Crenshaw Turns to Psalms for Study of Theodicy

The topic? Theodicy. The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church defines theodicy as “that part of natural theology which reject is concerned to defend the goodness and omnipotence of God against objections arising from the existence of evil in the world.” Or, as Kushner might put it, “when good things happen to bad people.” “In a proper universe, good deeds receive their just rewards and wicked conduct is promptly punished,” writes Crenshaw in his new book, The Psalms: An Introduction. “Such is the unreal world that persons of deep religious convictions have painted for millennia.” The book includes a scholarly analysis of Psalm 73, which is the story of an anguished believer who wonders why those who have fallen away from God are prospering, while he does not. In verses 3-4, the psalmist writes: “For I envied the arrogant when I saw the well-being of the wicked. For creation they have no pangs; their bodies are whole and well nourished. They do not experience trouble like ordinary people, and are not smitten along with other humans.” The theme continues in verse 12: “Lo, these are the sinners; ever at ease, they amass a fortune.” As have many contemporary Americans, the psalm’s author begins to question his creed in the face of such apparent unjustness. Then he enters the sanctuary of God and emerges with a completely changed perspective, said Crenshaw, who is the Robert L.

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