Theology of Suffering 

In primordial time and space, the Holy Trinity propagated its image into a gradually unfolding creation account.  Revelation and sacramental experience describes this active prerogative, Creator exercises with expectations of exchanging intimacy. First Testament, narratives began capturing elements of this special relationship that God initiated. Blessings, faith, and grace characterize the nature of a pristine template, dispensed to engender and sustain life giving relationship. The Creator acknowledged, through words and ritual, their pleasure with the human component of the project. [1]  

A second creation story invited humankind to be become more involved in solutions to a labor shortage. "There is no one to till the earth."[2]  The first cultivation act required labeling and naming creation's discrete elements.[3] Humankind presented itself in this narrative, with accepting responsibility to operate within a collaborative partnership. The Creator insisted upon sharing other powers with newly created Beings, allowing them even to shape internal and social formation. Sexuality became a means of exercising creativeness alongside God, although, not without parameters. Male, female, and God,  entered into a triune-like relationship that grew to represent marital ontology. Early nakedness generated no shame under these conditions as both genders faithfully interacted within prescribed norms. Beauty at this primordial stage was yet to experience contamination from glamour, lust, or objectification.[4]  The desire for authentic relationships characterized by beauty, unison, truth, and goodness, compelled believers towards a sense of God's moral prevalence for dignity, integrity, and freedom.  The Creator distributed several other powerful gifts, most notable freedom, but again, not without a caveat[5]  

Suffering and despair entered the human experience only after it had tasted pristine and Trinitarian-like relations. The Scriptures speak of this pre-fall relationship in terms of liberating, collaborative, and eternal, contrasting that state of being, with slavery, isolation, and death. God, in some sense, envisions a pure and tightly enclosed anticontamination bubble that humankind allowed to burst.

The entire state of original or intended human/divine relationship hinged on humankind's capacity to accept the Creator's omnipotent sovereignty. Uprising only later emerged from seeds of doubt, planted in a question. "Did God tell you not to eat from any of the trees in the garden?"[6] Humanity responded to the question by echoing God's instructions thoroughly and accurately, although they could have simple answered, yes. Instead, a long-winded reply exposed the human heart to eventual disease.

 

While the serpent is subsistent to God, the evil it represented, triggered a spiritual rebellion. The articulate, but deceptive entity, introduced a convincing argument that seemed to trivialize God's instructions. Humanity can well understand that death awaits disobedience, but evil's seduction proved too strong. Carbon/spiritual based elements, reasoned that the fruits of the garden were edible, aesthetically pleasing, and wisdom enabling. On the surface, these deductions are accurate. The problem arose when humanity dismissed God from the intended Triune-like partnership arrangement. Replacing an eternal partner with a temporal self-reasoning entity bent on challenging God's sovereignty would have dire consequences. Human suffering accelerated exponentially from the instance it decided to forgo sacramental relationship.  

The serpent told the person, "God knows well that from the moment you eat of it (tree of knowledge of good and evil), your eyes will be open, and you will be like gods."[7]  Succumbed to deceit, the man and woman failed to believe that God had already created them in the Divine image. Man and woman stood naked in the garden, and upon the serpent's seduction, their perception of beauty also suffered. Fear turned to shame, stimulating futile attempts to take cover. Slipping subtly into alignment with evil's rebellious project, further damaged the human, but God mercifully introduced new soteriological plans. The unleashed sin virus spread wildly across creation analogous to ways that paralyze present-day technology. Would the human permanently shift its allegiances towards the serpent proposing much less than what God delivers?

 

[1] From the first story of creation, Gen, 1:27-31. To preserve the sacramental teachings points of these Biblical passages within the culture initially tasked with doing so, the truths need expression in terms that the ancients could understand. Genesis accounts of creation inform of spiritual revelation in a pre-scientific era.   

[2] From the second story of creation, Gen, 2:5-7.

[3] God changes the name of several Biblical figures including Abram, (Gen, 17:5) Sarai, (Gen, 17:15) Jacob, (Gen, 32:18). “By now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob and formed you, O Israel: Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name: you are mine.” Isaiah, 43:1.

[4] From Gen, 2:18. “It’s not good for the man to be alone. I will make a suitable partner for him.” God presents partnerships as the seeds of community. Loneliness belongs to death as apposed to creation and life as humankind is never as alone as when dead. 

[5] From Gen, 2:16-17. “You are free to eat from any of the trees of the garden except the tree of knowledge of good and bad. From that tree you shall not eat; the moment you eat from it you are surely doomed to die.” This is a huge test with fatal consequences in the event of failure.

[6] From Gen. 3:1. The question takes voice through personification of a serpent.  

[7] From Gen. 3:5. The serpents has spoken the truth in this passage.

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