Long, Thomas G., What Shall We Say? Evil, Suffering, and The Crisis of Faith. Wm B.

Eerdmans Publishing Company; Grand Rapids. 2011.

Chapter Three: Road Hazards

How one frames the question of theodicy is essential for both a proper approach and an intelligible questing. Long, therefore, addresses the framing of the issue in the third chapter of his magnificent volume. Put in a sentence, the „god‟ constructed by philosophical speculation isn‟t God. … the God of Enlightenment theism, is a philosophical construct, a deity who, to use theologian Walter Kasper‟s phrase, is an “abstract … unipersonal God who stands over against [humanity] as the perfect Thou” (pp. 49-50). Such a god is really nothing more than an idol. Little wonder, then, that the Bart Ehrmans of the world cannot worship such a creature. Who would want to? Christians don‟t. The Bible does not ask, “I see that the wicked prosper. I wonder if there‟s a God?” but “O God, why do the wicked prosper?” As Paul Tillich once put it, “God cannot be reached if he is the object of the question and not its basis” (p. 52-53). Long cleverly continues, giving examples of the ways in which the question of theodicy is wrongly posed by philosophers and speculators. All along the way he reinforces the central theme of this brief section- the God of Christian faith, the God revealed in Scripture, has nothing in common with the „god‟ of disbelief, atheism, or agnosticism. That „god‟ is a non-existent beast created in the image of its creators. Long concludes the chapter with a return to the theme of the volume- the theodicy problem. The task of theodicy, then, is not to solve a logical problem in philosophy, but instead to repair a faithful but imperiled worldview (p. 55). In the next installment, Long takes us on pilgrimage.

Jim West Quartz Hill School of Theology