Why Lord?: Suffering and Evil in Black Theology—Anthony Pinn—Theodicy has to do with suffering under a loving and benevolent God. It is a difficult subject because it challenges why bad things sometimes happen to good people. This book will not make it any better, but you will see that someone is at least trying to explain it in a religious context.

As Harvard University’s Humanist Chaplaincy “Humanist of the Year" in 2006, Pinn provides a clear look at the idea of an omnibenevolent god who allows the people he cares about so much to suffer showing the inconsistency of the two positions. Pinn, who also received the African American Humanist Award from the Council for Secular Humanism, reveals the problem of theodicy and its inconsistency with the idea of an all-loving god.

Specifically, Pinn makes it evident that black theologians have “no evidence to support the notion that God is working on behalf of the oppressed, and any theological position that claims such is based on redemptive suffering theodicies that perpetuate African American suffering.” In addition, the book also makes it evident that there is no virtue in redemptive suffering for African Americans or any American for that matter.manist Award from the Council for Secular Humanism, reveals the problem of theodicy and its inconsistency with the idea of an all-loving god.

The book also challenges the notion of God’s omnibenevolence by positing the idea that if suffering has no meaning then God is either a monster or a myth. The book also takes up the position that bad things happen to good people, a position even debated by Christian theologians. Pinn distinguishes between natural sufferings brought on by nature as meaningless as far as morality is concerned. On the other hand, human inflicted suffering such as slavery is entirely immoral and attached to those who inflict it rather than those who must endure it.

Although written almost two decades ago, “Why Lord?: Suffering and Evil in Black Theology” is as relevant today as it was in 1995. Pinn also eviscerates the idea of a “divine plan” where God’s children must be tested, which is a circular argument at best if the omniscient teacher already knows the answers.

Even though I went back to review a book I read in 1996, overall, “Why Lord?: Suffering and Evil in Black Theology” is well worth the read. It is well written, carefully researched and interesting, a combination few writers attain. Theodicy is a pain in the ass for Christian religionist and after reading Pinn’s argument you will understand why if you haven’t already done so. It is an especially good read for open-minded black theologians (if there is such a thing) to reevaluate their positions regarding “black liberation theology and its boundaries.

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Comment by Donald R Barbera on September 21, 2014 at 4:08pm

It as good a "viewpoint" anybody else's. I agree with you on the god deal. I knew about Thor, Odin and Koki before I was ten years old. I also knew about Zeus and Hera. I was a comic book reader at an early age and learned as a young boy and they taught me things Ike the gods of the Norse, Romans and Greeks. Plus, my grandmother read to me on a regular basis. Of course, when it comes to evil, A majority of Christians blame it on Satan not realizing that if there is a Satan then is either not omnipotent because he can't get rid of the demon or he is an sadistic god who enjoys seeing his people suffer. In the black community where Christianity reigns, somehow the pain and the suffering experienced over decades seems to be forgotten as God is credited  with the winning solution.  

Comment by Michael Penn on September 18, 2014 at 7:39pm

I think the book would be a good read, but I keep holding out for someone to write "Why Good Things Happen To Bad People."

That might be coz there's no god keeping score.

Comment by Donald R Barbera on September 18, 2014 at 6:32pm

I agree. I guess I don't give a crap one or another. That said, I firmly believe that in the black community, church is more of a social club than a place praising God. I wish I had the time and money to work with a church to see how people react if all types music were eliminated, including singing and even clapping hands. Next, I would make services rigidly tied to scripture, teaching from the Bible and eliminate all Bibles except the King James version. I wonder if the church would lose members? If so, how many? What type of church would those that left attend? In the black community, I know that when I hear, "We really had church today" I know that it is in response to how well they were entertained by the choir and the preacher's gift for oratory. As important as the church has been for blacks over the years, I think religion has always been secondary to good works, relief from oppression and safety, especially during Reconstruction. Yes, there are staunch believers but I believe in the 80/20 rule where 20% actually adhere to the principles set forth in the Bible and that includes white churches also.

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