I’m delighted to report that the third volume in the Christian Focus series, The Big Ten: Critical Questions Answered, is now available: Why Is There Evil In The World (And So Much Of It)? by series co-editor Greg Welty.
Having been closely involved in the editing process, I’m thrilled to see this book finally in print. The title reflects what may be the most common reason people give for rejecting the Christian faith and doubting the existence of God. It is indeed a critical question that demands an answer.
But isn’t it one Christians have been answering for centuries? Yes, of course. There are many fine works already available on this issue, both ancient and modern, and Welty acknowledges his debt to them. But I think this book fills a particular niche at this time. So many contemporary books on the problem of evil fall down in one or more of the following areas:
- They don’t pay close attention to what the Bible actually says about the nature and origin of evil and suffering in the world, and how they fit into God’s purposes for his creation.
- They end up taking positions that aren’t theologically orthodox (e.g., denying God’s omnipotence or omniscience).
- They engage in philosophical speculations that aren’t tethered to (and sometimes go against) the teachings of the Bible and the creeds of the Christian church.
- They lack clarity and precision at the very points where clarity and precision are needed. They serve up a big fat waffle-burger instead of a lean filet.
- They’re written by authors who lack theological and philosophical training, and who aren’t conversant with the vast scholarly literature on the problem of evil.
- They’re preaching to the choir: helpful for those who already believe, but failing to grapple with real concerns of skeptics.
- They’re either too long-winded to keep the reader’s attention or too cursory to satisfy the reader’s concerns.
- They’re too dry and technical for the layperson.
Why Is There Evil In The World? avoids all these pitfalls. Moreover, Greg is ideally qualified to have written this book. He wasn’t raised in a Christian home, so he knows what it’s like to be a skeptical unbeliever. He earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from the University of California, an MDiv degree from Westminster Seminary California, and MPhil and DPhil degrees in philosophical theology from the University of Oxford, and he has taught seminary courses in Christian apologetics and philosophy of religion for 15 years. He also serves as one of the pastors at Grace Baptist Church in Wake Forest, so he doesn’t live up in the ivory tower!
Here’s the table of contents for the book, which should give you a good idea of how Welty tackles the issue:
- 1. What is the Problem of Evil?
- 2. The Greater-Good Theodicy: A Threefold Argument for Three Biblical Themes
- 3. Licensing the Greater-Good Theodicy: God’s Sovereignty over Evil
- 4. Limiting the Greater-Good Theodicy: The Inscrutability of God’s Purposes
- 5. Can Free Will or the Laws of Nature Solve the Problem of Evil?
- 6. Objections
- Appendix: Going Beyond Job, Joseph and Jesus for the Greater-Good Theodicy
The book has received endorsements from John Frame, Paul Helm, Scott Oliphint, David Robertson, and Mike Kruger, among others. So you don’t have to take it from me — it comes highly recommended! I really hope it will become the go-to book for ‘ordinary’ folk, both believers and skeptics, who are looking for a well-informed and well-argued response to this age-old question.