests ultimately in the effort to do justice to finite freedom in relation to divine creativity. Tillich* has rightly raised the observation that the appropriateness of the question of theodicy is maintained only with respect to the consideration of “ `my' creaturely existence,” and that the correlate question cannot therefore be raised “with respect to persons other than the questioner,” which observation is not far removed from that Reformation principle of the ultimate sovereignty and mystery of God upon which all notions of destiny and predestination rightly depend.