Essential Books on God & Suffering [Theodicy]

Article excerpt

Encountering Evil, a New Edition: Live Options in Theodicy, by Stephen T. Davis (Westminster John Knox). A stellar ensemble of thinkers, including John Hick, David Ray Griffin and John Cobb Jr., address the problem of how good and evil can coexist. Each chapter is followed by critical responses from the other contributors and then a rejoinder by the author. Sparks fly and issues are sharpened and clarified.

Theology and the Problem of Evil, by Kenneth Surin (Wipf and Stock). Surin rejects the customary framing of theodicy because it inescapably assumes a God defined by 17th- and 18th-century philosophical theism. Challenges to this God can provoke only defenses of that same deity, who is unknown to Christian faith. Instead, argues Surin, Christians have always walked by the light of "practical theodicies," contextualized ways of living and speaking that gesture not toward logical explanations for suffering but toward a living, incarnate God who suffers with us and ultimately saves us.

The Blood of the Lamb: A Novel, by Peter De Vries (University of Chicago Press). This powerful autobiographical novel tracks protagonist Don Wanderhope through a series of devastating, Jobian personal losses, most painfully the death of his beloved If-year-old daughter, Carol, from leukemia. Through the voice of Wanderhope, De Vries cries out in anguish, rages at God and moves not toward serene comfort but toward an experience of the divine "throb of compassion. …