evil and the justice of god

evil.jpgI suppose I wasn’t being fair to n.t. wright. Sorry, tom. I’ll admit, in hindsight, that I was approaching wright’s new book, evil and the justice of god, looking for a panacea. I wanted a simple thought or sentence or paragraph, or even a series of them, that would magically erase or answer all my struggles with the problem of evil. And, while the book has some really helpful stuff, it’s not the magic potion I was thirsting for.


Biggest surprise and disappointment: wright builds a case for, then repeats over and over again, the suggestion that we have no way of knowing – from scripture or experience – why evil exists and where it came from. He dismisses or dismantles many of our classical answers to this, but leaves us – leaves me – (and, to his credit, wright admits several times that this will be a disappointment to many readers) without an answer.

The bulk of the book, then, is about how evil is to be understood (not its origin, as I said) through scripture and in our present reality. He ends with two chapters on forgiveness (which, to be fully honest, seemed either a left turn, or a right turn, or, at least, a mile further down the road than the book title suggests).

It was a tough read for me on two levels:
1. I could tell fairly early on that the book wasn’t going to answer my questions in a way that was satisfactory. I think wright knows this, as he addresses it multiple times. It is what it is.
2. it was a tough read because it’s a tough read. I mean, it’s not volf, but it’s not ortberg either. I think I need a ‘wright for dummies’ version of the book.

4 thoughts on “evil and the justice of god”

  1. Anyone who could possibly think that there is an easy digestible pill for the problem of pain is just smokin’ something funny. It’s like trying to tell someone exactly what heaven will be like… sometimes words just get in the way. “Well johnny, you see God created the possibility for pain when he created adam and eve. They sinned and thus brought evil into the world. That started the whole chain reaction of pain. That’s why your mom is dying of colon cancer.” — It just doesn’t cut it… it never will… So Wright is right on in not trying to stick his foot in his mouth with easy answers.

  2. I hear you…I’m struggling through it now too. Not because I find the words on the page difficult to understand, but because of the unknowability of evil. Sigh.

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