Although we sometimes praise a person who suffers for not sinking under his suffering, we still suppose that the sufferer is to be ranked more among life’s losers than among life’s winners. The disability rights movement is an exception to this general attitude—it wants others to see that those with disabilities are people to celebrate. The Christian tradition has held an analogous position as regards suffering in general: those who endure serious suffering are not the pitiable losers of life or even the heroic overcomers of tragedy but rather are those specially loved by God. This lecture looks closely at the relevant Christian doctrines to explain this attitude towards suffering and to distinguish it from the neighboring perverse attitude that sees suffering as an intrinsic good. 

Panel discussion to follow with Kevin Vanhoozer, Christopher Wright, Christian Miller, Paul Nedelisky, Max Lee, and Oliver O’Donovan.

This event is made possible through the support of a grant from the John Templeton Foundation. The opinions expressed in this conference are those of the participants and do not necessarily reflect the views of the John Templeton Foundation.

Eleonore Stump (PhD Cornell University) is the Robert J. Henle Professor of Philosophy at Saint Louis University. She is the author or editor of seventeen books, including Wandering in Darkness: Narrative and the Problem of Suffering (Oxford University Press, 2010).

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