N.T. Wright begins his exploration of theodicy (a defense of suffering and evil) with the observation that in Heaven there is no sea. For humans the sea has always had a mystical and mysterious attraction, because it is so unknown, because we are so powerless before it. But it isn't only a place of beauty and wonder—it is filled with dangers, both above the waves and below, dangers to which both the wary and the reckless are subject. The sea fuels our imagination with its grandeur and its power and its caprice. Why is it absent in Heaven? Because in Heaven, Wright suggests, the sea will be replaced by God.
From there he launches into a short history of the modern concept of evil, how various thinkers have tried to resolve the problems it raises, and argues himself for a more nuanced view of evil than is typically offered. We can no longer accept secular responses to evil (such as the promulgation of democracy, for example), but must understand Christ as the only salvation from wickedness and suffering. Taking into account the reality of human freedom, he then addresses the standard argument:How can a just God and the injustice of the world coexist?
His answers are often surprising, always rooted in biblical thinking and Scripture, and written on a level that is at once intellectually stimulating and popular enough to be understood. Evil and its effects are all around us—have been since Eden—and it is essential for Christians to make sense of it without simply falling back on platitudes or blaming everything on "God's will"or "God's plan."Not only is this an excellent work of Christian philosophy, Wright's mastery of the language will surely make this a classic work far into the future.
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he's a husband and father who loves church, good food, and weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here
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