So over the weekend this video did the rounds, a teaser clip for Gay Byrne’s interview with Stephen Fry, highlighting what happened when their conversation turned to ‘God’. The full interview actually only aired on RTE One, an Irish TV station, on Sunday night, but by that point most online news outlets had already done a piece on ‘What Stephen Fry Would Say to God’ and the video had been bouncing all around the Twittersphere. We also had a pre-SuperBowl late night tweet rant from footballer Joey Barton, but we’ll not go near that for now.
Of course, the ‘what kind of a God allows suffering?’ line is not a particularly new ‘charge’, but Fry, being the charming and lucid national treasure that he is, has managed to pack quite a lot of apparent punch into the two minute clip.
So, how do Christians go about responding?
Well, if you genuinely want to get your head around how Christians can still believe in the God of the Bible, in the face of suffering, then take fifteen minutes to thoughtfully read this post by my friend Chris. He’s no stranger to suffering, and yet his piece exudes not outrage and disgust but a trust in the God who Christians claim has made himself known in the person of Jesus.
Of course blogs aren’t necessarily the best genre for reflecting on such an important matter. In a Buzzfeed-type way, we can be tempted to see a heap of text and just click over to the next thing. But, whether you’re a believer or not, whether Fry’s video made you nod vehemently or whether it made you shake your head, please give this post a decent read. If you’re at work or on the go, bookmark it and come back to it sometime this week when you’ve got the time and capacity to do it justice.
Here’s 2 and a half other responses:
Sometimes accusations similar to Fry’s are made in such a way that they suggest the Christian has never had to wrestle this one through for themselves, with tear-drenched Bible in hand. Church Times journalist Madeleine Davies makes the important observation that Christians have been confronting, and will go on confronting, the issue of suffering in the painful realities of their own lives.
Krish Kandiah highlights C.S. Lewis’ observation that, when it comes to the question of suffering, our innate sense of justice may just reveal more than we think.
And finally here’s the ‘half’, in that it’s an older post, so not quite a response to Fry but still a good ‘un because it covers the same ground. Minister and Spoken Word supremo Glen Scrivener takes up the particular issue of the ‘parasite’, that oft-used illustration against a Good God. His point in essence? Don’t forget the Fall, guys.
What do you think? How would you respond?