UK Christian Bookshops Directory: Christian Book Reviews: The Message of Evil and Suffering
The Message of Evil and Suffering The Message of Evil and Suffering
Light into Darkness (Bible Speaks Today Series: Biblical Themes)

Peter Hicks
ISBN 9781844741489 (1844741486)
IVP, 2006

Category: Biblical Studies

I approached this book with interest, aware of Hicks' reputation for philosophy and expecting some deep reflections that would expand my thinking on this thorny issue. I wasn't disappointed, but I'd forgotten that Peter is also a seasoned Church minister and brings great pastoral experience to bear.

The Message of Evil and Suffering is the fruit of deep reflection on Scripture, personal and pastoral experience and intellectual insight. It goes far beyond a philosophical treatment of this subject, instead demanding an authentically Christian response to evil and suffering. Hicks asserts that the root of evil is the denial of God's right to be God and demonstrates that when God is usurped in this way suffering becomes overwhelming and meaningless; a thing to be avoided at all costs. Sadly, it seems that many Christians view suffering in this way.

To correct this nihilistic fear of suffering, most of the book is taken up with a sensitive application of the biblical metanarrative to the central theme of evil and suffering. This yields satisfyingly counter-cultural results. Comfortable Western Christians may baulk at the idea, but Hicks ably proves that suffering is the natural lot of the Christian and may lead to very positive outcomes where it is understood and responded to properly: certainly the New Testament would teach us that if we have no suffering at all to undergo then we are underprivileged, deprived of God-given opportunities to follow our Master and Teacher and walk with Christ on the road he trod.

There is some material to please those who wish to reflect dispassionately on the problem of evil and suffering. However, this is not an academic study. Hicks makes the most of the opportunity to challenge the lukewarm, complacent, comfortable Christianity of the West. If we allow the Bible to speak to us on this issue today then we'll be faithful, mature disciples of the suffering servant who is our teacher and our example.

James Collins, April 2007

James Collins is a research student at London School of Theology.

Previously published by London School of Theology. Reused here by kind permission.


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