AS OCR Philosophy- The Theodicy of Irenaeus

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Irenaeus was a 2nd Century Bishop, and was present at the time where Christianity was fairly new and developing. 

The problem of the 'Inconsistent Triad' troubled Irenaeus, making him embark on making a theodicy to justify the problems of evil and suffering with the existence of a traditional God of classical theism. 

The Inconsistent Triad: this challenges the existence and/or God as an omnibenevolent and omnipotent being with the presence of evil. In a nutshell, it argues that God cannot be omnibenevolent (as He is not loving enough to remove evil)  and/or God is not omnipotent (as He is incapable of removing evil.) 

Theodicy: a theodicy is an attempt to reconcile the three main attributes (omnibenevolence, omnipotence and omniscience) of God with the occurrence of evil and suffering. 

The theodicy of Irenaeus

Irenaeus' theodicy contemplates evil and suffering with the existence of God. In contrast to Augustine of Hippo whom rejects evil and believes it to be a privation of goodness. 

He was greatly inspired by the Book of Genesis, basing his theodicy on many of its teachings. 

1) The progression of human beings from the Image of God 

He supported the idea that humans were created in 'Imago Dei' (in the image of God- Genesis 1:27: ''So God created mankind in his own image) but he argued that humans needed to progress into being in 'likeness with God'. 

In a nutshell, he asserted that there was an 'imperfect' stage: the stage of being in the 'image of God', and the 'perfect' stage: the stage of being in 'likeness with God'. 

To justify having these two 'stages', Irenaeus used the 'analogy of the baby'. This analogy revolves around the idea that a baby can only be breastfed at the beginning of its existence as it is 'immature' to receive the food that adult human beings consume. Hence, the baby must 'mature' to be able to receive the food that adult human beings can eat. 

2) The role of evil and suffering in this progression 

To accomplish being in the perfect stage, Irenaeus argued that evil and suffering was an necessity

Evil and suffering to Irenaeus, therefore, has a




You could add...If god created hell then surely he knew his creation would turn to evil and suffering (through his omniscience) however if God is omni benevolent then surely he wouldn't want this to happen...

just a thought but possibly wrong!



Hm, but that's the Inconsistent Triad :P 

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