The philosophical problem of theodicy is that of trying to square God’s ways with our sense of justice. This assumes that we know what justice is, but the entire story the Bible tells begins with the error of that presumption. It is the original error of our wanting to name good and evil. Right from the start Adam tried to put God in the dock, making God responsible for the fall because, after all, God gave him the woman who tempted him to sin. From the beginning we see the argument building up to humanity’s cry, “God is guilty!”–building up to the derelict nailed to the cross.
Fr. Richard John Neuhaus, Death on a Friday Afternoon
If we cannot set things right, if we cannot even set ourselves, never mind the world, right–who, then, is to do it? It must be someone who is in no way responsible for what has gone wrong. It must be done by an act that is perfectly gratuitous, that is not driven by necessity, by an act that is perfectly free. The act must be by one who embodies everything, whose life is not one life among many, but is life itself–a life that is our life and the life of all who have ever lived and ever will live. But where is such a one to be found?…The One who is life itself does this because nobody else could do it. He who is light and life plunges headlong into darkness and death and does so in perfect freedom.
—Fr. Richard John Neuhaus, Death on a Friday Afternoon
I may think it modesty when I draw back from declaring myself chief of sinners, but it is more likely a failure of imagination. For what sinner should I speak if not for myself? Of all the billions of people who have lived and of all the thousands whom I have known, whom should I say is chief of sinners. Surely I am authorized, surely I am competent to speak only for myself? When in the presence of God the subject of sin is raised, how can I help but say that chiefly it is I? Not to confess that I am chiefly the one is not to confess at all. It is the evasion of Adam, who said, ‘It was the woman who you gave to be with me.’ It is the evasion of Eve, who said, ‘The serpent beguiled me.’ IT is not to confess at all, and by our making of excuses is our complicity compounded.
–Fr. Richard John Neuhaus, Death on a Friday Afternoon
The sovereignty of Jesus is a disputed sovereignty. It was then, it is now, and it will be until he returns in glory to establish his kingdom beyond all possible dispute. Christians are those who, like the thief on the cross, have turned to him with faith that is more like a desperate hope and, in listening to his response, have found the faith that moves mountains.
— Fr. Richard John Newhaus, Death on a Friday Afternoon