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Learning Theodicy

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This article focuses on the problem of theodicy as a subject-matter for religious education. The question is raised whether it is possible to gain comprehension of theodicy models and, if so, to what extent. Empirical research on the effects of a theodicy course, dealing with the retaliation model, the plan model and the compassion model, shows that it indeed is possible to 'learn' theodicy models. Furthermore, our results also show that students especially gain comprehension of the plan model; a theodicy model which explains human suffering from a teleological point of view. Although both the plan model as well as the retaliation model nowadays do not find theological favour, we still consider these results of great value. With regard to the theodicy issue, our course, apparently, enables students to develop their own religious frame of reference in a competent and independent way.

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