Reviews - What do customers think about Theology and the Problem of Evil?
A tour of theodicy options (as of 1986) Feb 26, 2010
Originally part of a series of books published presumably by Blackwell called Signposts in Theology. All titles are entitled "Theology and...something or other". The others in the series finish: ...Pluralism (Gavin D'Costa), ...Feminism (Daphne Hampson), ...Philosophy (by Ingolf Dalferth), and ...Politics (Duncan Forrester).
I learned of this book from the recommendation on the homepage for the Center of Theology and Philosophy at the University of Nottingham, of which the author is evidently a member. Having never read anything else by Professor Surin, I can hardly comment on his work as a whole. I found this book (originally published by Basil Blackwell, Ltd. in 1986 and reissued by Wipf and Stock in 2004) very enlightening as a brief taxonomy of the problems facing those wishing to "justify God's ways to (hu)man(s)", or otherwise enamored of theodicy. The traditional and (at the time of original publication) new options coming on the scene receive fair treatment, along with a brief presentation of several salient criticisms for each. As there was no preview available at the time of my purchase, I will provide one below:
Forward ix-xii Introduction 1 1. The Possibility of Theodicy: I 38 2. The Possibility of Theodicy: II 59 3. Theodicies with a 'Theoretical' Emphasis 70 4. Theodicies with a 'Practical' Emphasis 112 5. 'Taking Suffering Seriously' 142 6. 'Salvation Incarnate' 154 Bibliography 165 Index 177
The book is great for those interested in exploring the range of approaches to the problem of evil. It is philosophically sophisticated, but not too difficult for the average person with a cursory awareness of the history of philosophy to navigate (perhaps with a good dictionary of philosophy or encyclopedia nearby). You will not find here a defense of any denominational or pet-theological views (e.g. Calvinist, Thomist, etc.), but a balanced portrayal of 1) the 'problem(s) of evil' that lead humans to seek to take up the task of "justifying God's ways to men", 2) the most common attempts to accomplish this task, and 3) the strengths that recommend and the (primarily theological, though sometimes philosophical/moral) problems that remain despite the theodicists best efforts.