The inevitability of suffering and the persistence of hope are two components of Christian faith that many people have direct experience with; we often say that suffering makes our faith stronger. But whether we are talking about genocide, white supremacy, forced displacement, colonialism, imperialism, or personal violence, the church has a good deal of explaining to do: how and why have Christian institutions championed the virtue of suffering? Even when the church is on the side of the oppressed, why does suffering persist? These questions will be at the center of group discussion in this course, in which we will bring a variety of Christian perspectives on suffering and Anabaptism’s martyr heritage into dialogue as we wrestle with questions about the redemptive power of suffering. Using the resources of systematic and constructive theology with some assistance from the arts and biblical studies, this course will explore the interplay between suffering and hope so that we might faithfully give an account of the hope that lives in us even when there is not enough data to support our claims of God’s goodness. Prerequisite: Christian Theology 1.
Instructor: Malinda Elizabeth Berry, PhD