Thursday, April 10, 2014

On God and Dr. House

It's become fashionable in some theological circles to contend that God suffers (e.g. Jürgen Moltmann, Terence Fretheim). Not surprisingly, this is seeping into Arminian theology as well (e.g. Roger Olson). 

I watched the first season or so of House. Like most other TV series, I eventually stopping watching–because it becomes predictable after a while. 

The premise of House is a paradox: a misanthrope who's a world-class physician. On the face of it, isn't that counterintuitive? I mean, isn't a good doctor supposed to care about his patients? Isn't that a prerequisite? Empathy for your patient?

But the show explores the opposite viewpoint. Parents and spouses can't act in the best interests of their ailing loved one because affection clouds their judgment. They can't balance the risks of the patient's life-threatening condition with a potentially life-threatening treatment. 

I remember one episode in which the parents neglect to tell House or his team that their son was adopted. Since some illnesses are hereditary, this can be a crucial bit of information. But they fail to mention it because that would be like saying he's not their real child. As a result, they endanger their child by impeding the correct diagnosis and life-saving treatment. 

By contrast, because Dr. House isn't emotionally invested in his patients, he can take better care of them than their loving parents or spouse. He can take better care of them because he doesn't care about them. 

Of course, it isn't necessary for a physician to dislike people to be a good physician. The show is exaggerating to make a point.

God doesn't have to suffer to be a merciful God. Indeed, divine detachment is a virtue. 


  1. I wrote about House recently, too.

  2. Aaaannnnd here's another: