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A Thesis Presented to the Faculty of Criswell College
In Fulfillment of the Requirements for RES 603
by Jared C. Wellman April 23, 2011
Copyright © 2011 Jared C. Wellman All rights reserved. Criswell College has permission to reproduce and disseminate this document in any form by any means for purposes chosen by the College, including, without limitation, preservation or instruction.
FAITHFULNESS AS A SOUL-MAKING THEODICY
Jared C. Wellman
_______________________________________________________ [Barry Creamer, Associate Professor of Humanities]
_______________________________________________________ [Joe Wooddell, Associate Professor of Philosophy]
ABSTRACT FAITHFULNESS AS A SOUL-MAKING THEODICY
This thesis argues that the virtue of faithfulness is a satisfactory contribution to the Soul-Making Theodicy. Faithfulness is best realized when it is directed to an everfaithful deity, who is also omnipotent and omnibenevolent. While John Hick is credited with the Soul-Making Theodicy, many of his philosophical and theological tenets are abandoned in order to develop a more Augustinian approach to the theodicy. Chapter 1 introduces the Soul-Making Theodicy and how it was developed in response to the problem of God and evil. Chapter 2 conveys various philosophical approaches to the problem of God and evil. These approaches are Alvin Plantinga’s Free Will Defense, St. Augustine’s Evil is a Privation of Good Theodicy, Gregory Boyd’s Trinitarian Warfare Theodicy, Gordon Clark’s Deterministic Defense, and John Hick’s Soul-Making Theodicy. These are offered after an explanation of the problem of evil as outlined by David Hume and William Rowe, who are the leading advocates to the Logical and Evidential problems of evil, respectively. Chapter 3 offers a rendering of John Hick’s Soul-Making Theodicy that questions his views on the Word of God, the image of God in man, and eschatology. Chapter 4 discusses the necessity of virtue in man, and observes the four cardinal virtues (temperance, courage, wisdom, and justice) and the three theological
virtues (faith, hope, and love). Faithfulness is proposed as a unique virtue that helps justify the problem of evil. Moreover, Augustine’s arguments concerning virtue are detailed as well as a brief overview of the book of Habakkuk and how it expresses the relationship between faithfulness and evil. Chapter 5 observes two of the apologetic arguments for the existence of God— the teleological and moral arguments. These arguments help support the notion that an omnipotent and omnibenevolent God exists. The Conclusion summarizes the overview of the argument proposed in this thesis, suggesting an Irenaean in terms of the Word of God, Augustine in terms of the image of God in man, and Clarkian in terms of free will, rendering of Hick’s SoulMaking Theodicy. The primary thrust of this work is to argue that the virtue of faithfulness is a satisfactory soul-making property that helps justify the existence of evil in a world created by an omnipotent and omnibenevolent God.
Jared Clent Wellman Criswell College, 2011
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Page LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ix PREFACE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . x Chapter 1. INTRODUCTION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 2. VARIOUS APPROACHES TO QUESTION OF GOD AND EVIL . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 The Case Against God’s Existence . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 Alvin Plantinga’s Free Will Defense . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 St. Augustine’s Evil is a Privation of God . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24 Gregory Boyd’s Trinitarian Warfare Theodicy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31 Gordon Clark’s Deterministic Approach . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34 John Hick’s Soul-Making Theodicy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38 3. A RENDERING OF HICK’S SOUL-MAKING THEODICY . . . . . . . . 43 An Irenaean View of the Word of God . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44 An Augustinian View of the Image of God . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49 Hick’s Eschatological View of Universal Salvation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58 4. FAITH AS A VIABLE SOUL-MAKING CHARACTERISTIC . . . . . . 63 The Four Cardinal Virtues . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63 The Three Theological Virtues . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 64
The Virtue of Faithfulness . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 65 5. THE EXISTENCE OF AN OMNIPOTENT AND OMNIBENEVOLENT GOD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70 The Teleological Argument . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70 The Moral Argument . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 72 6. AN OVERVIEW OF A RENDERED SOUL-MAKING THEODICY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 76 BIBLIOGRAPHY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 78
LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS
EPE LPE NASB NPNF
The Evidential Problem of Evil The Logical Problem of Evil New American Standard Bible Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers
My interest with the problem of God and evil started many years ago during my first philosophy course at the Criswell College. While I tarried to study philosophy, it was this course that propelled me into new and exciting ways of viewing the world. Dr. Joe Wooddell taught this class, and his passionate theological emphasis on what I once feared changed the way that I viewed philosophy forever. This newfound zeal was cultivated by the likes of Dr. R. Alan Streett and Dr. Barry Creamer, who taught me the need for theological philosophy in a skeptical, unbelieving world, and that Christian philosophy has a rational and reasonable place in the field. Throughout my continued studies, it became evident that the problem of God and evil was one of the most devastating attacks on Christianity, and I therefore wanted to provide satisfactory contributions to the topic. With this said, I am thankful to all of my professors at the Criswell College who helped me build a strong theological foundation by which I can properly do philosophy. I am also thankful to the three Southern Baptist Churches that I have had the honor of serving in—First Baptist Church of Gun Barrel City in Gun Barrel City, Texas, Powell Baptist Church in Powell, Texas, and the Carpenter’s Cross Baptist Church in Flint, Texas. My student pastor at First Baptist Gun Barrel City—Denilio Gorena—was a key individual who encouraged me to attend the Criswell College, and who taught me everything he knew about preaching the Gospel. The loving people at Powell Baptist
Church felt led to invest in my education, which has been a true blessing in my academic ministry, and the fellowship at Carpenter’s Cross Baptist Church has allowed me to continue my graduate studies as I served them as their pastor. I am most thankful to my wife Amanda, who has been the biggest supporter throughout my ministerial and academic tenures. I simply would not be where I am if she was not as loving, encouraging, and supportive as she is toward what the Lord has led me to do. Her parents—Jim and Karen Vess—have also been encouraging to the both of us as we pursue the Lord’s will in our lives. Finally, I continue to be amazed by the grace of God in my life. The psalmist’s declaration, “What is man that You take thought of him, and the son of man that You care for him?” (Psalm 8:4) continually resounds in my heart as I have the privilege of getting to know the Lord better each day. It is only by God’s love through His Son Jesus Christ that I press on. Jared C. Wellman Chandler, Texas April, 2011
Introduction In Religion, Reason and Revelation, Gordon Clark wrote, “In the background of every religious worldview there stands a frightening specter. An author may refrain from mentioning it; he may hope that his public will forget to think about it; but no position is complete and none can be unhesitatingly accepted until it makes a clear pronouncement on the problem of evil.”1 John Stott furthers this thought in writing, “The fact of suffering undoubtedly constitutes the single greatest challenge to the Christian faith, and has been in every generation. Its distribution and degree appear to be entirely random and therefore unfair. Sensitive spirits ask if it can possibly be reconciled with God’s justice and love.”2 “At some time or another, everyone wonders about the existence of evil and suffering in the world. Its presence has touched all, ravaged many, and perplexed thinking men throughout the ages.”3 Evil comes in various forms. The two most generally accepted forms are moral evil and natural evil. “Natural evils arise solely from nature: earthquakes, pestilence, famine, drought, flooding, mudslides, and hurricanes. Moral evils are due to the free choices of human beings and include, for example, war,
Gordon Clark, Religion, Reason, and Revelation (Hobbs: The Trinity Foundation, 1995), 194. John R. W. Stott, The Cross of Christ (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1986), 311. Norman Geisler, The Roots of Evil (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1978), 11.
2 poverty, and racism.”4 Both manifestations cause man to consider and give answer to the reality and purpose of evil in this world. These considerations and answers are what theologians and philosophers call theodicies—“[Answers] to the problem of evil that attempt to justify the ways of God to man by explaining God’s reasons for allowing evil.”5 Prima facie, the existence of evil seems to oppose the existence of an omnibenevolent and omnipotent God. This is why some consider the question of God and evil instead the problem of God and evil. “Any given argument becomes a problem when its premises are perceived to be plausible or true and the conclusion opposes one’s current position.”6 The question of evil therefore becomes a problem for the theist because “of its very strong support for an atheistic conclusion.”7 The eighteenth-century philosopher David Hume summarized this “problem” well in writing, “Is [God] willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then He is impotent. Is He able, but not willing? Then He is malevolent. Is He both willing and able? Whence then is evil?”8 Hume’s argument echoes the early writings of Epicurus who wrote, “Either God wants to abolish evil, and cannot; or he can, but does not want to; or he cannot and does not want to. If he wants to,
Kelly Clark, Richard Lints, and James K.A. Smith, 101 Key Terms in Philosophy and Their Importance for Theology (Louisville: John Knox Press, 2004), 25. Stephen Evans, Pocket Dictionary of Apologetics & Philosophy of Religion (Leicester: InterVarsity Press, 2002), 114. Michael Peterson, William Hasker, Bruce Reichenbach, and David Basinger, Philosophy of Religion : Selected Readings (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007), 289.
7 6 5
David Hume, Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, ed. Nelson Pike (New York: BobbsMerrill Co., Inc., 1970), pt. X, pp. 88, 91.
3 but cannot, he is impotent. If he can, and does not want to, he is wicked. But, if God both can and wants to abolish evil, then how comes evil in the world?”9 Throughout the last few centuries, many responses have been given to show that Hume’s argument is not necessarily satisfactory. “Two of the more important theodicies are the ‘soul-making theodicy,’ which argues that God allows evil so as to make it possible for humans to develop certain desirable virtues, and the ‘free will theodicy,’ which argues that God had to allow for the possibility of evil if he wished to give humans (and angelic beings) free will.”10 Other theodicies include the Trinitarian Warfare Theodicy, Evil is a Privation of Good Theodicy, and the Deterministic Theodicy. This thesis advances a rendering of the “soul-making theodicy” and attempts to answer the question as to whether or not it is it philosophically satisfying to suggest that being faithful to an ever-faithful God is an adequate contribution to the problem of God and evil. John Hick is credited with the concept of the Soul-Making Theodicy and therefore his development of the argument will be evaluated. Its strengths and weaknesses will be examined both philosophically and theologically. The theological attribute known as faithfulness will be researched on both a theistic and humanistic level in order to determine whether or not it is a worthwhile virtue that contributes to the soulmaking theodicy. A distinction will be made on how this virtue of faithfulness is best realized when it appropriated to an omnipotent and omnibenevolent God who is ever-
Epicurus, as quoted in 2000 Years of Disbelief. Epicurus himself did not leave any written form of this argument. It can be found in Christian theologian Lactantius's Treatise on the Anger of God where Lactantius critiques the argument. Epicurus's argument as presented by Lactantius actually argues that a god that is all-powerful and all-good does not exist and that the gods are distant and uninvolved with man's concerns. The gods are neither our friends nor enemies. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Problem_of_evil#Epicurus) C. Stephen Evans, Pocket Dictionary of Apologetics & Philosophy of Religion (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2002), 114.
4 faithful. This will moreover be supported by a defense of the teleological and moral arguments for the existence of God. The biblical book of Habakkuk will also be utilized to enhance the discussion of biblical faithfulness. This thesis will be an applicative contribution to everyone who has ever struggled with the problem of God and evil.
Various Responses to the Question of God and Evil In the film Shutter Island, the following conversation takes place between the warden and Teddy Daniels after a terrible storm ambushed the island: Warden: Did you enjoy God's latest gift? Teddy Daniels: What? Warden: God's gift. Your violence. [Daniels looks at him blankly] Warden: When I came downstairs in my home, and I saw that tree in my living room, it reached out for me... a divine hand. God loves violence. Teddy Daniels: I... I hadn't noticed. Warden: Sure you have. Why else would there be so much of it? It's in us. It's what we are. We wage war, we burn sacrifices, and pillage and plunder and tear at the flesh of our brothers. And why? Because God gave us violence to wage in his honor. Teddy Daniels: I thought God gave us moral order. Warden: There's no moral order as pure as this storm. There's no moral order at all. There's just this: can my violence conquer yours?11 This dialogue displays the various conclusions that can be made when dealing with the question of evil and how it relates to God. The warden acknowledged God, but said that He was evil. Daniels also acknowledged God, but said that He provided moral order. The same variety of answers is seen in Albert Camus’ book The Plague, where the reader is confronted with the problem of God and evil through the character Paneloux, the priest of the village. As the community is overpowered by the plague, Paneloux is forced to make a critical philosophical decision. He must either “have faith that God will bring good out of the evil situation, or he must stand with Dr. Rieuc and Tarrou and
Quote derived from the 2010 film, Shutter Island as listed on the Internet Movie Database: http://www.imdb.com/character/ch0094019/quotes
6 condemn the evil situation as unbearable and unredeemable. To them, the situation declares either that there is no God, and man is left to struggle in futility or that there is a God, but He is the supreme, evil enemy of man.”12 Films and novels are just two of culture’s ways of relating the struggles and confusion surrounding the question of God and evil. These dialogues furthermore convey the notion that the question of God and evil is, as detailed earlier, more befittingly considered a “problem.” As previously noted, “Any given argument becomes a problem when its premises are perceived to be plausible or true and the conclusion opposes one’s current position.” In this sense, the question of God and evil seemingly becomes a problem for the theist because of its alleged strong support for an atheistic conclusion. It is in this respect that many have developed an argument to deny the problem as being such.13 Philosophers deem these arguments either defenses or theodicies. “Theodicies are often distinguished from defenses, which argue that it is reasonable to believe that God has reasons for allowing evil even if we do not know what those reasons are.”14 It is not illogical in this respect, however, to accept and purport both a theodicy and defense to answer the problem of God and evil. It is important to note that there are two generally accepted assertions for the problem of God and evil—the Logical Problem of Evil15 (LPE hereafter) and the
Norman Geisler, The Roots of Evil (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1978), 11.
Alvin Plantinga, for example, distinguishes the argument as the “sol-called problem of evil.” Alvin Plantinga, God, Freedom, and Evil (New York: Harper & Row Publishers, 1974), 7. C. Stephen Evans, Pocket Dictionary of Apologetics & Philosophy of Religion (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2002), 114.
Also known as the deductive argument from evil.
7 Evidential Problem of Evil16 (EPE hereafter). LPE asks, “Is the existence of God and evil logically compatible?” “Some atheists have claimed that God and evil are logically incompatible, just as Rufus is a dog and Rufus is not a dog are logically incompatible. Exactly one must be true; they cannot both be true.”17 EPE, as developed by William Rowe, “envisions a hypothetical case of natural evil not brought about by misuse of human or angelic freedom.”18 Ed Hindson and Ergun Caner have illustrated this argument in the following example: “Lightning causes a forest fire. An escaping fawn is trapped by falling trees and, after much intense suffering, the fawn dies.”19 The argument suggests that the fawn’s suffering is gratuitous, and that no greater good or justifiable purpose was served. Both LPE and EPE present a seemingly difficult problem for the theist. Since LPE, however, “alleges that theism is inconsistent, it is properly defended simply by a proof that it is not inconsistent.”20 Alvin Plantinga’s God, Freedom, and Evil is arguably the most renowned work on providing a logically consistent defense against LPE. Concerning EPE, several responses have been given which include Paul Draper’s argument that the good that we know is not representative of all possible good, Stephen Wykstra’s argument that things are not always as they appear, attacking EPE’s claim that while the fawn’s death may have appeared gratuitous it doesn’t necessarily entail that it
Also known as the inductive argument from evil. Ed Hindson and Ergun Caner, The Popular Encyclopedia of Apologetics (Eugene: Harvest
House Publishers, 2008), 211.
Ibid. Ibid., 212.
Michael Peterson, William Hasker, Bruce Reichenbach, and David Basinger, Philosophy of Religion : Selected Readings (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007), 290.
8 was, and Michael Peterson’s argument that denies EPE’s second premise, which states that “If God existed, then there would be no gratuitous evils.”21 Peterson argues that “It is possible that God, in creating a world suitable for humans to achieve moral growth of their own making, must create a world where evils sometimes happen that are never directly ‘redeemed.’22 It is in this respect that a Soul-Making Theodicy is helpful. In the proper understanding, a Soul-Making Theodicy contributes to both LPE and EPE, especially when that soul-making property is faithfulness to an ever-faithful Deity. With respect to LPE, the virtue of faithfulness in man is arguably a justifiable reason for many accounts of evil. Regarding EPE, obtaining the virtue of faithfulness hinders its premise that “if God exists, then there would be no gratuitous evils,” for it is not unreasonable to suggest that gratuitous evils are a necessary by-product of God’s greater good in man, even if it is not necessarily ascertainable. This chapter discusses five of the most well-known arguments against the problem of God and evil—the LPE and EPE—and evaluates their strengths and weaknesses. While there are many credible contributions to the question of God and evil, a concentration is placed on the Soul-Making Theodicy as a satisfying contribution to the subject. The arguments presented in the following are (1) Alvin Plantinga’s Free Will Defense, (2) Augustine’s Evil is a Privation of Good Theodicy, (3) Gregory Boyd’s Trinitarian Warfare Theodicy, (4) Gordon Clark’s Deterministic Defense, and (5) John Hick’s Soul-Making Theodicy. David Hume and William Rowe’s formation of the problem will first be detailed in order to enhance the understanding of these responses.
Ed Hindson and Ergun Caner, The Popular Encyclopedia of Apologetics (Eugene: Harvest House Publishers, 2008), 213.
The Case Against God’s Existence – David Hume and William Rowe As already noted, David Hume is arguably the most renowned advocate for the logical problem of evil. Hume outlined his argument in his book Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, which “is applauded as the most sophisticated and elegant philosophical dialogue written in English.”23 There are three principal speakers in Hume’s Dialogues: Demea, Cleanthes, and Philo. “Demea, something of a dogmatist, defends the existence of God on a priori grounds and, in that regard, follows Leibniz. Cleanthes believes that experience provides evidence for the existence of a deity who is immensely powerful and benevolent. Philo, probably Hume’s protagonist, is a skeptic who attempts to rebut arguments from reason and experience.”24 The following is an excerpt from Hume’s Dialogues cataloguing evil: But through these external insults, said Demea, from animals, from men, from all the elements, which assault us form a frightful catalogue of woes, they are nothing in comparison of those which arise within ourselves, from the distempered condition of our mind and body. How many lie under the lingering torment of diseases? Hear the pathetic enumeration of the great poet. Intestine stone and ulcer, colic-pangs, Demoniac frenzy, moping melancholy, And moon-struck madness, pining atrophy, Marasmus, and wide-wasting pestilence. Dire was the tossing, deep the groans: Despair Tended the sick, busiest from couch to couch. And over them triumphant Death his dart Shook: but delay’d to strike, though oft invok’d With vows, as their chief good and final hope. The disorders of the mind, continued Demea, though more secret, are not perhaps less dismal and vexatious. Remorse, shame, anguish, rage disappointment, anxiety,
Michael Peterson, William Hasker, Bruce Reichenbach, and David Basinger, Philosophy of Religion : Selected Readings (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007), 296.
10 fear, dejection, despair—who has ever passed through life without cruel inroads from these tormentors? How many have scarcely ever felt any better sensations? Labor and poverty, so abhorred by everyone, are the certain lot of the far greater number; and those few privileged persons who enjoy ease and opulence never reach contentment or true felicity. All the goods of life united would not make a very happy man, but all the ills united would make a wretch indeed; and any one of them almost (and who can be free from every one), nay, often the absence of one good (and who can possess all) is sufficient to render life ineligible.25 While this excerpt details tenets of natural evil, Plantinga recognizes the other generally accepted category of evil—moral evil—in writing, “In addition to ‘natural’ evils such as earthquakes, tidal waves, and virulent diseases there are evils that result from human stupidity, arrogance, and cruelty.”26 In God, Freedom, and Evil, Plantinga shares a passage from Fyodor Dostoevski’s The Brothers Karamazov that describes this type of evil in detail: A Bulgarian I met lately in Moscow,” Ivan went on, seeming not to hear his brother’s words, “told me about the crimes committed by Turks and Circassians in all parts of Bulgaria through fear of a general rising of the Slavs. They burn villages, murder, outrage women and children, they nail their prisoners by the ears to the fences, leave them so till morning, and in the morning they hang them—all sorts of things you can’t imagine. People talk sometimes of bestial cruelty, but that’s a great injustice and insult to the beasts; a beast can never be so cruel as a man, so artistically cruel. The tiger only tears and gnaws, that’s all he can do. He would never think of nailing people by the ears, even if he were able to do it. These Turks took a pleasure in torturing children, too; cutting the unborn child from the mother’s womb, and tossing babies up in the air and catching them on the points of their bayonets before their mother’s eyes. Doing it before the mother’s eyes was what gave zest to the amusement. Here is another scene that I though very interesting. Imagine a trembling mother with her baby in her arms, a circle of invading Turks around her. They’ve planned a diversion; they pet the baby, laugh to make it laugh. They succeed, the baby laughs. At that moment a Turk points a pistol four inches from the baby’s face. The baby laughs with glee, holds out his little hands to the
David Hume, Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, ed. Nelson Pike (New York: BobbsMerrill Co., Inc., 1970), pt. X, pp.84-85. Plantinga notes that the “great poet” referred to is John Milton, and the quotation is from Paradise Lost, bk. XI. Alvin Plantinga, God, Freedom, and Evil (New York: Harper & Row, 1974), 8 (footnote).
Alvin Plantinga, God, Freedom, and Evil (New York: Harper & Row, 1974), 8.
11 pistol, and he pulls the trigger in the baby’s face and blows out its brains. Artistic, wasn’t it? By the way, Turks are particularly fond of sweet things, they say.27 Hume’s Dialogues and Dostoevski’s The Brothers Karamazov both express the real evil present in the world. Plantinga asserted the atheologian’s concerns regarding this evil in writing, “If God is as benevolent as Christian theists claim, He must be just as appalled as we are at all this evil. But if He is also as powerful as they claim, then presumably He is in a position to do something about it. So why does He permit it? Why doesn’t He arrange things so that these evils don’t occur? That should have been easy enough for one as powerful as He.”28 Hume has related the question in this way: “Is he willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is impotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Whence then is evil?”29 Hume furthermore has written, “Why is there any misery at all in the world? Not by chance, surely. From some cause, then. It is from the intention of the deity? But he is perfectly benevolent. Is it contrary to his intention? But he is almighty. Nothing can shake the solidity of this reasoning, so short, so clear, so decisive…”30 At this point, it is evident that Hume insists on the question: “If God is perfectly benevolent and also omnipotent, or almighty, why is there any evil in the world? Why does he permit it?”31 In a propositional sense, the argument is stated as follows:
Fyodor Dostoevski, The Brothers Karamazon, trans. Constance Garnett (New York: Random House, 1933), 245-246.
Alvin Plantinga, God, Freedom, and Evil (New York: Harper & Row, 1974), 9.
David Hume, Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, ed. Nelson Pike (New York: BobbsMerrill Co., Inc., 1970), pt. X, pp. 88.
Ibid., 91. Plantinga, God, Freedom, and Evil, 10.
12 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. God is omnipotent and wholly good. God is omnipotent, God can eliminate evil. If God is wholly good, God would want to eliminate evil. There is evil. Therefore, God does not exist.32 This is the deductive, logical problem of evil. In this context, Hume “maintains that the existence of evil per se is logically inconsistent with the existence of a good, omnipotent, omniscient God.”33 The atheologian J. L. Mackie advanced Hume’s argument. According to Mackie, “it is not possible both that God is omnipotent and that he was unable to create a universe containing moral good but no moral evil.” He has written, I think, however, that a more telling criticism can be made by way of the traditional problem of evil. Here it can be shown not that religious beliefs lack rational support, but that they are positively irrational, that the several parts of the essential theological doctrine are inconsistent with one another…34 While David Hume is arguably the most renowned advocate of LPE, William Rowe has been cited as the same for EPE. An apologetic encyclopedia has noted, “The evidential argument from evil has been most powerfully and succinctly stated by William Rowe.”35 Rowe calls EPE “the form of the problem which holds that the variety and profusion of evil in our world, although perhaps not logically inconsistent with the existence of [God], provides, nevertheless, rational support for the belief that the theistic
Kelly James Clark, Richard Lints, and James K. A. Smith, 101 Key Terms in Philosophy and their Importance for Theology (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2004), 25.
Bruce Reichenbach, Evil and a Good God (New York: Fordham University Press, 1982), 1.
J. L. Mackie, “Evil and Omnipotence,” Mind 64, No. 254 (1955), reprinted in Nelson Pike, ed., God and Evil (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1964) p.46.
Ed Hindson and Ergun Caner, The Popular Encyclopedia of Apologetics (Eugene: Harvest
House Publishers, 2008), 212.
13 God does not exist.”36 The philosopher Bruce Reichenbach has summarized Rowe’s claim in this way: “the pain and suffering which occur in our world make it unlikely or improbable that a God who is good, omnipotent, omniscient, loving, and personal exists.”37 Interestingly, Hume—perhaps realizing the inconsistency in LPE—also defended EPE in writing, …[A]s [God’s] goodness is not antecedently established, but must be inferred from the phenomena, there can be no grounds for such an inference, while there are so many ills in the universe, and while these ills might so easily have been remedied…The bad appearances…may be compatible with such attributes as you suppose. But surely they can never prove these attributes…However consistent the world may be…with the idea of such a Deity, it can never afford us an inference concerning his existence. The consistency is not absolutely denied, only the inference.38 Understanding Hume’s LPE and Rowe’s EPE, the five aforementioned theodicies and defenses can now be properly detailed.
The Free Will Defense – Alvin Plantinga Born in 1932, Alvin Plantinga is arguably the “leading contemporary philosopher of religion and developer of Reformed Epistemology.”39 Plantinga has “criticized evidentialism in philosophy of religion by arguing that religious beliefs in some cases may be ‘properly basic.’”40 This view is supported by an epistemology that “sees knowledge as consisting of true beliefs that are the result of properly functioning
William Rowe, Philosophy of Religion (Encino: Dickenson, 1978), 86. Bruce Reichenbach, Evil and a Good God (New York: Fordham University Press, 1982), 25. David Hume, Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion (New York: Hafner, 1948), 78, 73.
C. Stephen Evans, Pocket Dictionary of Apologetics & Philosophy of Religion (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2002), 93. Evans also includes Nicholas Wolterstorff and William Alston.
14 faculties, operating according to their ‘design plan’ in a way that is directed at truth, in the kind of environment in which they were intended to function.”41 According to Plantinga, belief in God may be “properly basic” and does not have to be based on evidence. This is important because it is this interpretation of epistemology that breeds Plantinga’s Free Will Defense against the problem of evil. While philosophers like Hume, Mackie, and Rowe attempt to logically and evidentially disprove the existence of God, Plantinga’s belief in God is properly basic, and therefore his arguments follow in this fashion. Plantinga’s Free Will Defense was inspired by J. L. Mackie’s “basic contention that it is not possible both that God is omnipotent and that he was unable to create a universe containing moral good but no moral evil.”42 In Plantinga’s argument, “God actualizes a world that contains free creatures who sometimes choose good and sometimes evil.”43 Plantinga claims to have shown that it is logically possible for God to and evil to coexist. Mackie detailed what he saw as a logical inconsistency with God and evil in his piece “Evil and Omnipotence:” I think, however, that a more telling criticism can be made by way of the traditional problem of evil. Here it can be shown, not that religious beliefs lack rational support, but that they are positively irrational, that the several parts of the essential theological doctrine are inconsistent with one another.44
Michael Peterson, William Hasker, Bruce Reichenbach, and David Basinger, Philosophy of Religion : Selected Readings (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007), 315. John Mackie, “Evil and Omnipotence,” in The Philosophy of Religion, ed. Basil Mitchell (London: Oxford University Press, 1971), 92.
15 Mackie moreover wrote, In its simplest form the problem is this: God is omnipotent; God is wholly good; yet evil exists. There seems to be some contradiction between these three propositions, so that if any two of them were true the third would be false. But at the same time all three are essential parts of most theological positions; the theologian, it seems, at once must adhere and cannot consistently adhere to all three.45 To this, Plantinga asks, “Is Mackie right? Does the theist contradict himself?”46 Plantinga then proceeds to offer the Free Will Defense, in which he shows that, “using the concept of free will in humans and angels, God and evil are logically compatible (that is, they could both exist without incompatibility).”47 In short, Plantinga claimed the following: If God creates human beings with true, morally significant free will (where humans can freely decide to act in ways that really do advance goodness in the world, or really do cause evil in the world against self, others, or world), and if God wants a world in which there are significant amounts of (angel—or human—originated) moral goodness, it’s possible that God cannot get that kind of world without significant amounts of moral badness as well. After all, if people are left free by God, then the morally significant states of the world will in large part be up to the decisions of humans (and angels), not up to God.48 Plantinga seems to be arguing that evil is the result of God choosing to create a world in which man is significantly free, and in this freedom, man is free to choose good or evil. Therefore, it doesn’t necessarily follow that God is not omnipotent, for He sovereignly chose to create a significantly free world that included the possibility of evil. It moreover doesn’t follow that God is malevolent, for He is not the one performing the evil, and a world with freedom still includes good, even if evil is possible. Concerning
Michael Peterson, William Hasker, Bruce Reichenbach, and David Basinger, Philosophy of Religion : Selected Readings (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007), 315.
Ed Hindson and Ergun Caner, The Popular Encyclopedia of Apologetics (Eugene: Harvest
House Publishers, 2008), 211.
16 this, Peter Kreeft and Ronald Tacelli have written, “Evil’s source is not God’s power but man’s freedom. A world without human freedom is a world without humans, a world without hate but also without love.”49 Plantinga’s argument suggests that God’s decision to create man inherently included a true, moral, and significant free will. While this freedom produces significant moral goodness, it also includes the possibility of evil, and it is logically possible that God cannot get a world of significant amounts of goodness without the possibility of significant amounts of badness. This is why Plantinga’s argument is considered a defense as opposed to a theodicy, for he gives not a “why” to the problem of evil, but a “how.” Plantinga has written that the crucial question for the Free Will Defense is, “Was it within God’s power to create any possible world He pleased?”50 He ultimately argues that it wasn’t, and moreover calls the notion that He could have “Leibniz’ Lapse.”51 Mackie—perhaps unknowingly—purported the “Lapse” in writing, If God has made men such that in their free choices they sometimes prefer what is good and sometimes what is evil, why could he not have made men such that they always freely choose the good? If there is no logical impossibility in a man’s freely choosing the good on one, or on several occasions, there cannot be a logical impossibility in his freely choosing the good on every occasion. God was not, then, faced with a choice between making innocent automata and making beings who, in acting freely, would sometimes go wrong; there was open to him the obviously better possibility of making beings who would act freely but always go right. Clearly, his failure to avail himself of this possibility is inconsistent with his being both omnipotent and wholly good.52
Peter Kreeft and Ronald Tacelli, Pocket Handbook of Christian Apologetics (Downers Grover: InterVarsity Press, 2003), 51. Michael Peterson, William Hasker, Bruce Reichenbach, and David Basinger, Philosophy of Religion : Selected Readings (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007), 330. Ibid., 337. C. Stephen Evans notes that “Leibniz is usually credited with first using the concept of a possible world.” C. Stephen Evans, Pocket Dictionary of Apologetics & Philosophy of Religion (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2002), 94.
52 51 50 49
At this juncture, a sensible question is: what is a possible world? Plantinga defines the idea in writing, “a possible world is a way things could have been; it is a state of affairs of some kind.”53 C. Stephen Evans has written that it is a set of ways that the “actual world could have been. In the actual world I have brown hair, but perhaps there is a possible world in which I have blond hair.”54 According to Plantinga, God was not free to create any possible world He pleased. This, however, does not diminish His omnipotence because His creation of freedom is an exercise of His omnibenevolence. That is, significant freedom is a good thing. He writes, “It was not within God’s power to create a world in which [an individual] produces moral good but no moral evil. Every world God can actualize is such that if [an individual] is significantly free in it, he takes at least one wrong action.” Plantinga’s argument here is essentially the same as suggesting that because there are things that God cannot do, it doesn’t necessarily entail that He is less omnipotent. For example, Titus 1:2 states that “God cannot lie.” Not having the ability to lie doesn’t diminish God’s omnipotence, however. Instead, it enhances His character of being God. Plantinga’s argument claims that God’s actualizing of a world that includes significant freedom is the best way to express His omnipotence and omnibenevolence, even if that significant freedom holds the potential of breeding evil. Plantinga’s argument has been widely accepted among philosophers—theistic and atheistic—and many have even abandoned LPE because of it. Ergun Caner and Ed Hindson have noted, for example, that “Plantinga’s free will defense is brilliantly
C. Stephen Evans, Pocket Dictionary of Apologetics & Philosophy of Religion (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2002), 94.
18 conceived and successfully destroys Mackie’s LPE.”55 Others have written, “Alvin Plantinga’s free will defense shows that the deductive argument from evil is fallacious. Most atheists have conceded the success of Plantinga’s refutation of the deductive argument from evil and have shifted their arguments.”56 Plantinga’s Free Will Defense is sound, but it has still been met with several kinds of objections. For example, some philosophers say that causal determinism and freedom are not really incompatible.57 Causal determinism “is the idea that every event is necessitated by antecedent events and conditions together with the laws of nature.”58 Plantinga has responded to this objection in writing, But if so, then God could have created free creatures who were free, and free to do what is wrong, but nevertheless were causally determined to do only what is right. Thus He could have created creatures who were free to do what was wrong, while nevertheless preventing them from ever performing any wrong actions—simply by seeing to it that they were causally determined to do only what is right. Of course this contradicts the Free Will Defense, according to which there is inconsistency in supposing that God determines free creatures to do only what is right.59
55 Michael Peterson, William Hasker, Bruce Reichenbach, and David Basinger, Philosophy of Religion : Selected Readings (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007), 330.
Kelly James Clark, Richard Lints, and James K. A. Smith, 101 Key Terms in Philosophy and their Importance for Theology (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2004), 25. See, for example, A. Flew, “Divine Omnipotence and Human Freedom,” in New Essays in Philosophical Theology, eds. A. Flew and A. MacIntyre (London: SCM, 1955), pp.150-153. The online Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/determinism-causal/ Michael Peterson, William Hasker, Bruce Reichenbach, and David Basinger, Philosophy of Religion : Selected Readings, 328.
59 58 57
19 He has moreover written that this objection is “utterly implausible. One might as well claim that being in jail doesn’t really limit one’s freedom on the grounds that if one were not in jail, he’d be free to come and go as he pleased.”60 A second, more formidable, objection suggests that, according to Plantinga, “it is possible to do only what is right, even if one is free to do wrong.”61 Plantinga outlines the objection, It is possible, in that broadly logical sense, that there would be a world containing free creatures who always do what is right. There is certainly no contradiction or inconsistency in this idea. But God is omnipotent; his power has no nonlogical limitations. So if it’s possible that there be a world containing creatures who are free to do what is wrong but never in fact do so, then it follows that an omnipotent God could create such a world. If so, however, the Free Will Defense must be mistaken in its insistence upon the possibility that God is omnipotent but unable to create a world containing moral good without permitting moral evil.62 J. L. Mackie purported this objection in writing, If God has made men such that in their free choices they sometimes prefer what is good and sometimes what is evil, why could he not have made men such that they always freely choose the good? If there is no logical impossibility in his freely choosing the good on every occasion. God was not, then, faced with a choice between making innocent automata and making beings who, in acting freely, would sometimes go wrong; there was open to him the obviously better possibility of making beings who would act freely but always go right. Clearly, his failure to avail himself of this possibility is inconsistent with his being both omnipotent and wholly good.63 This objection essentially suggests that, according to the Free Will Defense, “it is possible both that God is omnipotent and that He was unable to create a world
Ibid., 329. For further discussion of Plantinga’s defense of this objection see his book, God and Other Minds, pp.132-135.
Ibid., 329. Ibid., 329.
J. L. Mackie, ed. Basil Mitchell, The Philosophy of Religion (London: Oxford University Press, 1971), 100-1.
20 containing moral good without creating one containing moral evil.”64 The limitation on God’s power to create is inconsistent with God’s omnipotence. Plantinga notes that for Mackie, “surely it’s possible that there be a world containing perfectly virtuous persons—persons who are significantly free but always do what is right. Surely there are possible worlds that contain moral good but no moral evil.”65 Mackie argues that if God is truly omnipotent, then it follows that He had the power to create any possible world that He chose. “So,” Mackie argues, “it is not possible, contrary to the Free Will Defense, both that God is omnipotent and that he could create a world containing moral good only by creating one containing more evil.”66 If God is omnipotent, the only limitations of His power are “logical limitations, in which case there are no possible worlds He could not have created.”67 According to G. W. Leibniz—the founder of the possible worlds theory—this world, the actual world, must be the best of all possible worlds. Plantinga details Leibniz’ argument in writing, Before God created anything at all, He was confronted with an enormous range of choices; He could create or bring into actuality any of the myriads of different possible worlds. Being perfectly good, He must have chosen to create the best world He could; being omnipotent, He was able to create any possible world He pleased. He must, therefore, have chosen the best of all possible worlds; and hence this world, the one he did create, must be the best possible.68
Michael Peterson, William Hasker, Bruce Reichenbach, and David Basinger, Philosophy of Religion : Selected Readings (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007), 329.
Ibid. Ibid. Ibid. Ibid., 330.
21 Interestingly, while Leibniz concluded that his theory supported the idea of an omnipotent and omnibenevolent God, Mackie, by the same theory, concluded instead that there is no omnipotent, wholly good God. For Mackie, this simply cannot be the best of all possible worlds, evidentially and logically. As noted earlier, this is what Plantinga has deemed “Leibniz’ Lapse.” In this regard, Plantinga disagrees with both Leibniz and Mackie. “In the first place,” Plantinga notes, “what is the reason for supposing that there is such a thing as the best of all possible worlds? No matter how marvelous a world is, isn’t it possible that there be an ever better [one]?”69 The unique characteristic and central to the Free Will Defense is the claim that “God, though omnipotent, could not have actualized just any possible world he pleased.”70 That is, the ability to not actualize any possible world does not diminish God’s omnipotence, in the same way not being able to do anything He pleases (i.e., lie), doesn’t diminish His omnipotence. Kreeft and Tacelli describe this argument well in the following: Even omnipotence could not have created a world in which there was genuine human freedom and yet no possibility of sin, for our freedom includes the possibility of sin within its own meaning. “All things are possible with God” indeed; but a meaningless self-contradiction is not anything at all. One such meaningless self-contradiction is a world in which there is real free choice—that is, the possibility of freely choosing good or evil—and at the same time no possibility of choosing evil. To ask why God didn’t create such a world is like asking why God didn’t create colorless color or round squares. Thus, even an omnipotent God cannot forcibly prevent sin without removing our freedom. This “cannot” does not mean that his power meets some obstacle outside himself.71
Peter Kreeft and Ronald Tacelli, Pocket Handbook of Christian Apologetics (Downers Grover: InterVarsity Press, 2003), 51-2.
22 Kreeft has moreover noted, “The point to remember is that creating a world where there’s free will and no possibility of sin is a self-contradiction—and that opens the door to people choosing evil over God, with suffering being the result.”72 C. S. Lewis summarizes this thought well in writing, “nonsense does not cease to be nonsense when we add the words ‘God can’ before it.”73 A third objection examines the foundational idea of the possible world theory and the seemingly deterministic tenets of the actualization of a world therein. As noted earlier, Plantinga has defined a possible world as “a way things could have been; it is a state of affairs of some kind.”74 It is obvious that Plantinga is not concerned necessarily with the “best possible world,” because it seems that he is not convinced that one exists. He again has written, “”what is the reason for supposing that there is such a thing as the best of all possible worlds?”75 Instead, he is concerned with significant free will, and the thought that it is not illogical to consider that God, in His omnipotence, actualized a world that includes it. But if a possible world is defined as “a way things could have been,” it seems reasonable to consider that these “ways” are somewhat predetermined. As C. Stephen Evans has noted, a possible world is a set of “ways the actual world could have been. In the actual world I have brown hair, but perhaps there is a possible world in
Lee Strobel, The Case for Faith (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000), 38.
Peter Kreeft and Ronald Tacelli, Pocket Handbook of Christian Apologetics (Downers Grover: InterVarsity Press, 2003), 52. Michael Peterson, William Hasker, Bruce Reichenbach, and David Basinger, Philosophy of Religion : Selected Readings (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007), 330.
23 which I have blond hair.”76 For an argument that purports significant free will, it seems at least initially plausible to consider that this free will is deterministically set. If in possible world A for example, John Smith, while sitting at the ice cream parlor, chooses chocolate ice cream over vanilla ice cream, and in possible world B chooses vanilla ice cream over chocolate ice cream, it seems like this “set of ways that the world could have been” are not necessarily free at all, but instead determined when the possible world becomes actual. That is, when God in His omnipotence actualized one possible world over another, even if that world included significant freedom, it seems reasonable to suggest that the “set of ways” is somewhat determined. A good example of this assertion is seen in Scripture in the prophecy that Judas Iscariot would betray Jesus Christ. The psalmist wrote in Psalm 41:9, “Even my close friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.”77 This verse is realized in Luke 22:21-22 when Jesus said, “But behold, the hand of the one betraying Me is with Mine on the table. For indeed, the Son of Man is going as it has been determined; but woe to that man by whom He is betrayed!” Luke 22:47-48 details the events of the actual betrayal which says, “While He was still speaking, behold, a crowd came, and the one called Judas, one of the twelve, was preceding them; and he approached Jesus to kiss Him. But Jesus said to him, ‘Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?’” It seems reasonable to argue here that in the world that was actualized—our world—that Judas’ betrayal of Jesus was a “set way,” predetermined. While Judas arguably had the free will to betray Jesus, the reality is that it was without
C. Stephen Evans, Pocket Dictionary of Apologetics & Philosophy of Religion (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2002), 94. All Scripture references are taken from the New American Standard Bible (NASB) unless otherwise noted.
24 question the “set way” of this possible world that has been actualized. Therefore, it is at least initially plausible to consider that while Plantinga’s argument works in the context of significant freedom, it seems to experience difficulty if this significant freedom is attacked. If this argument is valid, then it is not unreasonable to conclude that Plantinga’s Free Will Defense may not necessarily be as sufficient as one might hope, for “significant” free will, so to speak, would not exist. Instead, man would appear to have a determined free will. This is a debate that will not be detailed here; however, Ravi Zacharias has perhaps described the thought well in writing, The sovereignty and responsibility issue [free will and determinism] should really be seen as two opposite poles of the same position. Light, for example, is viewed from some vantage points as particles. From other vantage points it is viewed as waves. Scientists are aware that light could not be both particles and waves, so they have coined a term for it, a kind of a construct, and they call it a “photon.” All they have done is create a word and a category that accommodates both perspectives which are real. I think you should view the sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man as a kind of a precious stone with two facets to it. When it catches the light from one direction, you see one color; when it catches the light from the other direction you see the other color.78
Evil is a Privation of Good – St. Augustine St. Augustine was a philosopher and theologian, and arguably “the most famous and influential of the church fathers for the Western church.”79 He has been listed as the “last major thinker of the ancient world and the first philosopher and
An excerpt from Ravi Zacharias’ International Ministries page on the question, “Does RZIM have a position on Calvinism or Arminianism?" http://www.rzim.org/usa/usfv/tabid/436/articleid/174/cbmoduleid/1561/default.aspx C. Stephen Evans, Pocket Dictionary of Apologetics & Philosophy of Religion (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2002), 14.
25 theologian of the Middle Ages.”80 Ronald Nash has written of Augustine that “his work is the bridge that links ancient philosophy and early Christian theology to the thought patterns of the Middle Ages.”81 Augustine’s journey to Christianity was met with various intellectual obstacles. For years, Augustine practiced Manicheanism. “Manicheanism is characterized by a dualistic ontology that sees matter and the physical world as bad, in tension with the pure world of spirit and light.”82 Augustine converted to skepticism during his time with Ambrose in Rome in 383-384 C.E. Nash notes, “By [this time] Augustine had replaced his Manichean worldview with the strange variety of skepticism that had taken control of Plato’s Academy.”83 Augustine’s experiment with skepticism ended with his discovery of the writings of Neo-Platonists such as Plotinus. “Neo-Platonists taught him how evil could exist in a world that depended for its existence on one perfectly good God. Following this lead, Augustine came to think of evil as the privation of goodness, much as darkness is the absence of light.”84 Augustine found that after his exposure to these writings that most of his intellectual objections to Christianity had disappeared. The only obstacles that remained were moral; He had still yet to renounce his moral failings, especially concerning his mistress. “In 386, in a villa outside of Rome, he underwent one of the more dramatic conversions in the history of the Christian church. After hearing a voice say, ‘Take up and read,’ Augustine recounts how he opened the Bible at random
Ronald Nash, Life’s Ultimate Questions (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1999), 140. Ibid.
C. Stephen Evans, Pocket Dictionary of Apologetics & Philosophy of Religion (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2002), 72.
Ronald Nash, Life’s Ultimate Questions, 142. Ibid.
26 and his finger landed on Paul’s words in Romans 13:13-14.”85 Augustine recounts this experience in his Confessions: I seized it [the New Testament] and opened it, and in silence I read the first passage on which my eyes fell. “No orgies or drunkenness, no fighting or jealousy. Take up the weapons of the Lord Jesus Christ; and stop giving attention to your sinful nature, to satisfy its desires.” I had no wish to read more and no need to do so. For in an instant, as I came to the end of the sentence, it was as though the light of faith flooded into my heart and all the darkness of doubt was dispelled.86 Augustine’s acquaintance with Manicheanism led him to reflect on the problem of evil. “Manicheanism explained the existence of good and evil as the unavoidable product of a never-ending struggle between two coequal and co-eternal deities, one good and the other evil. Evil exists because the good God (Light) is powerless to defeat the evil God (Darkness).”87 As a Christian, Augustine eventually came to see that this was an unsatisfactory answer to the problem of evil. In his Confessions, Augustine—disclosing his newfound faith in Christ—decided that “there [was] only one God, and he is both good and all-powerful. Everything God created was good. But the creation contained degrees of goodness.” It has been written of Augustine that he “was one of the first Christian writers to attempt a comprehensive and systematic explanation of evil in a theistic universe.”88 His theodicy “weaved together several key themes” such as “that God, who alone is supremely and immutably good, creates all other things; that all created things are good in their nature; that evil is a privation or lack in created things but not a positive reality;
Ibid. St. Augustine, ed., John Ryan, Confessions (New York: Doubleday, 1960), 8. Ronald Nash, Life’s Ultimate Questions (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1999), 144.
Michael Peterson, William Hasker, Bruce Reichenbach, and David Basinger, Philosophy of Religion : Selected Readings (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007), 292.
27 that moral evil in humans results from a deficiency in the will; and that all things that we call evil from our finite perspective are actually part of the higher order and harmony in God’s economy.”89 Ultimately, Augustine’s understanding of God’s good creation was that he endowed certain creatures with free will.90 Evil was a result of these creatures misusing their free will. That is, “Evil entered the world through sin as humans exercised their free will.”91 Augustine details his understanding of evil in his Confessions, And it was made clear to me that all things are good even if they are corrupted. They could not be corrupted if they were supremely good; but unless they were good they could not be corrupted. If they were supremely good, they would be incorruptible; if they were not good at all, there would be nothing in them to be corrupted. For corruption harms; but unless it could diminish goodness, it could not harm. Either, then, corruption does not harm—which cannot be—or, as is certain, all that is corrupted is thereby deprived of good. But if they are deprived of all good, they will cease to be. For if they are at all and cannot be at all corrupted, they will become better, because they will remain incorruptible.92 Augustine’s argument here is that foundationally, everything is good. He moreover writes, Now what can be more monstrous than to maintain that by losing all good they have become better? If, then, they are deprived of all good, they will cease to exist. So long as they are, therefore, they are good. Therefore, whatsoever is, is good. Evil, then, the origin of which I had been seeking, has no substance at all; for if it were a substance, it would be good. For either it would be an incorruptible substance and so a supreme good, or a corruptible substance, which could not be corrupted unless it were good. I understood, therefore, and it was made clear to me that thou madest all things good, nor is there any substance at all not made by thee. And because all
Meaning humans and angels. Ron Nash has noted that Augustine’s notion of free will had limits. Ronald Nash, Life’s Ultimate Questions (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1999), 145. Ed Hindson and Ergun Caner, The Popular Encyclopedia of Apologetics (Eugene: Harvest House Publishers, 2008), 91. Michael Peterson, William Hasker, Bruce Reichenbach, and David Basinger, Philosophy of Religion : Selected Readings (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007), 292.
28 that thou madest is not equal, each by itself is good, and the sum of all of them is very good, for our God made all things very good.93 It is clear that Augustine’s answer to the problem of God and evil was that evil is a privation of good. That is, evil is not necessarily a “thing,” like a hole in the ground is not a “thing;” The word “hole” is used to describe the absence of dirt. Likewise, for Augustine, evil is the absence of good. It moreover needs good to exist. “Evil is dependent upon a prior good in the sense that it is a kind of parasite or corruption of a prior good. A parasite can never survive unless there is a separate and healthy organism upon which it can prey, from which it can draw sustenance.”94 Ronald Nash describes the theory by the illustration of darkness and light in writing, “Is light or darkness the more fundamental reality? It is a mistake to think that darkness is a power or a force that coexists with light. Darkness is the privation of light. Light is a positive force or power; darkness is nothing, it is nonbeing.”95 While Augustine’s theodicy is arguably sound, it has, like Plantinga’s Free Will Defense, been met with a handful of objections. Gordon Clark, for example, has gone as far as to suggest that although “Augustine, admittedly, was a great Christian and a great philosopher… here he was at his worst. Deficient causes, if there are such things, do not explain why a good God does not abolish sin and guarantee that men always choose the highest good.”96 F.D.E. Schleiermacher furthermore criticized Augustine’s theodicy in suggesting that it is logically contradictory to claim that a perfectly created
Ibid. Ronald Nash, Life’s Ultimate Questions (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1999), 145. Ibid. Gordon Clark, Religion, Reason, and Revelation (Hobbs: The Trinity Foundation, 1995),
29 world went wrong because it implies that evil created itself out of nothing, which is a logical contradiction. “If the world was perfect and there was no knowledge of good and evil, how could Adam and Eve have the freedom to disobey God if goodness and evil were as yet unknown? The disobedience of Adam and Eve and the angels implies that there already was knowledge of good and evil. Augustine’s interpretation of the tree of knowledge therefore is questionable.”97 Another objection suggests that if evil is a lack of goodness or perfection rather than a substance in itself, how does one know what perfection is? In order, for example, to distinguish between what is good in man and what is bad one would need to understand what perfect human nature is. Other objections combat Augustine’s foundational assumption that evil is a privation of good. First, in a theological sense, the prophet Isaiah—writing on behalf of the Lord—wrote, “I am the Lord, and there is no other, the One forming light and creating darkness, causing well-being and creating calamity; I am the Lord who does all these” (Isaiah 45:6-7). In this verse, it seems reasonable to suggest that first, darkness is actually a “thing” that has been created by God, and second, that God is more involved with evil—at least natural evil—than Augustine would like to think. It is important to note here that the context of this verse claims that God’s involvement with “calamity” is so that “men may know from the rising to the setting of the sun that there is no one besides [Him]” (Isaiah 45:6). That is, God seems to give His own theodicy. This contextual consideration derives from the two Hebrew words used in this passage, ra’ (calamity) and bara’ (to create), which suggest that evil is more than a mere absence or
30 parasite of good, but an actual thing.98 Second, an observation notes that Augustine argued that evil is both the privation of good and also the parasite of good. To deem evil a parasite seems to attribute to it characteristics that can only be attributed to something that is real, not simply the absence of something else. In this case, it would at least seem initially illogical to deem evil both the privation of good, and also the parasite of good. In this case, it would be both nothing and something at the same time and in the same sense, which contradicts the law of non-contradiction. This law states that “A cannot be both B and non-B at the same time and in the same sense.”99 A final—and perhaps philosophically weak—objection concerns Augustine’s use of Scripture. Throughout the course of Augustine’s theodicy, he quotes a handful of verses to support his arguments, one of which comes from Isaiah 5:20 which states, “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter.” Augustine uses this verse in his philosophical analysis of the problem of evil, suggesting that calling man evil is worthy of rightly falling under judgment; “Therefore, if anyone says that simply to be a man is evil, or that to be a wicked man is good, he rightly falls under the prophetic judgment: ‘Woe to him who calls evil good and good evil.’”100 In its context, however, this verse seems to be rather suggesting a condemnation against the reversal of immorality which
The book of Jonah contains many uses of the Hebrew ra’ as does Amos 3:6. Both passages allude to significant acts of natural evil. The Hebrew bara’ is a strong word for “creating,” and is the same word used in Genesis 1:1 to describe God’s creating of the earth. A question can be asked here as to whether or not God simply allowed for the possibility of evil, or actually created evil. Again, this context arguably suggests that if the latter is true, that He did so for His glory. This would coincide with the evil represented during Christ’s death on the cross. Isaiah 53:10 says that “it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief.”
Ronald Nash, Life’s Ultimate Questions (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1999), 194.
Michael Peterson, William Hasker, Bruce Reichenbach, and David Basinger, Philosophy of Religion : Selected Readings (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007), 295.
31 dominated Judah at this time. The nation had “confused all moral distinctions.”101 Augustine interpreted the verse ontologically, suggesting that it refers to “finding fault with God’s work, because man is an entity of God’s creation.” He wrote of it, “It means that we are praising the defects in this particular man because he is a wicked person. Thus, every entity, even if it is a defective one, in so far as it is an entity, is good. In so far as it is defective, it is evil.”102 While Augustine interpreted the verse ontologically, it instead seems to be a reference to morality.
Trinitarian Warfare Theodicy – Gregory Boyd Gregory Boyd is senior pastor of Woodland Hills Church in St. Paul, Minnesota, and president of Christus Victor Ministries. He is perhaps best known for his open theism primer, The God of the Possible. In order to understand Boyd’s Trinitarian Warfare Theodicy, one must grasp the argument of his first book—Trinity and Process: A Critical Evaluation and Reconstruction of Hartshorne’s Di-Polar Theism Towards a Trinitarian Metaphysics—a monograph version of his 1988 Princeton Seminary doctoral dissertation. Boyd’s preface reads, This work is, in essence, an attempt to work out a trinitarian-process metaphysic…It is our conviction that the fundamental vision of the process worldview, especially as espoused by Charles Hartshorne, is correct. But it is our conviction as well that the scriptural and traditional understanding of God as triune and antecedently actual within Godself is true, and is, in fact, a foundational doctrine of the Christian faith.
John MacArthur, The MacArthur Study Bible, New King James Version (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishing), 962. Excerpt from the footnote on Isaiah 5:20. Michael Peterson, William Hasker, Bruce Reichenbach, and David Basinger, Philosophy of Religion : Selected Readings (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007), 295.
32 But, we contend, these two views, when understood within a proper framework, do not conflict.103 Boyd Luter and Kelly Hunter have noted of Boyd’s thesis, “Simply put, Boyd is constructing a ‘best of both worlds’ approach, drawing from process and orthodox Trinitarian thought.”104 While Boyd purports a process theology in origin, it is important to note that he is more accurately an open theist. Process theology is “an approach to theology inspired by the philosophical thought of Alfred North Whitehead and Charles Hartshorne, [which] rejects the classical picture of God as immutable and transcendent in favor of a God who is partly evolving with and in relation to the created world.”105 Open theism claims “that some of the traditional attributes ascribed to God by classical theism should be either rejected or reinterpreted.”106 Advocates of open theism “reject the claim that God is timelessly eternal, and believe that though God’s essential character is immutable, God changes in some ways so as to respond appropriately to a changed creation.”107 The difference is slight, but rests—at least in the context of the problem of evil—in God’s immutability. The most controversial tenet of this theology is arguably the belief that God’s foreknowledge is limited because of the limitations He gave Himself in giving humans free will.
Luter, A. Boyd and Hunter, Emily K., “Review: Satan and the Problem of Evil: Constructing a Trinitarian Warfare Theodicy” (2003), 159. Faculty Publications and Presentations. Paper 257. http://digitalcommons.liberty.edu/Its_fac_pubs/257
C. Stephen Evans, Pocket Dictionary of Apologetics & Philosophy of Religion (Downers Grove: InterVaristy Press, 2002), 97.
Ibid., 85. Ibid.
33 The thrust of Boyd’s theodicy is outlined in the following: Boyd [purports] six Trinitarian warfare theses that comprise the framework of his theodicy. These are: (1) love must be freely chosen; (2) love entails risk; (3) love and freedom entail that we are responsible for one another; (4) the power to influence for the worse is proportionate to the power to influence for the better; (5) within limits, freedom must be irrevocable; and (6) this limitation is not infinite, for our capacity to choose freely is not endless.108 “Boyd asserts that these six theses add up to a compelling explanation for the knotty problem of how evil exists in a world created by a good God.”109 Boyd’s theodicy is an unusually difficult argument to “assign strengths and weaknesses; such evaluation depends almost entirely on one’s entry viewpoint.”110 Luter and Hunter have conveyed this difficulty well in writing, On the one hand, if readers share Boyd’s semi-process/openness presuppositions, his ambitious theodicy will come off as strong and of great significance. Again, if readers are in his camp or do not notice his unproven assumptions of God’s selflimiting ultra-immanence and man’s minimized sinfulness, they likely will end up exactly where he is trying to take them. In a word, if the eccentric premises of open theism make sense to readers, the construction of Boyd’s logic probably will as well. On the other hand, if readers don’t accept Boyd’s foundational stance, the superstructure built on it, while flashy, is ultimately a virtual house of cards.111 With this said, the most emphatic objection to Boyd’s theodicy is that he sacrifices the legitimate omnipotence of God, which naturally appeases the atheologian in his LPE.
Luter, A. Boyd and Hunter, Emily K., “Review: Satan and the Problem of Evil: Constructing a Trinitarian Warfare Theodicy” (2003), 160. Faculty Publications and Presentations. Paper 257. http://digitalcommons.liberty.edu/Its_fac_pubs/257
Ibid. Ibid. Ibid.
34 A Deterministic Approach – Gordon Clark “Gordon Clark was born in Philadelphia and received his Ph.D. in philosophy in 1929. He taught at Wheaton College, Reformed Episcopal Seminary, and Covenant College and was chairman of the Philosophy Department at Butler University for twentyeight years. His teaching career spanned sixty years.”112 Clark is most remembered for his rational presuppositionalism, which is a philosophy that stresses reason as the means of determining truth. “Mind is given authority over senses, the a priori over the a posteriori.”113 Norman Geisler has written of Clark and his philosophy, Clark has provided a great service to Christian apologetics by stressing the laws of logic on which all rational arguments are based. The law of noncontradiction is absolutely necessary to the affirmation and confirmation of all truth claims. However, logic is only a set of formal principles. It tells what could be true; not what is true. To know what is really true, sooner or later one must touch base with the external world.114 Clark’s theodicy was founded on his rationalism. For Clark, “The Bible [presents] God as omnipotent, and only on this basis can a Christian view of evil be worked out.” Clark did not consider free will and the omnipotence of God logically compatible. He has written, “free will is not only futile but false.”115 Clark has moreover
Norman Geisler, Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics (Grand Rapids: BakerBooks,
Ibid., 633. Ibid., 153. Gordon Clark, Religion, Reason, and Revelation (Hobbs: The Trinity Foundation, 1995),
35 written that “free will cannot resolve the difficulty” of the problem of God and evil, and that one must therefore “turn to the opposite theory of determinism.”116 Clark admits that at first, “determinism, instead of alleviating the situation, seems to accentuate the problem of evil by maintaining the inevitability of every event; and not only the inevitability, but also the further and more embarrassing point that it is God himself who determines or decrees every action.”117 This accentuation, however, is alleviated in Clark’s discussion of God’s will. He writes, The term will is ambiguous. The Ten Commandments are God’s perceptive will. They command men to do this and to refrain from that. They state what ought to be done; but they neither state nor cause what is done. God’s decretive will, however, as contrasted with his precepts, causes every event. It would be conducive to clarity if the term will were not applied to the precepts. Call the requirements of morality commands, precepts, or laws; and reserve the term will for the divine decree. These are two different things, and what looks like an opposition between them is not a self-contradiction.118 Clark cites the biblical event of Jesus’ crucifixion to illustrate his argument: “The Jews ought not to have demanded Christ’s crucifixion. It was contrary to the moral law. But God had decreed Christ’s death from the foundation of the world. It may seem strange at first that God would decree an immoral act, but the Bible shows that he did.”119 Clark moreover argues that to suggest that, If God did not arrange it this way, then there must be an independent factor in the universe. And if there is such, one consequence and perhaps two follow. First, the doctrine of creation must be abandoned. A creation ex nihilo would be completely in God’s control. Independent forces cannot be created forces, and created forces cannot be independent. Then, second, if the universe is not God’s creation, his
Ibid. Clark’s use of “must” here is later followed up in writing, “Is there not a third possibility? Could it not be that some events or choices are determined and some are not? Such a third possibility, however, could contribute nothing to this discussion” (p. 207).
Ibid. Of course, Clark is being sarcastic here. Ibid., 222. Ibid., 223
36 knowledge of it—past and future—cannot depend on what he intends to do, but on his observation of how it works. In such a case, how could we be sure that God’s observations are accurate? How could we be sure that these independent forces will not later show an unsuspected twist that will falsify God’s predictions? And, finally, on this view God’s knowledge would be empirical, rather than an integral part of his essence, and thus he would be a dependent knower.120 For Clark, these objections are “insurmountable. We can consistently believe in creation, omnipotence, omniscience, and the divine decree. But we cannot retain sanity and combine any one of these with free will.”121 That is, to suggest that man has a significant free will is to suggest that God is not God. Like the aforementioned theodicies, Clark’s deterministic approach has been met with objections. The most common objection toward Clark’s theodicy is likely the thought that it is not illogical to decree that God is omnipotent and that free will exists, as noted by Augustine and Plantinga. Moreover, skeptics have argued that while Clark’s theodicy may solve the omnipotence portion of LPE, that it is weak in the context of God’s omnibenevolence, which is also part of the problem. EPE advocates argue that Clark’s theodicy portrays a wicked God, but Clark argues just the opposite. “We are unconscious of our limitations,” writes Clark. That is, it is not necessarily outside of the realm of logic to suggest that while it may appear that God is evil because evil exists (or because He created it), He assuredly is not. For Clark, it’s not that God merely “allows” evil; He created it. Apart from the weaknesses, a major strength in Clark’s theodicy is his exegesis of Scripture. He utilizes passages that reference Jesus’ crucifixion, Judas’ betrayal, and Pilate’s decision not to release Jesus. Clark does an excellent job including theological considerations in his philosophical theories:
Ibid. Ibid., 210.
37 Aside from the peculiarity of assigning a semi-sovereignty to God and to man a semi-free will, the crux of the conflict lies in choices that cannot be split in half. Could Judas have chosen not to betray Christ? If he could have chosen not to betray Christ, his moral responsibility is established, says the Arminian; but says the Calvinist, prophecy in such a case could have proved false. Or, again, could Pilate have decided to release Jesus? Are we prepared to say that God could not make sure of the necessary events in his plan of redemption? Besides, the Bible explicitly says, “Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together ‘to do whatever your hand and your purpose determined before to be done.’” Here in these individual choices moral responsibility is potted against the success of God’s eternal plan of redemption. There is therefore no use in supposing some choices free and others determined. The Scriptures say that this one choice was determined ahead of time, and the whole theological and philosophical issue is found complete in this one choice.122 Clark’s theodicy is not as prevalent in today’s conversations as Augustine’s and Plantinga’s, to name a couple. This much is seen in the lack of information about him in many of the leading philosophical and apologetic encyclopedias. This is perhaps because Clark is often ridiculed for his allegedly irrational rational presuppositionalism, and perhaps on this front, rightly so. However, it is not unreasonable to suggest that Clark’s deterministic theodicy is any less logical or valuable than Plantinga’s, or even Augustine’s. Clark’s theodicy is arguably more bible-centered than many of the other theodicies that have been offered. His exegeses of the Scriptures can, and have, been questioned, but Clark’s greatest strength is that his philosophy was birthed from the Scriptures where other commonly accepted philosophies are not. Scripture gets honorable mention in many theodicies, but it receives first place in Clark’s. It is safe to suggest that Clark was a philosopher because he was a Christian.
38 The Soul-Making Theodicy – John Hick John Hick is heralded as “one of the most important philosophers of religion of the late twentieth century. His literary output and influence has been a strong force against orthodox Christianity at several crucial junctures.”123 One of these “crucial junctures” is the question of the problem of evil. John Hick has been credited with developing the Soul-Making Theodicy. Hick graciously notes, however, that his argument was inspired by the church father Irenaeus. “The major theme [of Hick’s theodicy] is not one of causal genesis, but of progress and development. Rather than view the present condition of the world as fallen from a kind of perfection, Hick views the world as a necessary stage in the evolution of a relatively immature creation into a more mature state. God seeks to bring forth mature moral and spiritual beings who are capable of freely exercising faith in him and love toward their fellows.”124 Hick introduces his theodicy in the following: Can a world in which sadistic cruelty often has its way, in which selfish lovelessness is so rife, in which there are debilitating diseases, crippling accidents, bodily and mental decay, insanity, and all manner of natural disasters be regarded as the expression of infinite creative goodness? Certainly all this could never by itself lead anyone to believe in the existence of a limitlessly powerful God. And yet even in a world which contains these things innumerable men and women have believed and do believe in the reality of an infinite creative goodness, which they call God. The theodicy project starts at this point, with an already operating belief in God, embodied in human living, and attempts to show that this belief is not rendered irrational by the fact of evil. It attempts to explain how it is that the universe, assumed to be created and ultimately ruled by a limitlessly good and limitlessly powerful Being, is as it is, including all the pain and suffering and all the wickedness and folly that that we find around us and within us. The theodicy project is thus an exercise in metaphysical construction in the sense that it consists in the
Norman Geisler, Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics (Grand Rapids: BakerBooks,
1999), 316. Michael Peterson, William Hasker, Bruce Reichenbach, and David Basinger, Philosophy of Religion : Selected Readings (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007), 341.
39 formation and criticism of large-scale hypotheses concerning the nature and process of the universe.125 For Hick, Christian thought includes “a certain range of variety, and in the area of theodicy offers two broad types of approach.”126 These approaches are the Augustinian approach, which “hinges upon the fall, and has in turn brought about the disharmony of nature”127 and the Irenaean approach which “hinges upon the creation of humankind through the evolutionary process as an immature creature living in a challenging and therefore person-making world.”128 Hick makes it clear that he finds the Augustinian approach unsatisfactory. “But even if it should be sound,” Hick argues, “I suggest that the argument wins only a Pyrrhic victory, since the logical possibility that it would establish is one which, for very many people today, is fatally lacking in plausibility.”129 Hick’s Soul-Making Theodicy argues that God allows suffering so that human souls might grow or develop towards maturation. It has also been defined as the argument that “God allows evil so as to make it possible for humans to develop certain desirable virtues.”130 Its roots are Irenaean because Irenaeus “[built] a framework of thought within which a theodicy became possible which does not depend upon the idea of the fall, and which is consonant with modern knowledge concerning the origins of the
Ibid. Ibid., 342. Ibid. Ibid. Ibid.
C. Stephen Evans, Pocket Dictionary of Apologetics & Philosophy of Religion (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2002), 114.
40 human race.”131 It is important to note that while the roots of the Soul-Making Theodicy are Irenaean, Hick rightfully notes that “this theodicy cannot, as such, be attributed to Irenaeus.”132 This is because although Hick adopted Irenaeus’ theology concerning the fall, much of the arguments surrounding his theodicy are simply not Irenaean. Hick regards Irenaeus as the “patron saint” of his Soul-Making Theodicy. Hick expresses this Irenaean inspired theodicy in the following: The central theme out of which this Irenaean type of theodicy has arisen is the twostage conception of the creation of humankind, first in the “image” and then in the “likeness” of God. Re-expressing this in modern terms, the first stage was the gradual production of homo sapiens, through the long evolutionary process, as intelligent ethical and religious animals. The human being is an animal, one of the varied forms of earthly life and continuous as such with the whole realm of animal existence. But the human being is uniquely intelligent, having evolved a large and immensely complex brain. Further, the human being is ethical—that is, a gregarious as well as an intelligent animal, able to realize and respond to the complex demands of social life. And the human being is a religious animal, with an innate tendency to experience the world in terms of the presence and activity of supernatural beings and powers. This then is early homo sapiens, the intelligent social animal capable of awareness of the divine.133 Hick argues for a two-stage process which includes the “image” and the “likeness” of man. This specific quote concerns the “image,” and argues that instead of being created in the perfect image of God, as Augustinian theology suggests, “the life of this being must have been a constant struggle against a hostile environment, and capable of savage violence against one’s fellow human beings.”134 Hick further suggests that
Michael Peterson, William Hasker, Bruce Reichenbach, and David Basinger, Philosophy of Religion : Selected Readings, 343.
Ibid. Ibid. Ibid.
41 “this being’s concepts of the divine were primitive and often bloodthirsty.”135 Thus existence “‘in the image of God’ was a potentiality for knowledge of and relationship with one’s Maker rather than such knowledge and relationship as a fully realized state.”136 Hick is arguing, generally, that people were created as spiritually and morally immature creatures. Moreover, this spiritual and morally immature creation is the beginning of a long process of further growth and development. For Hick, this process “constitutes the second stage of God’s creative work [in which] the intelligent, ethical, and religious animal is being brought through one’s own free responses into what Irenaeus called the divine ‘likeness.’”137 That is, the human animal is being created into a child of God, and wasn’t necessarily created as a child of God. This is distinct from Irenaeus who believed that “God created Adam and Eve as children, frail and open to Satan’s seducing.”138 For Irenaeus, “Humanity was a child; and its mind was not yet fully mature; and thus humanity was easily led astray by the deceiver.”139 Hick is convinced “that there never was a fall from an original righteousness and grace.”140 Hick’s theodicy has been heralded as one of the more philosophically convincing arguments for the problem of evil, but it has still been met with objections. First, some have argued that there are some evils that do not seem to contribute to the
Ibid. Ibid. Ibid.
Ed Hindson and Ergun Caner, The Popular Encyclopedia of Apologetics (Eugene: Harvest House Publishers, 2008), 275.
McGrath, Demonstration of the Apostolic Preaching, 12. 93
Michael Peterson, William Hasker, Bruce Reichenbach, and David Basinger, Philosophy of Religion : Selected Readings, 344.
42 process of soul-making. Rowe’s development of EPE and the consideration of gratuitous evils arguably suggest, for example, that there are evils that seem to incur the opposite effect of soul-making. A second objection suggests that many individuals live lives of luxury and virtually never experience evils that can potentially promote soul-making properties. The wealthy and powerful are, in this objection, rarely, if ever, confronted with evil in order to produce soul-making effects. Finally, and perhaps the most formidable objection raised suggests that there are better ways to attain soul-making properties than by experiencing evil, and this therefore renders the soul-making theodicy unjustifiable. Many of these objections are acknowledged in the following chapter, in which a rendering of Hick’s Soul Making Theodicy is offered. Suffice it to say here that while Hick offers a considerably logical theodicy, it is in many ways an unsatisfactory approach to conservative Christianity. The rendering offered in the next chapter adapts the theodicy into a more biblical approach to the question of God and evil, while maintaining a philosophically sound contribution.
A Rendering of John Hick’s Soul-Making Theodicy Irenaeus was a missionary, pastor, and apologist, who studied at the feet of Polycarp. He was moreover the “preeminent ante-Nicene father, for he, more than any other [in his] time, promulgated the soundness of the orthodox faith as the apostolic tradition in the face of late-second-century Gnosticism.”141 As previously noted, although Irenaeus inspired the Soul-Making Theodicy, it is not necessarily Irenaean. He is best considered its “patron saint.” This inspiration stems from the thought that Irenaeus “[built] a framework of thought within which a theodicy became possible which does not depend upon the idea of the fall, and which is consonant with modern knowledge concerning the origins of the human race.”142 That is, Irenaeus is credited with the thought that man is an “immature creature living in a challenging and therefore person-making world.”143 This is distinct from Augustine, who argued that the creation of man “hinges upon the fall, and has in turn brought about the disharmony of nature”144
Ed Hindson and Ergun Caner, The Popular Encyclopedia of Apologetics (Eugene: Harvest House Publishers, 2008), 274. Michael Peterson, William Hasker, Bruce Reichenbach, and David Basinger, Philosophy of Religion : Selected Readings (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007), 343.
Ibid., 342. Ibid.
44 Hick’s theodicy extends beyond what Irenaeus would have purported. He has written, in fact, that his theodicy “cannot, as such, be attributed to Irenaeus.”145 In fact, at the end of their respective lives, Irenaeus and Hick likely did not agree on much. Hick, for example, had a fairly weak view concerning Scripture, while Irenaeus held an extremely high view of it. Hick moreover advocated such theological thoughts as universal salvation, the reincarnation of man, a mythical interpretation of the incarnation of Christ, and an evolutionary interpretation of the image of God in man. Many of these differences will be outlined in the following in order to support an Irenaean rendering of Hick’s Soul-Making Theodicy.146
The Word of God In his book, A Hill on Which to Die, Paul Pressler asked, “Why would a person give up personal comfort and ease to become involved in a distasteful and bitter conflict that would impact his entire life?”147 He answered, “Some people have difficulty accepting the fact that a person might simply have convictions which are so strong that he must stand for them.”148 For Pressler, these convictions are “the complete, absolute, total accuracy and integrity of the revelation that God has given us in His Book—the Bible.”149 He concluded, “Believing this, I had no option but to stand for what I know to be the truth.”150
Only the differences that directly affect Hick’s theodicy will be detailed, which are his convictions concerning the Bible, the image of God in man, and his eschatological conviction, which is universal salvation.
Paul Pressler, A Hill on Which to Die (Nashville: B&H Publishing, 1999), ix. Ibid.
45 Pressler’s convictions of Scripture—that it is complete, absolute, totally accurate, integral, and revelatory—historically surmise one of Christianity’s most controversial issues. This is to say that the interpretation of the inspiration of Scripture has been a subject of debate amongst Christians for centuries. David Dockery, in his work Christian Scripture, lists five historical theories of inspiration that have developed as a result of these centuries-long debates. These are the dictation, illumination, encounter, dynamic, and plenary-verbal theories of inspiration.151 To briefly define these theories, “the dictation theory places the emphasis upon God’s actual dictation of His Word to the human writers;”152 In the illumination theory, “human authors were enabled to express themselves with eloquent language to produce a certain emotional response from the readers or hearers. Inspiration is the illumination of the authors beyond their normal abilities;”153 “[The Encounter Theory] states that in regard to its composition, the Bible differs little from other books. Yet, the Bible is unique because of the Spirit’s ability to use it as a means of revelation to specific individuals or communities;”154 The dynamic theory attempts “a combination of divine and human elements in the process of inspiration;”155 Finally, “[The plenary-verbal theory’s] approach is careful to see the Spirit’s influence both upon the writers and, primarily, upon
Ibid., 160. Ibid. David Dockery. Christian Scripture. (Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 1995), Noted on
Ibid. Ibid., 52. Ibid., 53. Ibid., 54.
46 the writings. It also seeks to view inspiration as extending to all portions of Holy Scripture, even beyond the direction of thoughts to the selection of words.”156 Dockery wrote concerning these theories, “Many of [these] are attempts to deal seriously with the two-sided character of the Scripture—[God and man].”157 Irenaeus and Hick certainly argued their own respective theories concerning this “two-sided character of Scripture.” Regarding Irenaeus’ view of Scripture, Caner and Hindson have noted that, Irenaeus held an extremely high view of Scripture, for he believed that the Septuagint had been interpreted by the inspiration of God. He was also the earliest Christian writer to list the four canonical Gospels. Furthermore, Irenaeus upheld all the Pauline writings as authoritative, because he derived apostolic succession from them. Finally, he employed other apostolic writings (as well as tradition) to build his case against Gnosticism’s falsehood.158 Hick summarized his personal view of Scripture in writing, For most educated inhabitants of the modern world regard the biblical story of Adam and Eve, and their temptation by the devil, as myth rather than as history. Further, they reject as incredible the idea that earthquake and flood, disease, decay, and death are consequences either of a human fall, or of a prior fall of angelic beings who are now exerting an evil influence upon the earth. They see all this as part of a pre-scientific world view, along with the stories of the world having been created in six days and of the sun standing still for twenty-four hours at Joshua’s command. One cannot, strictly speaking, disprove any of these ancient biblical myths and sagas, or refute their confident elaboration in the medieval Christian picture of the universe. But those of us for whom the resulting theodicy, even if logically possible, is radically implausible, must look elsewhere for light on the problem of evil.159 These quotes evidence the notion that although Hick considered his theodicy Irenaean in origin, he disagreed with him concerning the inspiration and value of Scripture. Irenaeus
Ibid., 55. Ibid., 51.
Ed Hindson and Ergun Caner, The Popular Encyclopedia of Apologetics (Eugene: Harvest House Publishers, 2008), 275. Michael Peterson, William Hasker, Bruce Reichenbach, and David Basinger, Philosophy of Religion : Selected Readings (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007), 342-3.
47 viewed Scripture with authority, and Hick considered most of it as myth. This is important because Hick’s theodicy rests heavily on the notion that Adam and Eve were merely mythical characters. Irenaeus, on the other hand, likely considered the two actual, historical figures. C. Stephen Evans has written that “Irenaeus is known for his argument that Christ came to actualize all those perfections that God had intended humans to have but that were lost through the sin of Adam and Eve.”160 This suggests a literal interpretation of the individual’s existence. This thesis purports the plenary-verbal theory of inspiration of Scripture, which is closer to what Irenaeus would have advocated. Historically, many theologians have noted some wonderful discourse on the Word of God. The most notable is perhaps W.A. Criswell. In his book, Why I Preach That the Bible is Literally True, he noted, “The Bible is the Word of God, not merely contains it.”161 In the book, he consistently asks, “Why do I believe that the Bible is literally true?” Some of his answers include: (1) Because of the testimony of Jesus Christ, (2) because of the internal witness of the Holy Scriptures, (3) because of the fulfillment of prophecy, (4) and because of the confirmation of archeology.162 Criswell also addressed any doubters and discussed questions such as, “Is the Bible Full of Errors and Contradictions?” and “Is the Bible an Immoral Book?” Criswell’s conclusion to these questions is one that has withstood time, translating to an inspiration that has been etched into the pulpits of many churches; Criswell wrote, “I believe that the Bible is literally true because it partakes of the nature of God, who is eternal, who is the same
C. Stephen Evans, Pocket Dictionary of Apologetics & Philosophy of Religion (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2002), 62.
W.A. Criswell. Why I Preach That the Bible is Literally True (Nashville: Broadman Press,
These general answers are seen in the chapter titles.
48 yesterday, today, and forever.”163 This is an important point because a mythical interpretation of the events renders a weak view of God, which arguably leads to a weakness in one’s theodicy regarding the omnipotence of God. Criswell advocated an important thought in that a literal interpretation of Scripture upholds the nature of God as eternal, the same yesterday, today, and forever. Arthur Pink has said, “The Bible is an inexhaustible mine of wealth: it is the El Dorado of heavenly treasure. It has veins of ore which will never ‘give out’ and pockets of gold which no pick can empty. It is like a spring of water which never runs dry.”164 Pink’s quote speaks not only of the wealth of Scripture, but of its veracity. The battle for biblical authority has waged for many years, and will, in all likelihood, continue to wage. It is important for Christian philosophers to fight for a literal interpretation of Scripture. This should always be a “hill on which to die,” or Christian philosophy will be able to do nothing less than “bemoan the fate of millions of lost persons around the globe who remain oblivious to the message of Christ due to the inroads of universalism, liberation theology, and anemic evangelism which rests on a shifting foundation of historicalcritical hypothesizing.”165 Hick’s view concerning Scripture arguably hinders his theodicy insofar as it ventures away from the biblical description of omnipotence. A skeptic could easily attack this claim, suggesting that his rendering of omnipotence hinders his theodicy.
W.A. Criswell. Why I Preach That the Bible is Literally True (Nashville: Broadman Press,
Arthur Pink. The Divine Inspiration of the Bible (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1971),
23. The Proceedings of the Conference on Biblical Inerrancy, 1987 (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1987), 93.
49 Evolution and the Image of God in Man Another difference between Irenaeus and Hick is their interpretation of the image of God in man. Irenaeus lived before evolution became a theory and his theology never seemed to suggest this interpretation of creation. With this said, Irenaeus’ theology is distinct in that he argued a theory that didn’t necessarily depend on the fall, which, as noted earlier, suggests man as an “immature creature living in a challenging and therefore person-making world.”166 Unlike Augustine who argued that man fell from perfection, Irenaeus suggested man as more of working towards perfection, and the existence of evil doesn’t necessarily depend upon the fall. Augustine believed that it did.167 “Irenaeus believed God created Adam and Eve as children, frail and open to Satan’s seducing: ‘Humanity was a child; and its mind was not yet fully mature; and thus humanity was easily led astray by the deceiver.’”168 Irenaeus advocated this thought in writing, Things which have recently come into being cannot be eternal; and, not being eternal, they fall short of perfection for that very reason. And being newly created they are therefore childish and immature, and not yet fully prepared for an adult way of life. And so, just as a mother is able to offer food to an infant, but the infant is not yet able to receive food unsuited to its age, in the same way, God, for his part, could have offered perfection to humanity at the beginning, but humanity was not capable of receiving it. It was nothing more than an infant.169 This is essentially the starting point for Hick’s theodicy, but Hick advanced Irenaeus’ conviction to the scientific theory of evolution. Hick wrote, “Re-expressing this in modern terms, the first stage was the gradual production of homo sapiens, through
Michael Peterson, William Hasker, Bruce Reichenbach, and David Basinger, Philosophy of Religion : Selected Readings (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007), 342.
The fall refers to both angels and man.
Ed Hindson and Ergun Caner, The Popular Encyclopedia of Apologetics (Eugene: Harvest House Publishers, 2008), 275.
50 the long evolutionary process, as intelligent ethical and religious animals.”170 This thought is furthermore expressed in the following quote from Hick: But early homo sapiens is not the Adam and Eve of Augustinian theology, living in perfect harmony with self, with nature, and with God. On the contrary, the life of this being must have been a constant struggle against a hostile environment, and capable of savage violence against one’s fellow human beings, particularly outside one’s own immediate group; and this being’s concepts of the divine were primitive and often bloodthirsty. Thus existence “in the image of God” was a potentiality for knowledge of a relationship with one’s Maker rather than such knowledge and relationship as a fully realized state. In other words, people were created as spiritually and morally immature creatures, at the beginning of a long process of further growth and development, which constitutes the second stage of God’s creative work. In this second stage, of which we are a part of the intelligent, ethical, and religious animal is being brought through one’s own free responses into what Irenaeus called the divine “likeness.” The human animal is being created into a child of God.171 As evidenced in this quote, Hick took Irenaeus’ interpretation of the image of God and advanced it to the theory of evolution. The center of this difference is discovered in Hick’s theory that man is a “human animal” that is “being created into a child of God” by a “long evolutionary process,” as opposed to being a man who, though created imperfect, was created as a child of God, as Irenaeus suggested. Both the image of God in man and the theory of evolution are detailed in the following, and an interpretation is offered for the rendered Soul-Making Theodicy.
The Image of God in Man The image of God in man is a rare and controversial topic among Christians. The thought that man is unique from other animals is a thought-provoking concept that captures the minds of theologians and scientists alike.
Michael Peterson, William Hasker, Bruce Reichenbach, and David Basinger, Philosophy of Religion : Selected Readings (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007), 343.
51 Interestingly, the World Resources Institute has observed that, “scientists have a better understanding of how many stars there are in the galaxy than how many species there are on Earth. Estimates of global species diversity have varied from 2 Million to 100 million, with a best estimate of somewhere near 10 million, and only 1.4 million have actually been named.”172 Of these estimated 10 million species, the Bible states that God placed a unique description on mankind only. Genesis speaks only of man being created in God’s image, with His likeness. Scripture portrays no other creature having this characterization. The idea of the image of God is developed primarily from Genesis 1:26, which utilizes the words, “image” and “likeness.” In Hebrew, these words are tselem and demuth.173 “Both terms, obviously, refer to a relation between man and his Creator.”174 In the Hebrew Old Testament, tselem and demuth are a rare find. In fact, the notion that man is created in God’s image is rarely stated, which makes Hick’s theodicy fairly unique. G.C. Berkouwer has observed, “If we examine the Biblical witness regarding man, we soon discover that it never gives us any kind of systematic theory about man as the image of God. It is indeed rather striking that the term is not used often at all, and that it is far less ‘central’ in the Bible than it has been in the history of Christian thought.”175 Berkouwer was correct in his observation. The church is quick to note that man is created in the image of God, but rarely defines its meaning. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, for example, has stated, “Human beings have a unique
http://www.wri.org/publication/content/8202 English transliteration. G.C. Berkouwer, Man: The Image of God (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1962), 69. Ibid., 67.
52 position in the order of creation. As males and females created in God’s image, we are given the capacity and freedom to know and respond to our Creator.”176 The Baptist Faith and Message reads, “The sacredness of human personality is evident in that God created man in His own image, and in that Christ died for man.”177 While these are biblical statements, they do not define the meaning of the Image of God. Berkouwer was right; the idea is far less “central”178 in the Bible than it is in Christian thought. This lack of centrality has led many scholars to investigate Scripture, hoping to find a specific meaning of the idea. In his work, In the Image of God, William Baker generalized the various conclusions of these scholars into five categories. He writes, “Christians have offered various suggestions as to precisely what the image consists of. [They] can be categorized as an inner quality, as a relationship between God and humanity, as dominion over nature, as a representation of God, or as sonship.”179 Each view falls under a more general category. Millard Erickson considers these generalizations the substantive view, which believes that man has a spiritual or physical commonality with God, the relational view which argues that one must be in a relationship with God in order to possess the image of God, and the functional view which argues that the image of God is imprinted on us in function rather than in form or relationship.180
http://archive.elca.org/communication/brief.html Baptist Faith and Message, Article III, Man, 11 1998 Not that it fails in importance, only that it is rare in occurrence. William Baker, In the Image of God (Chicago: Moody, 1991), 36. Millard Erickson, Christian Theology (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1994), 520-530.
53 Having noted difficulties with many of the leading views, an attempt at advocacy must be made. Millard Erickson has discerned, “The existence of a wide diversity of interpretations is an indication that there are no direct statements in Scripture to resolve the [image of God] issue.”181 This thesis advances the representation view of the image of God, which is closer to Augustine’s convictions than Irenaeus’. This does not sacrifice the credibility of a Soul-Making Theodicy because, while this rendering doesn’t hinge on the weakened understanding of the image of God in man, it still submits that God, in His omnipotence and omnibenevolence, considered it satisfactory to allow man the opportunity to grow in character. This suggested interpretation of the image of God in man best defends sin’s impact and Scripture’s total representation of the image. Of its many tenets, the Representation view sees Christ as the perfect image of God. G.C. Berkouwer wrote, “The whole Scriptural witness makes clear that our understanding of the image of God can be sound only when in unbreakable relation to the witness regarding Jesus Christ, who is called the image of God.”182
Scriptural Support In his epistle to the Colossians, Paul wrote that Christ “is the image of the invisible God” (Col 1:15a). Verse 15 parallels183 verse 19 which says, “For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell.” The “invisible God” that Christ bears image of is none other than the “Father” of verse 19. Essentially, Christ is looking to the
Ibid., 531-2. G.C. Berkouwer, Man: The Image of God (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1962), 107. In its Greek chiastic structure.
54 Father, imitating Him. The Father is looking back to Christ declaring, “I am pleased that in You all fullness dwells.” To conclude, man is substantively like God,184 but the complete185 image of God can only be restored when man imitates Jesus Christ. This requires an incorruptible and undefiled relationship that can only be revealed by His saving grace and perfected186 upon entering His kingdom.
Evolution As previously noted, Hick also asserted a unique view on evolution. He argued that God used the process, and continues to use the process, to develop man’s character. While this theology—theistic evolution—differed from that of Irenaeus’, it has been more accepted in recent days. On October 23, 1996, while speaking to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences at the Vatican, Pope John Paul II stated, “[evolution] has been proven true; we always celebrate natures factuality, and we look forward to interesting discussions of theological implications.”187 This comment may come as a surprise to the modern day Protestant; however, it is important to note that John Paul II was only reiterating what Pope Pius XII had stated nearly fifty years earlier: “In his encyclical ‘Humani Generis’ (1950) my
The tripartite make-up. Meaning, as close as possible in a fallen world. Meaning, a restored image that is not corrupted by sin. This can only be fulfilled in heaven.
Michael Peterson, William Hasker, Bruce Reichenbach, and David Basinger, Philosophy of Religion (New York: Oxford Press, 2007), 555.
55 predecessor Pius XII had already stated that there was no opposition between evolution and the doctrine of faith about man and his vocation.”188 Pope Pius XII wrote, The Teaching Authority of the Church does not forbid that, in conformity with the present state of human sciences and sacred theology, research and discussions, on the part of men experienced in both fields, take place with regard to the doctrine of evolution, in as far as it inquires into the origin of the human body as coming from pre-existent and living matter –for the Catholic faith obliges us to hold that souls are immediately created by God.189 This is an important quote because, according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the church’s interpretation of Scripture is authoritative. Article II, Section 85 of the Catechism reads, “The task of giving an authentic interpretation of the Word of God, whether in its written form or in the form of Tradition,190 has been entrusted to the living teaching office of the Church alone. This means that the task of interpretation has been entrusted to the bishop.”191 This is to say that both Pope Pius and John Paul’s statements regarding evolution are understood as the official Catholic, and therefore church’s, stance on God’s creation of man. The late Stephen Gould harmoniously wrote, “Sincere Christians must now accept evolution, not merely as a plausible possibility, but also as an effectively proven fact.”192 Gould illustrates this statement with the following story,
Ibid., 554. Ibid., 553.
Tradition here is best described in Article II, Section 78 of the Catechism: This living transmission, accomplished in the Holy Spirit, is called Tradition, since it is distinct from Sacred Scripture, though closely connected to it. Through Tradition, "the Church, in her doctrine, life and worship, perpetuates and transmits to every generation all that she herself is, all that she believes. The sayings of the holy Fathers are a witness to the life-giving presence of this Tradition, showing how its riches are poured out in the practice and life of the Church, in her belief and her prayer."
http://www.vatican.va/archive/catechism.htm. Emphasis added.
Michael Peterson, William Hasker, Bruce Reichenbach, and David Basinger, Philosophy of Religion (New York: Oxford Press, 2007), 555.
56 I am often asked whether I ever encounter creationism as a live issue among my Harvard undergraduate students. I reply that only once, in thirty years of teaching, did I experience such an incident. A very sincere and serious freshman student came to my office with a question that had clearly been troubling him deeply. He said to me, “I am a devout Christian and have never had any reason to doubt evolution, an idea that seems both exciting and well documented. But my roommate, a proselytizing evangelical, has been insisting with enormous vigor that I cannot be both a real Christian and an evolutionist. So tell me, can a person believe both in God and in evolution?” Again, I gulped hard, did my intellectual duty, and reassured him that evolution was both true and entirely compatible with Christian belief – a position that I hold sincerely, but still an odd situation for a Jewish agnostic.193 There are at least two important questions concerning evolution and Christianity. These questions are: “Can an individual be both a real Christian and an evolutionist?” and “Is there any real reason for the Christian to doubt evolution?” For Stephen Gould, the answers are “yes” and “no.” Alvin Plantinga surprisingly echoes Gould. The Soul-Making Theodicy rendering offered here, however, suggests the answers of “yes” and “yes.” Concerning the first question, while a theology including Christianity and evolution is arguably incorrect, this is not grounds for the termination or neglection of salvation. Jesus is the way by which man must be saved. The Scriptures state that Jesus is “the way, the truth, and the life” and that “no one comes to the Father but through [Him]” (John 14:6). An incorrect understanding of creation therefore does not remove or rebuke legitimate salvation. Concerning the second question, the theodicy offered here suggests that not only is there a real reason for the Christian to doubt the theory of evolution, there are real reasons. The Creeds that define Christianity, for example, arguably restrict evolution
Ibid., 550. Emphasis added.
57 from being considered as compatible with the faith,194 and more importantly, a correct exegetical understanding of the Genesis account on the creation of man arguably forbids the theory of evolution as being compatible with Christianity.195 Plantinga has noted that “it is not incompatible for theism and evolution to coexist,” which is not philosophically unsatisfactory, however, the thought that Christianity and evolution are not incompatible arguably is, because it includes the notion of a religion that exegetically restricts it, if not creedally. Christianity, in its correct rendering, does not reasonably allow for the theistic evolution of man. The Scriptures and the Christian Creeds arguably discourage the idea.
Plantinga has stated that “Christianity is to be understood by the great creeds of the church (which includes, but is not limited too): The Apostles Creed, the Nicene Creed, the Belgic Confession, the Westminster Confession, and the Baptist Faith & Message” (Criswell College ETS lectures). This is to say that Plantinga argues that these creeds should not, in any way, interfere with the argument of compatibility, for they define part of the premise. Of the Creeds mentioned, three of them speak directly on the creation of man. These are, The Belgic Confession, The Westminster Confession, and the Baptist Faith and Message. Article 14 of The Belgic Confession is entitled The Creation and Fall of Man, and states, “We believe that God created man from the dust of the earth and made and formed him in his image and likeness.”194 Chapter IV of The Westminster Confession states, “After God had made all other creatures, he created man, male and female, with reasonable and immortal souls, endued with knowledge, righteousness, and true holiness after his own image.”194 Article III of The Baptist Faith & Message 2000 states, “Man is the special creation of God, made in His own image.” Each creed surmises the same claim, that God “created man in His own image.” The question then is raised concerning the interpretation of this claim. Generally speaking, the Creeds can be interpreted in one of two ways. First, it can be taken that God created man “from the dust of the earth,” which is to say, specially, or, not by evolution. Or second, it can be taken that “after God made all other creatures, he created man,” and that this creation of man was by the modification of genetic mutation, governed by God. The problem with this second interpretation is that none of these “great Creeds of the church” suggest the idea of theistic evolution. Genesis 2:7 seems to be the most straightforward verse regarding God’s creation of man. In interpreting this verse, Kenneth Gangel and Stephen Bramer have written, “This verse says that God formed the man from the dust of the ground. The Hebrew verb for “formed” is commonly used of the work of a potter with clay (e.g., Job 33:6; Isa. 45:9; Jer. 18:6). It conveys the idea of molding and shaping with careful, loving care. It is a new word for Genesis. The Hebrew words used in the first account to describe the creation of man and animals include “make” (asah) and “create” (bara) (Gen. 1:26-27). Here God acts as the potter taking clay or soil and forming man. [Furthermore], man is a combination of dust and divinity. Genesis 2:7 goes on to say that the Lord God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being. It was God who gave man a life unique to mankind. Animals had life too, but man had a portion of deity within him because he was made ‘in the image of God.’” (Kenneth Gangel and Stephen Bramer, Holman Old Testament Commentary (Nashville: B&H Publishers, 2002), 26-27.)
58 It is important to remember that in Christian philosophy, the Bible must always remain the standard by which all truth is measured. When one strays from this, philosophy has the potential of becoming a religion in and of itself, and moreover, a religion without a standard of accountability. Brian Leftow summarized this thought well in writing, “I am a philosopher because I am a Christian.”196
Universal Salvation It is safe to argue that Hick disagreed with Irenaeus concerning the veracity of Scripture and the image of God in man, but he also disagreed with his patron saint’s eschatology. Hick noted, quite accurately, that any viable theodicy must include an eschatological statement: “I…do not see how any coherent theodicy can avoid dependence upon an eschatology.”197 Hick purports the eschatological concept known as universal salvation which is seen in his belief that “the reality of a limitlessly loving and powerful deity must incorporate some kind of eschatology according to which God holds in being the creatures whom God has made for fellowship with himself, beyond bodily death, and brings them into the eternal fellowship which God has intended for them.”198 Concerning this, he has moreover written, If the justification of evil within the creative process lies in the limitless and eternal good of the end state to which it leads, then the completeness of the justification must depend upon the completeness, or universality, of the salvation achieved. Only if it includes the entire human race can it justify the sins and sufferings of the entire human race throughout all history. But, having given human beings cognitive freedom, which in turn makes possible moral freedom, can the Creator bring it
Thomas Morris ed., God and the Philosophers (New York: Oxford Press, 1995), quote located on the back cover. Michael Peterson, William Hasker, Bruce Reichenbach, and David Basinger, Philosophy of Religion (New York: Oxford Press, 2007), 352.
198 197 196
59 about that in the end all his human creatures freely turn to God in love and trust? The issue is a very difficult one; but I believe that it is in fact possible to reconcile a full affirmation of human freedom with a belief in the ultimate universal success of God’s creative work. We have to accept that creaturely freedom always occurs within the limits of a basic nature that we did not ourselves choose; for this is entailed by the fact of having been created. If then a real though limited freedom does not preclude our being endowed with a certain nature, it does not preclude our being endowed with a basic Godward bias, so that, quoting from another side of St. Augustine’s thought, “our hearts are restless until they find their rest in Thee.”199 If this is so, it can be predicted that sooner or later, in our own time and in our own way, we shall all freely come to God; and universal salvation can be affirmed, not as a logical necessity but as the contingent but predictable outcome of the process of the universe, interpreted theistically.200 Hick attempts to complete his Soul-Making Theodicy by suggesting that ultimately, every soul will be perfectly made complete in salvation. He opposes the idea of a “heaven and hell” eschatology, or even the idea of “annihilationism.”201 Ultimately, for his Soul-Making Theodicy to work, every soul must experience God’s ultimate love in eternity, which is the very reason for the existence of evil. Philosophically, this is not necessarily unsound, but theologically, the thought experiences some difficulties. The evident descriptions of Hell in the Scriptures initially provide satisfactory objections; however, these are arguably philosophically and theologically negotiable depending on one’s interpretation. Hick argues that if the existence of evil is justified by the end—and for Hick that end is eternity with God—then that end must be realized. If it is not realized by every person, then Hick argues that the Soul-Making Theodicy fails. The theodicy offered in this thesis does include a viable eschatological suggestion, but that suggestion
The Confessions of St. Augustine, trans. F. J. Sheed (New York: Sheed and Ward, 1942), Bk. 1, chap. 1, p. 3. Michael Peterson, William Hasker, Bruce Reichenbach, and David Basinger, Philosophy of Religion (New York: Oxford Press, 2007), 353.
60 includes the notion that some souls will not experience eternity with God. It is not necessarily unsatisfactory to suggest that because every soul doesn’t experience the fullness of soul-making (i.e., salvation), that the entire argument fails. Hick’s argument seemingly becomes unsound because he sacrifices freedom, a tenet that is dear to his argument, to purport universal salvation. Moreover, surely it is not unsatisfactory to suggest that while soul-making characteristics are offered to all, and that many will obtain them, that not everyone will experience the totality and conclusion of this offer. Specifically, the theodicy offered here argues a rendering of the Soul-Making Theodicy that suggests a contribution to the problem of evil, not necessarily the solution of it. The foundational solution is best seen, arguably, in Gordon Clark’s theodicy. While Hick argues that his Soul-Making Theodicy is a justifiable conclusive solution to the problem of God and evil, the theodicy offered in this thesis proposes an Ireneaen (in terms of Scripture), Augustinian (in terms of the image of God), and Clarkian (in terms of God’s involvement with evil) approach to the problem of evil, that suggests that God oversees evil in order that man may be edified for His glory. Soul-making is not extended to the origins of the evolutionary process, or to the ends of universal salvation, but instead to the beginning of God’s sovereignty of the fall, and to the end of eternity with Christ. The eschatological claim here suggests that while some will never experience the fullness of what a soul can become in Christ, that those who will will be better for it. That is, the experiences on earth—particularly evil and the decision to follow Christ—will not be forgotten once the soul enters into eternity. This is notably true if that soul-making property is faithfulness, and especially true if that faithfulness is directed to an omnipotent, omnibenevolent Deity who is ever-faithful to mankind.
An Eschatological Approach – The Second Coming Hick is correct in writing, “I…do not see how any coherent theodicy can avoid dependence upon an eschatology.”202 The eschatological suggestion offered in this thesis’ rendering of Hick’s Soul-Making Theodicy argues that all evil will be justified on the day of Christ’s return, upon the establishment of His millennial Kingdom on earth, and in the rest of eternity with God. Revelation 19:11-16 best details this event: And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war. His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems; and He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself. He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses. From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty. And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, "KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS." Tim Lahye has written of this event that it is, …the most thrilling event in all of human history. It will be that moment in time when our Lord Jesus Christ returns to this earth in power and great glory to set up His kingdom that will last 1000 years, the final event prior to the new heavens and the new earth in eternity. From a prophetic standpoint, it will be the culmination of all prophecy. At least 325 prophecies of Christ’s second coming guarantee it will take place, and this event will usher in the most ideal conditions on earth since the Garden of Eden.203 The notion of the justification of evil on the day of the second coming of Jesus Christ supports the aforementioned characteristic of faithfulness. As Lahaye noted, this is arguably one of the main Scriptural truths for the Christian. If Christ is not faithful in His return, then evil has no justification, but if Christ does remain faithful in His return,
Ibid., 352. Tim Lahaye and Thomas Ice, Charting the End Times (Eugene: Harvest House Publishers,
62 then the soul will be made complete when it is perfected in unity with Him in a Kingdom that includes no evil, in which man remembers his earthly life that built his soul toward this new era. The Apostle Paul has written that if “Christ has not been raised…faith is worthless” (1 Corinthians 15:17). This statement can be attributed to the second coming and the faithfulness of God. If Christ is not faithful in His promised return, then the soulmaking process is “worthless.” This is moreover a philosophically satisfying argument, which will be seen in the following discussion concerning the soul-making characteristic known as faithfulness.
CHAPTER 4 Faithfulness as a Viable Soul-Making Characteristic While the general notion of Hick’s Soul-Making Theodicy is valuable, it experiences both philosophical and theological difficulties, especially in what is considered conservative theology. Hick argues a mythical-scriptural, evolutionary, universal-salvific theodicy that is not advocated in this thesis. Instead, a literal-scriptural, Augustinian imago Dei, exclusive-salvific rendering of Hick’s theodicy is suggested. This is shown to arguably be both philosophically and theologically consistent. In this chapter, this Soul-Making Theodicy rendering will be enhanced by the theological virtue known as faithfulness.
The Four Cardinal Virtues A virtue is a “disposition or character trait that is itself an excellence or good or that tends to lead to what is good, with moral virtues being those excellences that foster human flourishing.”204 The value of virtue is something that has permeated society for ages. C. Stephen Evans has written, In ancient and medieval philosophy ethical thinking centered on the virtues—what they are, how they are related and how they are to be achieved. The medievals accepted the cardinal virtues of the ancient world (wisdom, justice, courage, temperance) and added to them the three principal Christian virtues (faith, hope and love). Both ancient and medieval thinkers tied their account of the virtues as leading to human flourishing to accounts of human nature. Recent ethical theory has seen a rediscovery of the importance of the virtues and the development of virtue theory,
C. Stephen Evans, Pocket Dictionary of Apologetics & Philosophy of Religion (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2002), 121.
64 which holds that concepts of the virtues are basic to ethics and not reducible to claims about moral duties or what is impersonally valuable.205 Christian tradition suggests four “cardinal virtues,” which were arguably first developed by Plato in Protagoras.206 These virtues are justice, prudence, temperance, and fortitude. The term “cardinal” comes from the Latin word for “hinge,” which suggests that the moral life must hinge upon these virtues. These virtues were eventually adopted, and adapted, by Ambrose, Augustine, and Aquinas. The virtues are also identified in the classes of Plato’s city in his work, The Republic: Temperance was associated with the farmers and craftsmen; fortitude was assigned to the warrior class; prudence was reserved for the rulers; justice was the transcendent virtue which governed the other three. According to most philosophies, these virtues hold an important place in society, and therefore affect the problem of God and evil.
Theological Virtues Scripture conveys three theological virtues. These are faith, hope, and love. These virtues are communicated in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians: “But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13). Paul moreover communicates the Christian emphasis upon character and virtue in his letter to the Galatians: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23). Ron Nash has written that “A major function of the Christian ethic is the development of character and virtue. Any person could on occasion appear to obey God’s moral law while inwardly
Ibid. See Protagoras 330b
65 surrendering to evil motives. It is important that believers attain the appropriate virtues, that is, a disposition to behave in a moral way, a loving way.”207
The Virtue of Faithfulness The pursuit of virtue has been an important philosophical concept since its origins in Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. Most agree that obtaining a quality that makes one a better person is a good thing, and most furthermore agree that the four cardinal virtues represent four of the greatest qualities an individual can achieve. The theological virtues—faith, hope, and love—have also been widely accepted among philosophers as worthwhile virtues. This thesis argues that the value of obtaining virtuous characteristics helps justify the existence of evil. Although faith is primarily considered a theological virtue, it is not unreasonable to suggest that the virtue is valuable outside of that context. That is, faithfulness toward fellow-man, to self, and to other areas of life is a good thing. With this said, it is important to understand that this virtue is best expressed and totally fulfilled when it exists in a theological context and is expressed in the realm of Christianity. This is essentially what Augustine argued. “While Augustine is well aware of the prominence of the four cardinal virtues in Greek ethical thinking, he offers a corrective from his perspective as a Christian thinker. Unless the cardinal virtues of unbelievers result from their desire to love and honor God, the best of pagan virtues will be reduced to ‘splendid vices.’”208 For
Ronald Nash, Life’s Ultimate Questions (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1999), 162.
Ibid., (Augustine, The City of God 19.25, in The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers (NPNF). This multivolume nineteenth-century work was reprinted in 1956 by the Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids.)
66 Augustine, an unbeliever’s search for virtue is motivated by his selfish pride. Augustine offers an insight on the relationship between the four cardinal virtues and Christian love: Temperance is love keeping itself entire and uncorrupt for God; fortitude is love bearing everything readily for the sake of God; justice is love serving God only, and therefore ruling well all else, as subject to man; prudence is love making a right distinction between what helps it toward God and what might hinder it.209 Bigham and Mollegen advance Augustine’s claim in writing that, “The four pagan virtues are transformed into Christian virtues only when faith (that by which we love God not yet seen) and hope (that by which we love what we have not yet reached) and love (which remains when faith has become sight, and hope has been realized) undergird them.”210 Faith has been observed as “that attitude of trust in God, including beliefs about God and his goodness, that is essential to a right relationship with God.”211 Hebrews 11:1 is likely the most oft quoted verse in Scripture concerning faith. It reads, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” This observation and this verse express the notion of faithfulness toward God, and inherently, express the notion that God is also faithful. The motivating reason to be faithful to God is because He is faithful in return. Moreover, if God is omnipotent and omnibenevolent, as LPE suggests, then it is not unreasonable to suggest that God is always faithful, even in man’s unfaithfulness. Therefore, it is not unreasonable to suggest that while faithfulness is a good virtue, it is best realized when it is directed towards an ever-faithful deity—God. In this understanding, it is moreover not unreasonable to suggest that growing in faithfulness toward God is a justifiable reason for the existence of evil, both
Augustine, On the Morals of the Catholic Church. 19-25. Bigham and Mollegen, “The Christian Ethic,” 377.
C. Stephen Evans, Pocket Dictionary of Apologetics & Philosophy of Religion (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2002), 43.
67 moral and natural. This also provides a rare response to EPE and gratuitous evils, for faith is best tested when the reasons of said evil are unknown. This furthermore echoes the Clarkian influence purported in this Soul-Making Theodicy rendering because it places the ultimate emphasis upon the glory of God. Augustine summarizes this in his well-known saying, “Love [God] and do as what thou wilt…let the root of love be within, of this root can nothing spring but what is good.”212 “Augustine meant that if we truly love God, what we will then desire to do and choose to do will be what will please the just and holy God.”213
Faithfulness in Scripture A rendered Soul-Making Theology based on a theological virtue would not be of much value—at least practically and in Christendom—unless it was actually expressed and supported by the Bible. With this said the prophet Habakkuk expresses the virtue of faithfulness in his dialogue with God as recorded in his Old Testament book. The book of Habakkuk is a conversation between the prophet and God concerning evil. The book begins with Habakkuk crying out, “How long, O Lord, will I call for help, and You will not hear?” (Habakkuk 1:2) Habakkuk essentially declares that the Lord is disguised, that evil is intensified, and that the law is therefore paralyzed (Habakkuk 1:1-4). God responds in an unusual way. He tells Habakkuk to “Look among the nations…because I am doing something” (Habakkuk 1:5). This “something” was the raising up of the Chaldeans, those “fierce and impetuous people,” who are “dreaded and feared,” who “come for violence…[mocking] at kings…[laughing] at every fortress…
Epistle of St. John, Homily 7.8; On Nature and Grace 70 (84), and On Christian Doctrine
Ronald Nash, Life’s Ultimate Questions (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1999), 163.
68 [heaping] up rubble” (Habakkuk 1:6-10). Habakkuk was naturally confused at such a declaration. How could an omnipotent and omnibenevolent God conceive—and dictate—such evil? He responded, “Your eyes are too pure to approve evil, and You can not look on wickedness with favor. Why do You look with favor on those who deal treacherously?” (Habakkuk 1:13). Habakkuk’s final statement in his second response, however, is of the upmost importance—“I will keep watch to see what He will speak to me, and how I may reply when I am reproved” (Habakkuk 2:1). God was orchestrating an evil event in order that Habakkuk—and Judah—could obtain the virtuous characteristic of faithfulness, and the process was evidentially beginning in the prophet. God’s response to Habakkuk’s second cry suggests the Clarkian theodicy as well as the virtue of faithfulness and why it is best expressed when directed toward God. The Lord expresses first that “the righteous will live by faith” (Habakkuk 2:4). This is a direct reference to the virtue purported in this Soul-Making rendering. God moreover tells Habakkuk that “the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea” (Habakkuk 2:14). This is another reference to faithfulness, suggesting the need to be faithful to God’s promises. God lastly encourages Habakkuk, informing Him that He is indeed omnipotent: “the Lord is in His holy temple. Let all the earth be silent before Him” (Habakkuk 2:20). Habakkuk responds by declaring a psalm to God, stating that he will “wait quietly for the day of distress,” a far cry from his initial plead of “How long, O Lord” (Habakkuk 3:16). Habakkuk ends his psalm and his dialogue with the Lord by proclaiming that, Though the fig tree should not blossom and there be no fruit on the vines, though the yield of the olive should fail and the fields produce no food, though the flock should be cut off from the fold and there be no cattle in the stalls, Yet I will exult in the Lord, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation (Habakkuk 3:17-18).
This is a vivid example of the kind of faithfulness purported in this rendered SoulMaking Theodicy—faithfulness to an ever-faithful, omnipotent God, who desires the best for man. This is an example of a biblical event in which an individual obtained the virtue of faithfulness, and moreover an illustration of how this faithfulness is best expressed when it is directed towards an ever-faithful Deity. In essence, this SoulMaking rendering suggests that one of the highest soul-making characteristics available is faithfulness towards God’s faithfulness. This is not an unreasonable contribution to the problem of God and evil.
The Existence of an Omnipotent and Omnibenevolent God LPE and EPE argue on the premise that God is omnipotent and omnibenevolent. This is based on the theological claims derived from the Scriptures. Because LPE and EPE argue that the existence of evil thwarts the notion that God is omnipotent and omnibenevolent, it is important to review two of the leading philosophical arguments that help support these claims—the Teleological and Moral arguments for the existence of God. This is also important because the rendered SoulMaking Theodicy argued in this thesis also depends on the notion of an omnipotent and omnibenevolent God. When paired with the virtue of faithfulness, these characteristics become vital because sometimes the reasons for evil are not necessarily ascertainable. Both the Teleological and Moral arguments philosophically purport the existence of an omnipotent and omnibenevolent God.
Teleological Argument The teleological argument is “an argument for the existence of God that takes as its starting point the purposive character of the universe.”214 This argument is often referred to as the “argument from design.” Its name is developed from the Greek word telos meaning “end” or “purpose.” The teleological argument is therefore the study of the purpose of the universe.
C. Stephen Evans, Pocket Dictionary of Apologetics & Philosophy of Religion (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2002), 113.
71 The teleological argument has its origins in the ancient Greeks, such as Plato and Aristotle, who argued for the existence of God based on their observations of the stars. Thomas Aquinas used this argument as one of his five ways of proving the existence of God.215 In 1802 William Paley “published what is probably the most famous articulation of the argument.”216 The analogy is detailed in the following: In crossing a heath, suppose I pitched my foot against a stone, and were asked how the stone came to be there; I might possibly answer, that, for anything I knew to the contrary, it had lain there forever: nor would it perhaps be very easy to show the absurdity of this answer. But suppose I had found a watch upon the ground, and it should be inquired how the watch happened to be in that place; I should hardly think of the answer I had before given, that for anything I knew, the watch might have always been there. (...) There must have existed, at some time, and at some place or other, an artificer or artificers, who formed [the watch] for the purpose which we find it actually to answer; who comprehended its construction, and designed its use. (...) Every indication of contrivance, every manifestation of design, which existed in the watch, exists in the works of nature; with the difference, on the side of nature, of being greater or more, and that in a degree which exceeds all computation.217 Paley’s analogy “tries to show that when we observe nature, whether on a tiny level (like cells or proteins) or on a grand scale (like whole organisms or even the universe), we can see precision and intentionality, a purpose, a plan. And from that observation we can infer that there must be an intelligence behind it all.”218 Concerning the design of the universe, a scientist has written, There are no facts yet wrested from the intriguing mysteries of this strange, onrushing cosmos which can in any degree disprove the existence and intelligent activities of an unconditioned, personal God. On the contrary, when as careful
Thomas Aquinas, Great Books of the Western World, vol. 19, Summa Theologica (Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica, 1952), 14.
Doug Powell, Holman Quicksource Guide to Christian Apologetics (Nashville: Holman,
2006), 51. William Paley, Natural Theology(London: J. Faulder, 1809, 12th edition), 1-8; (Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Humanities Text Initiative, 1998), 1-8, online at http://www.hti.umich.edu/cgi/p/pd-modeng/pd-modeng-idx?type=header&id=paleynatur.
Doug Powell, Holman Quicksource Guide to Christian Apologetics, 50.
72 scientists we analyze and synthesize the data of scientists we analyze and synthesize the data of the natural world, even by analogical inference, we are observing only the phenomena of the operations of that unseen Being who cannot be found by mere scientific seeking, but who can and did manifest Himself in human form. For science is indeed “watching God work.”219 The apologist Doug Powell has noted, Naturalism can only account for so much; at a certain point its explanatory power fails. But it is not this failure that points to an intelligent designer (the so-called “God of the gaps” theory). The precision of the universe, the nature of information, and the observation that random and undirected forces cannot account for the complexity of living things all lead to a transcendent, personal, intelligent designer.220 The teleological argument is a reasonable philosophical argument that suggests that the universe conveys meaning and purpose, which therefore leads one to consider that there must be an intelligent, and perhaps omnipotent, deity behind it all. The scientist Allan Sandage has notably written, The world is too complicated in all its parts and interconnections to be due to chance alone. I am convinced that the existence of life with all its order in each of its organisms is simply too well put together. Each part of a living thing depends on all its other parts to function. How does each part know? How is each part specified at conception? The more one learns of biochemistry the more unbelievable it becomes unless there is some type of organizing principle—an architect for believers.221
The Moral Argument The moral argument for God’s existence suggests that “God must exist as the ground of the moral order (or some aspect of that order, such as moral obligations) or as
Merritt Stanley Congdon, “The Lesson of the Rosebush,” in The Evidence of God in an Expanding Universe, ed. John Clover Monsma (New York: Putnam, 1958), 35-36.
Doug Powell, Holman Quicksource Guide to Christian Apologetics (Nashville: Holman,
2006), 68. Allan Sandage, “A Scientist Reflects on Religious Belief,” available online at Leadership U., http://www.leaderu.com/truth/1truth15.html.
73 the explanation of certain moral facts.”222 Someone has asked, “Are right and wrong objective realities with claims on all people at all times, or are they subjective realities only—matters of opinion? Was Adolph Hitler evil or did he simply have a different opinion about things?”223 The moral argument tries to show that moral values are indeed objective, and that these values must therefore come from a moral law giver who is a “transcendent, personal being for whom human actions and motives are not a matter of indifference.”224 The moral argument is in direct opposition to the theory of relativism which “holds that societies and/or individuals decide what is right and wrong and that those values vary from culture to culture or person to person. There are no objective, universal moral truths—just conventions for behavior that are created by people for people and that are subject to change.”225 In defending moral law, Caner and Hindson have noted three valuable observations: (1) denying moral law is self-defeating; (2) without moral law, moral disagreements would be senseless; (3) without moral law, moral judgments would be meaningless. These observations help purport the veracity of the Moral argument.
Denying Moral Law is Self-Defeating Moral relativists claim that in matters of morality, there are no objective truths or values. To claim that all moral truths are relative, however, is self-defeating. “A statement is self-defeating when what is being affirmed fails to meet its own
C. Stephen Evans, Pocket Dictionary of Apologetics & Philosophy of Religion (Downers Grove: InterVaristy Press, 2002), 77.
Ibid., 71. Ibid., 72. Ibid.
74 requirements. The statement ‘All truth is relative’ is itself an absolute claim for truth.”226 Therefore, it is not unreasonable to suggest that moral law—and arguably a moral law giver—exists.
Without Moral Law, Moral Disagreements Would Be Senseless Without moral law, moral disagreements are a senseless exercise. Most arguments consist of moral truth claims such as “You’re wrong!” or “That’s not fair!” However, these types of statements lose value if there is no objective moral code. C.S. Lewis points out that what is interesting about these kinds of remarks is that “the man who makes them is not merely saying that the other man’s behavior does not please him. He is appealing to some kind of standard of behavior which he expects the other man to know about.”227 Caner and Hindson appropriately note, Interestingly enough, when it comes to a dispute on morals, the disagreeing party does not attack the standard to which he is making his appeal. Rather, he tries to show how his position does not violate or is an exception to the standard. Thus, true moral disagreements are not possible without an absolute moral standard. Without absolutes, all moral disagreements would be reduced to matters of personal opinion or taste.228 The Apostle Paul also advocated the moral law in writing, For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these not having the Law, are a law to themselves, in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them (Romans 2:14-15).
Ed Hindson and Ergun Caner, The Popular Encyclopedia of Apologetics (Eugene: Harvest House Publishers, 2008), 354.
Ibid., 355. Ibid.
Without Moral Law, Moral Judgments Would Be Meaningless “Without moral law, not only would moral disagreements be senseless, but also moral judgments would be meaningless.”229 A philosopher has suggested, concerning this, that the statement “Torturing babies is wrong,” for example would become mere opinion as opposed to universally, objectively wrong. Without a universal moral law, it becomes impossible to claim any difference between the lives of Adolph Hitler and Mother Teresa, and no one could “express the truth that terrorism, murder, rape, and slavery are wrong, and that honesty, truthfulness, and benevolence are right.” Without objective morality, all moral claims become mere matters of opinion. All of these statements suggest that it is not unreasonable to suggest that because an objective moral law exists, that there therefore must be a moral law giver, and that moral law giver is arguably omnibenevolent. The teleological and moral arguments for the existence of God arguably convey the notion that an omnipotent and omnibenevolent God exists. If this is the case, and it is, then it is not unsatisfactory to argue that a rational theodicy must exist that defends these claims. For centuries, philosophers have offered these theodicies, some of which have satisfactorily contributed to what is known as the problem of God and evil.
An Overview of a Rendered Soul-Making Theodicy John Hick provides a valuable contribution to the problem of God and evil in his Soul-Making Theodicy, but the argument experiences philosophical and theological difficulties. These difficulties have been outlined throughout the course of this thesis. With this said, it is difficult to achieve an argument for LPE and EPE that doesn’t experience objections. The problem of God and evil will always be a topic of question and controversy, but this doesn’t mean that satisfactory contributions are not possible. The theodicy purported in this thesis argues not necessarily for a solution to the problem of God and evil, but for a satisfactory contribution to the justification of its existence. The theodicy is soul-making insofar as it suggests that God desires to grow man in the knowledge of His grace and truth. This God is both omnipotent and omnibenevolent in the highest interpretation of the terms. He created man in His image, but that image was disrupted by sin, which is something that He foresaw. This does not diminish His omnipotence, for He sovereignly predestined creation to fall. It moreover does not diminish His goodness, for He oversees evil for the greatest good, which will ultimately be realized in eternity. This is to say that if an omnipotent and omnibenevolent God exists, it is not unreasonable to suggest that He has a higher knowledge and purpose than mankind, and this knowledge and purpose cannot be fully ascertained in this limited world. The virtue of faithfulness, while a stand-alone worthy characteristic and soul-
77 making property, is best realized when it is expressed toward an ever-faithful deity. That is, if an omnipotent, omnibenevolent, and ever-faithful God exists, then learning to be faithful to that God is a justifiable reason for the existence of evil in this world, for God is utilizing the evil in His own sovereign way for His own greater good, which is not logically inconsistent with the meaning of the terms. One may call this rendering the Augustinian Soul-Making Theodicy, although it includes Clarkian influence in terms of freedom. One objection that can be offered against this soul-making rendering is an attack on the omnipotence of God, who arguably could have provided a different kind of method in developing the soul as opposed to allowing evil. This objection is contested, however, when one understands omnipotence in the purest of interpretations, and moreover, in a proper understanding of the eschatological context that an individual who follows Christ will exist in for eternity. These soul-making properties will not be lost as man enjoys eternity with the “lamb” who was “foreknown before the foundation of the world” (1 Peter 1:19-20).
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