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6. Darwin’s Ambiguous Gift to Reformed Theology: The Problem of Natural Suffering and Calvin’s Meditation on the Future Life

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Chapter Summary

In this chapter, the author invites a conversation between Calvin and Darwin on the theme of "natural suffering". The chapter briefly identifies a number of challenges raised by evolutionary theory in order to focus on one of these, namely the problem of natural suffering. This raises the theodicy problem and the nature of God's relationship with the world afresh. The chapter explores Calvin's Institutes in search of resources within the Reformed tradition to respond to such contemporary discourse. It further explores questions with specific reference to Calvin's famous meditation on the future life. From the perspective of reformed theology the legacy of Darwin may be regarded as a welcome gift. It serves as a call to return to a soteriological line of inquiry when contemplating the knowledge of God in creation whether in the form of a theology of nature or natural theology.

Keywords:Charles Darwin; Institutes; John Calvin; natural suffering; reformed theology



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