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Evil and Creation: Historical and Constructive Essays in Christian Dogmatics

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Evil and Creation

“My help comes from the Lord, maker of heaven and earth.”

Evil is an intruder upon a world created by God and declared good. Scripture emphasizes this: laments are regularly juxtaposed with declarations of God as creator. But evil is not merely a problem for the doctrine of creation. Rather, the doctrine of creation provides a hopeful response to evil.

In Evil and Creation, David J. Luy, Matthew Levering, and George Kalantzis collect essays investigating how the doctrine of creation relates to moral and physical evil. Essayists pursue philosophical and theological analyses of evil rather than neatly solving the problem of evil itself. Including contributions from Constantine Campbell, Paul Blowers, and Paul Gavrilyuk, this volume draws upon biblical and patristic voices to produce constructive theology, considering topics ranging from vanity in Ecclesiastes and its patristic interpreters to animal suffering.

Readers will gain a broader appreciation of evil and how to faithfully respond to it as well as a renewed hope in God as creator and judge.

Praise for Evil and Creation

A very welcome collection of essays on the perennial problem of evil, or rather reflections, drawing upon the wide breadth of the Christian tradition, that offer theological responses to the existence of evil and suffering, and their place in creation, and deepen our understanding of the mystery of God and ourselves: a rich feast on which to be nourished!

–Fr. John Behr, Regius Chair of Humanity, University of Aberdeen

Evil is more than a theodicy issue: it has the potential to purify our understanding and so to deepen our theological endeavors. By placing our experience of suffering within a broader theological context, Evil and Creation enhances our understanding of the doctrine of creation. The result is a rich variety of reflections on topics such as evolution, animal death, intellectual disability, sabbath, and covenant.

–Hans Boersma, Saint Benedict Servants of Christ Chair in Ascetical Theology, Nashotah House Theological Seminary

Ever since Hume, “the problem of evil” has widely been seen as the ultimate argument against religious faith: if our world is the creation of a God who is supremely just, supremely loving, and supremely powerful, how can it continue to be so much characterized by unwarranted suffering, and wounded so much by deliberate human malice? Since earliest times, literature has grappled with this question in various forms, the Bible and the Christian theological tradition have struggled to answer it, philosophers secular and religious have continued to address it – without a consistent or conclusive response. This volume brings together a collection of Biblical scholars, students of early Christianity, contemporary theologians, and thoughtful readers of literature who consider again aspects of the relationship of faith to our experience of evil, both individual and universal. The result is consistently informative, widely provocative, and often unsettling – redefining the boundaries of the questions we ask and putting into new light the answers we look for. It is a rich and significant contribution to our continuing search for long-term meaning in our history.

–Brian E. Daly, SJ, Catherine F. Huisking Professor Emeritus, University of Notre Dame

Studies in Historical and Systematic Theology

Studies in Historical and Systematic Theology is a peer-reviewed series of contemporary monographs exploring key figures, themes, and issues in historical and systematic theology from an evangelical perspective.

Learn more about the other titles in this series.

  • Introduction by David Luy and Matthew Levering
  • Part 1: Evil in Early Christian Sources
    • “Judgment of Evil as the Renewal of Creation” by Constantine R. Campbell
    • “Qoheleth and His Patristic Sympathizers on Evil and Vanity in Creation” by Paul M. Blowers
    • “Problem of Evil: Ancient Answers and Modern Discontents” by Paul L. Gavrilyuk
    • “Augustine and the Limits of Evil: From Creation to Christ in the Enchiridion” by Han-luen Kantzer Komline
    • “Augustine on Animal Death” by Gavin Ortlund
  • Part 2: Contemporary Explorations
    • “The Evil We Bury, the Dead We Carry” by Michel René Barnes
    • “Creation and the Problem of Evil after the Apocalyptic Turn” by R. David Nelson
    • “Creation without Covenant, Providence without Wisdom: The Example of Cormac McCarthy’s The Crossing” by Kenneth Oakes
    • “‘The Appearance of Reckless Divine Cruelty’: Animal Pain and the Problem of Other Minds” by Marc Cortez
    • “Recent Evolutionary Theory and the Possibility of the Fall” by Daniel W. Houck
    • “Intellectual Disability and the Sabbath Structure of the Human Person” by Jared Ortiz
  • Title: Evil and Creation: Historical and Constructive Essays in Christian Dogmatics
  • Editors: David Luy, Matthew Levering, & George Kalantzis
  • Publisher: Lexham Press
  • Publication Date: 2020
  • Pages: 280
  • Format: Logos Digital, Paperback
  • Trim Size: 6x9
  • ISBN: 9781683594345

David J. Luy (PhD, Marquette University) is associate professor of biblical and systematic theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He is the author of Dominus Mortis: Martin Luther on the Incorruptibility of Christ.

Matthew Levering (PhD, Boston College) is James N. and Mary D. Perry Jr. Chair of Theology at Mundelein Seminary. He is the author of numerous books, including Participatory Biblical Exegesis, Engaging the Doctrine of Creation, and Dying and the Virtues.

George Kalantzis (PhD, Northwestern University) is professor of theology at Wheaton College and the director of The Wheaton Center for Early Christian Studies. He is the author of Caesar and the Lamb: Early Christian Attitudes on War and Military Science.


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  1. Robert Trube

    Robert Trube


    Summary: An essay collection considering the doctrine of creation and how theologians and others have grappled with the emergence of evil. The doctrine of creation is foundational for so many other elements of Christian theology. That includes our understanding of evil. Often this is posed as a problem. If God is good and all-powerful, and God’s creation is very good, whence evil? This collection of essays considers first early Christian explorations, and then recent thinking from theology, literature and other fields. These are the essays included; Introduction; Evil in Christian Theology, David Luy and Matthew Levering. Two of the editors frame the discussion, noting the trend in modern theology to modify either the classic understanding of God or the destiny of the unrepentant evil. Evil in Early Christian Sources Judgment of Evil as the Renewal of Creation, Constantine R. Campbell. Considering the testimony of Paul, Genesis, Isaiah, Peter, and Revelation, argues that evil is intertwined with creation both in its corruption of creation and the obliteration of evil in the new creation. Qoheleth and His Patristic Sympathizers on Evil and Vanity in Creation, Paul M. Blowers. Outlines the patristic understanding of this book as simultaneous flourishing and languishing, wisdom and vanity pointing toward Christ as the true Ecclesiast. Problem of Evil: Ancient Answers and Modern Discontents, Paul L. Gavrilyuk. A survey of approaches to the problem of evil from ancient to modern times noting six major shifts. Augustine and the Limits of Evil: From Creation to Christ in the Enchiridion, Han-luen Kantzer Komline. Considers how the Enchiridion holds together creation, fall, and Christology in addressing evil. Augustine on Animal Death, Gavin Ortlund. Augustine, it turns out, had no problem with animal suffering and death before, or after, the fall, seeing it “as a beauty to be admired–a cause for praising God more than blaming him. Ortlund assesses both the helpful and unhelpful aspects of this stance. Contemporary Explorations The Evil We Bury, the Dead We Carry, Michel René Barnes. Proposes that evil is an experience, is ineluctable for human beings, and the first evil, which we cannot escape, is the immediate evil of our personal experience. Creation and the Problem of Evil after the Apocalyptic Turn, R. David Nelson. With the contemporary focus on the apocalyptic–the death, resurrection, and in-breaking kingdom-Nelson considers the shift in thinking about evil in light of the creation. Creation without Covenant, Providence without Wisdom: The Example of Cormac McCarthy’s The Crossing, Kenneth Oakes. A reflection on the Cormac McCarthy work, and the response of God to evil in the absence of his covenantal relationship with his people culminating in the incarnation, and a providence that is mere inscrutable purpose apart from wisdom. The Appearance of Reckless Divine Cruelty’: Animal Pain and the Problem of Other Minds, Marc Cortez. Another essay on animal pain, considering the mental experience of suffering through the lens of the philosophical problem of other minds that finds the “no animal suffering view” untenable. Recent Evolutionary Theory and the Possibility of the Fall, Daniel W. Houck. Reviews the traditional “disease” view of the fall in light of evolutionary theory, proposing a Thomist view of the fall as the loss of original justice. Intellectual Disability and the Sabbath Structure of the Human Person, Jared Ortiz. Seeks to retrieve the distinction of person and nature in disability discussions and argues that the powerful impact the disabled often have on others reflects the “sabbath structure” inherent in all of us. As is evident, this is a wide ranging collection of articles loosely tied together by the doctrine of creation and the existence of evil. Perhaps one other thread that connects a number of the articles is the movement from creation to Christ in our attempts to come to terms with evil. In some sense, we never quite find the emergence of evil explicable; it is only the hope of a new creation in Christ that can give meaning to the suffering that often attends evil. The essays on animal suffering and death are important in relating Christian hope to a world where animals are often afforded increasing dignity, as is the moving essay that concludes this volume on disability. Finally, the thread of how we hold ancient understandings in the light of modernity as reflected in philosophy, critical theories, evolutionary science, and literature recurs throughout this collection. Contrary to the tendency warned of in the preliminary essay, these writers do not jettison the scriptures, the councils, and the creeds, even as they grapple with modernity. This is another valuable addition to the Lexham Press’s series of Studies in Historical and Systematic Theology. ____________________________ Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.


Print list price: $29.99
Save $3.00 (10%)