Last Updated on October 2, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 295
John Hick's Evil and the God of Love is one of the most powerful assessments of the problem of suffering and evil in the Christian worldview that exists today. Hicks wrote the book in the mid-1960s after grappling for the vast majority of his life and career with the teachings of Immanuel Kant, as well as the general and obvious problem of evil in the world at large.
Hick's own philosophy allows for a relativistic view of the Bible and world religions, as opposed to the more limited, exclusivist view that most evangelical Christians accept. Hicks believes wholeheartedly in the idea of universalism, which is the concept that all moral and religious avenues are paths to God and to eventual paradise in heaven with him. It is unique that someone who holds a relativistic view of the spiritual world would try to defend so adamantly the God of Christianity; after all, it seems easier to turn to another religion that may be equally true under his own beliefs, thus excluding the possibility of an all-powerful and yet totally benevolent God.
Conversely, this allows his theodicy the room to breathe a little more freely. Some critics argue against Hick's ideas, particularly in light of the widespread calamity of sin and suffering, but the opinion that all may come to eternal life through suffering on Earth gave rise to Hick's most convincing arguments in the book, which are still applicable to the Christian perspective in their own right. He believes that suffering was intentionally allowed by God because it acts as the smelting forge to purify human souls so they may become like Christ. In his opinion, this means that all humans may endure suffering, thereby becoming more like Christ and eventually gaining entrance into heaven.