Evil and the God of Love

by John Hick

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Last Updated September 6, 2023.

In Evil and the God of Love, John Hick states that the question of evil arises only if one believes in God. One way of looking at the existence of evil is to believe that God allows evil to exist so that a higher purpose may be achieved. Hick begins by exploring the early roots of theodicy by considering the works of Augustine of Hippo. Augustine’s explanation that evil is present in the absence of good continues to guide the position of the church on the question of good and evil. Hick contends that free choice exists because of evil. In the absence of evil, there would be no relative “good” to choose.

Hick takes up Barth’s idea of the power of nothingness and tends to agree with the latter’s contention that sin is the chief expression of enmity with God. Hick feels that philosophers of the eighteenth century took forward the Augustinian thoughts on theodicy and proposed that evil ultimately serves a larger good.

Hick examines how the reformist thought during the medieval period accepted the theological thought of Augustine but questioned the philosophical works of the author. By the time of the Enlightenment, Augustine’s philosophical thoughts regained currency, while his theological musings were under scrutiny.

Hick explores Irenaean theodicy, which is considered representative of the Eastern Church. He opines that Irenaean theodicy is fundamentally the same as Augustinian theodicy. Hick touches upon the more recent teleological attempts at theodicy, but he disagrees with them, because the basic premise of this line of thought is derived from evolutionism and does not entertain the idea of Christ.

In this book, Hick makes a sincere attempt to understand Christian theodicy by reconciling facts and faith. He is not convinced by the arguments put forth in traditional theodicy and states that the story of man’s fall is mythology which early theologists took as history.

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