Theology of Suffering

MS 3XS3/5XS5/6XS6

Winter 2024
Mon 11:00am - 12:50pm

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 implications of caring for the afflicted. The social and political root causes of suffering will be assessed with the aim of taking practical steps to alleviate these causes.


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


  • To articulate our own developing insights about the integration of suffering and a vital relationship with God.
  • To be led into solidarity with those who suffer.
  • To develop actions to counter the root causes of suffering