Why does God permit senseless suffering? If God is good and all-powerful, why does evil exist? The problem of evil perennially vexes theology, but many theologians have abandoned the project of theodicy, or the theological explanation of evil, as either fruitless or hopeless. Academic studies on theodicy, moreover, typically succumb to theological deficiency and abstraction, often devoid of any concrete connection to Christian life and practice. In Pathways in Theodicy, designed for students and scholars alike, Mark S. M. Scott reinvigorates stalled debates in philosophy and theology through a detailed reassessment of the problem of evil and the task of theodicy and through a careful analysis of the major models and motifs in theodicy.
Scott explores the strengths and weaknesses of classic and contemporary perspectives on the problem of evil and invites readers to assess the cogency and relevance of each on their own. Rather than promoting a single perspective, Pathways in Theodicy explores the plurality of options available to treat the problem of evil and the provisional and tentative nature of theodicy, which searches not for final, definitive solutions but for viable ways to move the conversation forward.
This is a rich and systematic analysis of the problem of evil as it presents itself in Christian thought, and one open to dialogue with other religious and moral traditions of reflection. It lucidly probes the strengths and weaknesses of a variety of approaches, and readers will learn a great deal by following Scott along on this sobering but enlightening journey. An excellent resource for the classroom and for a general readership.
University of Virginia
Scott provides an accessible yet comprehensive assessment of the state of theodicy today. Defying cliche theological summaries of sin, evil, and suffering, he offers clear analysis of these interwoven issues and the various contemporary solutions to them. He unmasks lazy assumptions that still predominate in the academy, our culture, and the church. By dealing masterfully with the biblical material, the theological tradition, and philosophical views so thoroughly, Scott gives us a top-notch set of insights and judgments with which to evaluate the most persistent theological problem ever. Highly recommended!
Concordia University, Montreal, Canada
In this engaging book, Mark Scott refuses to give a facile, one-dimensional answer to the problem of evil. He pays careful attention to various dimensions of the problem, from existential relevance to theoretical fruitfulness, discussing different models of theodicy with clarity, grace, fairness, and historical sensitivity. This surefooted survey will be used in my courses on the problem of evil. Highly recommended!
-Paul L. Gavrilyuk,
University of St. Thomas
The problem of evil is not only a classic point of contention in Western intellectual history but a topical one as well. It has found renewed vigor in the writings of philosophers such as Alain Badiou, theologians such as Jurgen Moltmann, and scientists such as Richard Dawkins, but, just as importantly, it meets us whenever we scan the news headlines. The value of Mark Scotts book, Pathways in Theodicy, is that it offers an accessible yet thorough introduction to theodicy and thereby facilitates our engagement with the issue going forward, whether in public debates or in our own lives. Its importance, then, ranges beyond the academic to the deeply spiritual.
-Christopher B. Barnett,
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