Samuel Wells Reviews Tom Wright’s Evil and the Justice of God

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Woody Allen famously pointed out that the problem is not that God doesn't exist, but that he is an underachiever. The philosophical tendency for at least the past three centuries has been to assume that the human estimation of God is more significant than the divine estimation of humanity. And "evil" names the extent to which, in human estimation, God's purposes have invariably been found wanting.

In a lucid treatment of this perennial conundrum, N. T. Wright argues that pondering the "problem of evil" is an activity that displaces us from the business of implementing the healing, restorative justice of God. The problem of evil is philosophically located in theoretical analysis of an inherently distant God—that is, the deist God of the Enlightenment. By contrast, Wright engages with the scriptural God, revealed through narrative rather than theory and addressed through lament, obedience, discipleship and faith rather than through dispassionate analysis—in short, the God of Jesus Christ. Christ's death and resurrection, the promise and embodiment of forgiveness, and the hope of God's final victory make the people of God a people who bring into the present a reconciliation that is assured in the future.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Theology

Posted August 28, 2007 at 7:11 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. Philip Snyder wrote:

I read this book twice and have taught a class on it for our adult Sunday School this summer.  I highly recommend it for all Christians.  While I think +Wright gives too shallow a treatment to “natural evil” (earthquakes, hurricains, and the like), he does treat “human” or “personal” evil very will. I may not agree with his conclusions, but I have to respect his thinking and his arguments.

Phil Snyder

August 28, 9:18 am | [comment link]
2. john scholasticus wrote:

# the reviewer and Phil Snyder.

I’ve read this book too (though not twice). I think it’s a characteristically weak performance, and weak precisely because Wright sees no need - doesn’t even begin to acknowledge the problem - to go beyond the Bible. Hence he has nothing whatever to say about inevitable, intrinsic evils (death, endless waste, natural disasters, etc. etc.). So far as I can recall, he doesn’t even mention evolution in this book - or, if he does, he completely fails to come to grips with its many disturbing implications - disturbing, that is, for bible-bound Christians such as himself. I cannot understand why anyone thinks that Wright is a serious theoligian. He is a traditional and very conservative biblical exegete - not the same thing at all.

August 28, 4:40 pm | [comment link]
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