Irenaeus' Theodicy and Hick's Vale of Soul Making


Irenaeus' Theodicy

Irenaeus was a second century Ancient Greek philosopher; and one of the most notable of this time. He had relations with the writer of the Book of John, within the New Testament of the Bible - and hence had a strong connection with the followers of Jesus. It is perhaps considerable that the time of his existence wasn't too long Jesus' presence on earth. 

He wrote Against Heresies; which challenged the deviations against Christianity that were emerging at this time - instead, correcting them. 

Ultimately, Irenaeus suggested that we are born as immature individuals; but it is free will that enables us to grow into God's likeness; thus perfection. He used Genesis 1:26 - which states: "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness", to distinguish the image and likeness of God. Image refers to basic shared qualities - such as conscience, moral action and intelligence; whilst likeness is gradually acquired perfection. 

Irenaeus suggests that God did not create us as perfect individuals because we would unable to cope with such, being immature; in the same way that a newborn infant cannot initially be fed solid food. Perfection is therefore gradually developed through moral growth, similar to how physical growth is what enables a child to eat proper food. In light of this, within Genesis of the Bible, Adam and Eve were made to leave the Garden of Eden because they were too immature; and needed to practice their free will in order to gain likeness of God. This reflects John Hick's suggestion that we cannot develop our souls within paradise. 

If we are to not make our own moral decisions then goodness loses its intrinsic value; and hence, free will's provision is quite fundamental. With such, God must take a step back and allow evil to take place. It can supposedly be justified because it leads to the greater good of humanity - though some raise the question as to whether the end truly justifies the means; as it is generally seen to be the case that bad action (here, in the creation of an imperfect world) is right even if it is to result in ultimate good. 

Suffering and subsequent action was thought to be what enables us to grow morally. However, there are criticisms to this idea. For example, it could be seen that the evil are merely 'victims of the system' that cannot


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