Austin Farrer on homiletics and theodicies

The Word of God brings upon human pain and strife the consolation of eternal love. It is often thought that the Christian preacher is called upon … somehow to prove that the intolerable evils which ravage the earth are only the price of greater good. But the answer naturally provoked by such explanations is that of the suffering woman: ‘That makes it no better; it hurts just the same.’ Or even: ‘If that is what God’s love does, then for God’s sake let me have a taste of his wrath.’ No, God does not give us explanations; we do not comprehend the world, and we are not going to. It is, and it remains for us, a confused mystery of bright and dark. God does not give us explanations; he gives up a Son. Such is the spirit of the angel’s message to the shepherds: ‘Peace upon earth, good will to men … and this shall be the sign unto you: ye shall find a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, and lying in a manger.’ A Son is better than an explanation. The explanation of our death leaves us no less dead than we were; but a Son gives us a life, in which to live.

from The Essential Sermons, (SPCK, 1991), 204.

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