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Where Was God in the Earthquake?

A theological response to the Haitian calamity from Fleming Rutledge.

At the time of the tsunami in the Indian Ocean, David Bentley Hart, the Eastern Orthodox theologian, wrote a column in The Wall Street Journal that attracted wide attention. Bill Eerdmans, of Eerdmans Publishing, contacted Hart and asked him to expand the column into a book. Hart did so, and the resulting The Doors of the Sea: Where Was God in the Tsunami? is the most useful short treatment of the problem of evil and suffering that we have.

A tweet I saw this morning reminded me of Hart's book. The tweet said, "Why don't we have earthquakes on Park Avenue? The people of Haiti are so poor."

Why, indeed?

A frequent response heard from Christians is, "God has some purpose in this." "Something good will come out of this." "Haiti will become stronger as a result of this."

In one sense, all these things are true; however, these are deeply wrong responses, both theologically and pastorally. In a long chapter on the problem of evil that I wrote last year for my forthcoming book on the Crucifixion, ...

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