The question of God’s relationship with evil is a long-running one in the history of Christianity, and the term often used for this task is “theodicy.” The way theodicy has historically been pursued, however, has been problematic on a number of counts. Most significantly, these efforts have generally been insufficiently theological. This work hopes to subvert and reconfigure the theodical task in a way that can be accessible to nonspecialists. Overall, the book hopes to cast the “god” of theodicy as the triune God of Christian confession, a move that shapes and alters all that follows in what has traditionally been considered a philosophical matter.
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“The modern thinker who coined the term ‘theodicy’ in 1710 is Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz.” (Page 4)
“Given a robust account of creation, evil is not a thing per se in that it was not created by God; rather, it is the faulty exercise or appropriation of a good thing, namely free will or self-determination.” (Page 63)
“Epicurus asked the question that often is associated with the idea of theodicy, a question that was stated within modernity by David Hume: ‘Is [God] willing to prevent evil, but not able? then is he impotent. Is he able, but not willing? then is he malevolent. Is he both able and willing? whence then is evil?’2 The idea of divinity provides people with a sense of meaning and purpose in life; the idea of evil, and so absurdity, however, presses against meaningfulness.” (Page 2)
“Evil is most appropriately considered a malady, a corruption, or a sickness. Evil is the state or condition of being anti-God, both in terms of God’s character and God’s purposes, and for that very reason, it is questionable as to its long-term viability and feasibility.” (Page 23)
“Instead of being companions of God, humanity set itself up as a rival to God; they wished to pursue the quality of being God-like on their own terms rather than on God’s. In short, they sought to possess divinity by force and sheer will instead of receiving it as a gift.” (Page 56)
If we are to speak with theological intelligence and Christian compassion about the nature, causes, and overcoming of evil, we must first speak of the God whom Christians confess and in whom they hope. This elegant, perceptive, and gentle book shows us why theology matters in theodicy.
—John Webster, chair of systematic theology, King’s College
This book addresses a timely, critically urgent, and complex topic. Daniel Castelo engages it with grace, humility, and deep understanding. Many books on theodicy read with philosophical detachment. Castelo writes as a Christian theologian fully committed to practicing discipleship. The questions he faces are no mere abstractions, but the stuff of life. Castelo knows exactly when to speak with bold clarity and when to remain reverently silent. Anyone who reads this book will do so with great profit.
—Stephen Rankin, chaplain and minister, Southern Methodist University
Theological Theodicy is a richly textured and accessible exception to the rule of failed theodicies. Informed by the Catholic spiritual-doctrinal tradition and fired by Pentecostal sensibilities, Castelo faces troubling questions and refuses all premature resolutions. With humility and verve, he calls for spirited, virtuous embodiment of the gospel as counter-witness to the evils of this present age.
—Chris Green, assistant professor of theology, Pentecostal Theological Seminary
Daniel Castelo guides readers through a thoughtful and insightful exploration of the problem of suffering. Castelo’s approach honors the mystery of God, who cannot be fully explained and is thus inherently apophatic. His fundamental understanding of evil is a scandalous ‘sickness or malady,’ a condition of anti-godness. With theodicy being perhaps the most pressing issue today—not just in seminary classrooms, but in the world that feels godforsaken—Castelo’s work offers a hopeful and therapeutic vision.
—Elaine A. Heath, McCreless Associate Professor of Evangelism, Southern Methodist University