This essay is written from the vantage point of a comparative theologian who is personally steeped in the Eastern Orthodox Christian tradition and who primarily specializes in Christian-Muslim comparative theology. It might seems curious, then, that the present essay employs the comparative theological method in order to focus on questions of theodicy in the Christian and Hindu traditions. Perhaps even more curious, however, is that I aim not at articulating a comparative Christian-Hindu theodicy, but rather at suggesting that the most productive path forward is a comparative theological rejection of theodicy as a productive enterprise. Drawing from resources within my own Orthodox Christian tradition, as well as from the thought of Paul Ricoeur, my essay will revolve around two primary arguments: first, theodicy functions primarily to reconcile human beings to evil’s existence, thus legitimizing it and reducing the need to counteract evil; and second, religious traditions more effectively encounter the question of evil by teaching a path by which practitioners can mourn, reject, combat, and transform evil. Accordingly, I will first briefly examine two salient instances of comparative Christian-Hindu theodicy in order to demonstrate how my approach differs. Next, I will engage with key critics of theodicy, some of whom are skeptical of religion (or even hostile to it), and some of whom are religious adherents who maintain theodicy is an inherently deleterious mode of thought. I will conclude by drawing from both Fyodor Dostoevsky and Paul Ricoeur in order to suggest a more productive trajectory for comparative theology and the challenges posed by the existence of evil and suffering.
Monge, Rico G.
"The Limits of Theodicy: An Eastern Orthodox Perspective on Evil and Interreligious Theology,"
Journal of Hindu-Christian Studies:
Vol. 29, Article 6.
Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.7825/2164-6279.1629