cover image The Doors of the Sea: Where Was God in the Tsunami?

The Doors of the Sea: Where Was God in the Tsunami?

David Bentley Hart. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, $14 (109pp) ISBN 978-0-8028-2976-4

Soon after the Indian Ocean tsunami in December, Hart penned two essays, one for the Wall Street Journal and another for First Things, concerning the question of theodicy-how a powerful, loving God co-exists with evil and natural disaster. This book expands on the essay's theological thesis that ""what God permits, rather than violate the autonomy of the created world, may be in itself contrary to what he wills."" Hart, an Eastern Orthodox Christian, wants to rescue God from predestination. The book begins with an elegant description of the geological factors leading to the earthquake and ensuing tsunami. Hart then admits that, upon learning of this devastation, ""we should probably all have remained silent for awhile."" But since few did, he joined the chorus in an effort to counter some upsetting arguments given to help people understand God's role in the disaster. Writing in a sophisticated, academic style-highlighting the philosophical and theological writings of Voltaire, Aquinas, Dostoyevsky and Calvin-Hart asks Christians to allow themselves to be moved and horrified by violence, natural or human-made, and, at the same time, to acknowledge that God can and someday will bring about the Kingdom of Heaven on earth. It's an eloquent and persuasive stance.