The Mystery of Evil and the Hiddenness of God: Understanding Mystery in Christian Theodicy

How to Cite

Liu, S. (2022). The Mystery of Evil and the Hiddenness of God: Understanding Mystery in Christian Theodicy. Vanderbilt Undergraduate Research Journal, 12(1), 9-16.


Mysterium iniquitatis, the “mystery of evil,” constitutes the unresolved theological, philosophical, and pastoral debates over the pervasion of evil and suffering that contradicts a world under the providence of the omnipotent, omniscient, and benevolent God of Christianity. At the same time, the idea of mystery not only characterizes the conundrum of evil but also the hiddenness of God that formulates the relationship between creature, creator, and the pervasion of suffering that spans Christian scriptural and theological thought. The paper aims to construct a comparative exegesis of three works concerned with the meaning and significance of mystery in Christian theodical thought. Explicating the Grand Inquisitor from Fyodor Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov, the paper begins with highlighting a cynical view of mystery as a tool for the authority of liturgical institutions that ultimately offers no pastoral consolation within the framework of Christian theology. Then, drawing on Karen Kilby’s critique of Post-Enlightenment theodicy and its shortcoming in understanding the creator and the divine and Gustav Gutiérrez’s idea of divine love and gratuitousness, I propose understanding mystery as a destabilizing opening in the practice of theodicy that constellates ways to engage theologically with the mystery of the divine and translating it into an ethical understanding of, instead of a justification for, the pervasion of evil and injustice.
Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Copyright (c) 2022 Array