Earth- “the vale of soul-making”

By Dave Henning / December 6, 2012

Phillip Yancy observes in Chapter 7 of Where is God When It Hurts? that people who assume that human beings are completed creatures in need of a suitable home are puzzled or even outraged by the problem of suffering.  In contrast, Professor John Hicks summarizes the Christian view in his book Philosophy of Religion: since God is dealing with incomplete creatures, our earthly environment must primarily nurture the process of soul-making.  In the early 1800’s, the English poet John Keats referred to earth as “the vale of soul-making”.

In his book The Problem of Pain, C. S. Lewis explains the differences in the above viewpoints:

“We want not so much a father in heaven as a grandfather in heaven- whose plan for the universe was such that it might be said at the end of the day, ‘A good time was had by all.’  I should very much like to live in a universe which was governed on such lines, but since it is abundantly clear that I don’t, and since I have reason to believe that God is love, I conclude that my concept of love needs correction. . . . it is natural for us to wish that God has designed for us a less glorious and less arduous destiny; but then we are wishing not for more love, but less.”

Faith that has been  through the refiner’s fire may emerge stronger than ever.  The author cites Rabbi Abraham Heschel: “Faith like Job’s cannot be shaken because it is the result of having been shaken.”

About the author

Dave Henning

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