Stephen Gottschalk, “Theodicy after Auschwitz and the Reality of God,” Union Seminary Quarterly Review, 1987, nos. 3-4, 77-91.

A powerful repudiation of traditional stereotypes reducing Christian Science to an expression of mindless optimism regarding the human condition:

“[Mrs. Eddy’s theological position] can be understood as a radical answer to the problem of theodicy….[S]he drove home again and again what she saw as the fatal weakness in the theodicy of orthodox Christianity: the belief that a God who was wholly omnipotent and good could be responsible for conditions of sin and suffering….

“The theology of Christian Science has not generally been given significant attention within theological circles, with the notable exception of [Karl] Holl’s and [Karl] Barth’s appraisals. Yet it has not only been embraced by tens of thousands of adherents over the years but embodied through their commitment to spiritual healing-a commitment which has been increasingly shared by other Christian bodies. If any one belief unites those who are presently involved in this practice, it is the conviction that God’s will is against rather than for disease and the suffering it entails. The growing agreement on this point may itself be said to constitute an incipient theodicy….

“The healing practice of Christian Science proceeds from just this view of God’s relation to human suffering. Indeed, by virtue of its very radicalism on this matter, Christian Science defines options and raises questions which have not been settled and which could hardly be so well articulated if its approach to theodicy is not taken into account. One needs to be neither a Barthian nor an advocate of Christian Science to grasp the significance of these questions and to begin thinking about them in different terms from those in which the problem of theodicy has too long been addressed….

“Jesus’ own answer to the problem of theodicy lay in the very fact that he lived, as John Cobb put it, ‘in the white heat generated by the nearness of God.’…

“Given the critical spiritual situation of our time, how else can we avoid a theodicy that is a mere intellectual exercise but by drawing nearer to that fire-source? May not the only possible advance in theodicy lie in taking more seriously than ever before and without qualification… the demands of accepting the Kingdom in its fullness?… In this renewal lies the only possible response to the dilemma of theodicy after Auschwitz.”

(See entire text)