Theology of Suffering

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Gustavo Gutierrez asks, “Are suffering human beings able to enter into an authentic relationship with God and find a correct way of speaking about God?”  This is the core question of this course.  We will give attention to both the spirituality for a theology of suffering and to the methods for framing a theology of suffering.  Participants will be invited to consider ways in which their own view of suffering is being shaped.  This course will examine various theological approaches to suffering including those of noted theologians: Dorothy Soelle, Jurgen Moltmann, Gustavo Gutierrez, and Rubem Alves.  Nicolas Wolterstorff suggests that “the valley of suffering is the vale of soul-making.”  The course will examine the structure of suffering and offer critical reflection on the ministry implications for pastoral care and counseling of those who are most afflicted.


  • To explore a biblical framework for a theology suffering.
  • To reflect on the theological writings of those who have ‘dared their suspicions’ about God and suffering.


  • To listen for words that resonate with our own experience of suffering. “Absolutely unmixed  attention is prayer.”  - Simone Weil
  • To begin to discern ways that we can meaningfully speak about the goodness of God in a broken and suffering world.


  • To articulate our own developing insights about the integration of suffering and a vital relationship with God.
  • To attend to the ways that we are being led into solidarity with those who suffer.
  • To formulate a working pastoral theology of suffering.