Preaching and the problem of evil : a case study in the published sermons of Helmut Thielicke
Calvert, Michael Perry
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The purpose of this thesis is to investigate the preaching of Helmut Thielicke, the twentieth century German theologian and pastor (b. 1908, d. 1986). More specifically, this thesis will focus upon a selection of Thielicke's translated and published sermons that address the problem of evil and suffering (PES). Arguably, the PES represents the most formidable challenge to Christianity and presents an equally vexing difficulty for contemporary pulpit ministers. Thielicke's faithful preaching ministry, largely situated within the historical period encompassing the rise and fall of the Third Reich and its immediate aftermath, is remarkable for its straightforward treatment of the PES. Thielicke proclaimed the inscripturated Word of God to people in the midst of the horrendous evils and unspeakable atrocities brought about by the War. From his pulpit he boldly addressed the greatest questions raised by his generation concerning the existence of God and the presence of evil and suffering in the world. From the pages of the Word of God, Thielicke offered hope and comfort to the afflicted and pointed them to the Father whose love and mercy could be found in Jesus Christ His beloved Son. With the translation of Thielicke's sermons into English, the benefits of his remarkable preaching ministry are available to a wider audience and his messages that specifically address the PES are readily accessible to contemporary preachers. Given this, the present thesis will attempt to set forth a selection of Thielicke's published sermons on the PES as paradigmatic for contemporary pulpit ministers who must also preach to those who are suffering. The researcher will offer this collection of Thielicke's sermons on the PES as evidence supporting the thesis that he is a worthy model for the construction and delivery of biblical messages that effectively confront the PES and its many intellectual and pastoral challenges that are likewise faced by ministers of the written Word today.
- Theology