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The Many Faces of Evil (Revised and Expanded Edition): Theological Systems and the Problems of Evil by [Feinberg, John S.]
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About the Author

John S. Feinberg (PhD, University of Chicago) is department chair and professor of biblical and systematic theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He is the author of Ethics for a Brave New World (with Paul D. Feinberg) and is general editor of Crossway's Foundations of Evangelical Theology series.


Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 2944 KB
  • Print Length: 548 pages
  • Publisher: Crossway; Revised and Expanded ed. edition (6 May 2004)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0028CFYPO
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,689,401 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Amazon.com: 4.8 out of 5 stars 14 reviews
40 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive Analysis from an Evangelical Perspective 16 Oct. 2004
By J. F Foster - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
It is clear from this book that the problem of evil has long been a pressing concern of John Feinberg. What started out as a doctoral dissertation many years ago has morphed into an effective and mostly comprehensive exploration of this perennial problem from an evangelical perspective. While I don't agree with everything Feinberg proposes, I do think evangelicals of all theological stripes will be greatly informed by this book.

Among the strengths of the book is Feinberg's interaction with the ideas of non-evangelicals where the problem of evil is concerned. He effectively and thoughtfully interacts with a number of non-evangelicals as well as skeptics, and this alone is noteworthy. Feinberg seems to be interested in constructive, yet principled dialogue with those outside his own camp, and as an evangelical, it is hoped by this reader that such dialogue will be reciprocated by theological liberals who claim to be interested in such dialogue.

I also thought that Feinberg's view that the problem of evil is actually a series of problemS of evil is penetrating and really helps the comprehensive treatment of the subject that we see here. While I might quibble a bit with the degree to which Feinberg attempts to categorize these various problems, and thus arguably diminishes their interrelated nature, I do think this approach does justice to the issue and helps avoid a facile examination that too often plagues evangelical treatments of the subject. In particular, his 'religious problem of evil', which is really the existential problem of evil, is a valuable and thoughtful addition that evangelical scholarship in the theodicy area has been severely neglectful of. Feinberg deserves a standing ovation for devoting a solid portion of the book to discussing this aspect of the problem of evil, and it is hoped that other evangelicals will wake up and follow Feinberg's lead whenever they address the problem of evil in their writings, classroom lectures, and conversations with those around them.

I also strongly agree with the contention that one's theology will (and should) greatly influence how a Christian (or anyone for that matter) addresses the existence of evil. The problem of evil is not an isolated matter that can be addressed in a vacuum. Our theology should and will greatly inform how we address it, and I think Feinberg is mostly successful in examining how various theological commitments impact on how folks from various theological traditions will handle this particular issue.

The one minor drawback is that in my view, more Biblical exegesis was in order in this book than what I saw. Feinberg's general opposition to the greater-good defense was just one example of an objection that seemed to be based more on philosophical argumentation than exegetical demonstration. I have increasingly noticed that comprehensive scholarly works from evangelical authors that seem intended to go beyond the evangelical subculture and gain an audience among non-evangelicals too often downplay the centrality of the authority of Scripture that must continue to define what it means to be an evangelical. It seems to me that an evangelical work on any topic should be unapologetic in presenting a Biblical argument, since the Bible is (or ought to be) our final authority, even though it is not our lone authority. It seems to me that too many books like this one seem to put the Bible on the sideline in order to gain some respectability among circles of the academy that don't take the Bible seriously (meaning that they don't consider it to be particularly authoritative) and thus don't take traditional evangelicals seriously. Well, such an approach strikes me as an unnecessary capitulation, and I fear to some degree that this is what happened with this particular book. While I greatly appreciate the depth with which Feinberg engages non-evangelical scholarship, what this book needs is a melding of systematics and exegesis that results in systematics being better informed by Scripture.

But this little soapbox quibble aside, the book is, I think, a valuable contribution to the field of 'theodicy' that evangelicals will greatly profit from.
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A comprehensive and important treatment 10 Feb. 2006
By Bill Muehlenberg - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Evil and suffering are perennial problems which baffle theist and atheist alike. But the presence of evil in the world is a real challenge to those who believe in an all-powerful and an all-benevolent God. Thus the problem of evil. Or, as Feinberg makes clear, the problems of evil. For there are many problems.

Thus in this volume Feinberg interacts with a number of theological and philosophical issues surrounding the topic of evil in the world. As such, it is perhaps the most thorough and rigorous evangelical treatment of the problem thus far available.

And it is no lightweight. Those wanting an easy-to-read overview of the issues are urged to look elsewhere. But for those willing to think carefully and critically, this 500-page treatment is top quality.

Since there are many issues involved, Feinberg treats each one in turn. For example, there is the logical or deductive problem of evil. There is the evidential or inductive problem. And evil itself can be broken down, as in moral evil and natural evil. And there are different was of approaching this issues. There is the free-will defense of Augustine and Plantinga. There is the soul-making theodicy of Irenaeus and Hick. There is the best possible world approach of Leibniz, and so on. All of these major approaches - and criticisms of them - are tackled by Feinberg. Feinberg therefore interacts with many dozens of earlier as well as recent thinkers on this issue.

The result is a very thorough and comprehensive treatment of the issue. Feinberg himself comes from a Reformed perspective, and he argues for a position he calls the Modified Rationalist framework. And even that position can be broken down into various versions. So the debate can be quite complex and detailed, and the reader needs patience to follow the discussion all the way through.

But the book is not just one long exercise in intellectual and philosophical rigor. It concludes with two much more down-to-earth chapters. One is a very personal chapter on the religious problem of evil. It deals with a personal tragedy Feinberg had to grapple with, which made him reassess his own approach to evil and suffering.

And a concluding chapter offers ten purposes for, or uses of, suffering. These two chapters help round off this book and make it more accessible and practical to the average reader.

This volume is actually the third edition of his original 1979 version. Every edition adds new and more up-to-date material, and interacts with newer critics along the way. For example, this newest volume contains a lengthy chapter on the problem of hell.

This volume may not be the one to give to someone experiencing a personal tragedy, but it is the volume to give to those who want to be up on the latest philosophical and theological debates on the issue. It is a monumental endeavor and deserves careful reading.
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Evil Explained 12 Dec. 2007
By John Benintendi - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
In the past year or so, I have had many questions concerning God and his role in our lives, if any. I have had many of these questions because of the amount and intensity of evil in the world today. Given these questions, I was looking for a book that had some answers for me. I kept wondering how an all-loving God could allow such evil in the world with the intensity that it is today. I was lucky enough to find this book which has answered many of my questions.

Dr. Feinberg does a wonderful job of explaining that there is not just one problem of evil but there are several. He also clearly states that an answer to one of the problems may not be the answer to another problem. For instance, there is moral/logical problem of evil, the eveidential problem of evil, the problem of hell and the religious problem of evil. The moral problem of evil deals with the seeming inconsistent position that God is all good but there is evil in the world. The evidental problem deals with the argument that the amount of evil or the appearance of gratuitous evil demonstrates that there is no God. The problem of hell deals with the question of how an all good God could punish humans for sins that are finite in nature for eternity. Lastly, the religious problem of evil deals with the question of why bad things happen to good people.

All of these questions are answered in several different ways. The one thing I loved about this book is that Dr. Feinberg sets forth the arguments of atheists and then counters them from many different points of view - theonomy, rationalists, modified rationalists, theists, etc....Dr. Feinberg is not judgmental of the atheistic position (although he disagrees with it) and is not judgmental of those defenses that he disagrees with but do solved the various problems of evil. It was a pleasure to read an author that seems impartial to other views but yet has his own opinions. He also does not state that his position is the correct one. He claims that his system solves the various problems of evil but yet states that other systems do the same even if he does not agree with them.

This book was very well written. However, this is not a book that you can read through like a fiction book. This took me many weeks to read because I liked to think about what I just read. It is a slow read but one that will yield great rewards if one thinks about what one just read. I hope to find more books like this one and this is one that I will probably read again in the future.

If you are having struggles with the presence of evil in this world, then this book is one that I would recommend very stongly. It does take time but it is well worth the time and effort.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive survey of problem of evil 14 May 2007
By Gary in Texas - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Comprehensive survey of philosophical/theological consideration of the conundrum, "If God is good and all powerful, why evil?". While the author admits his Calvinistic beliefs limit his view of free will, he presents other's views openly and fairly. Good survey, although the subject and arguments are difficult to follow sometimes.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thoroughly Exhausting But Well Worth the Effort 11 Jun. 2008
By D. Dean - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Before you purchase this book, understand what you're getting in to. This is not a light read on the presence of evil in the world, but rather a thorough treatise on a multitude of different thoughts, opinions, philosphical defenses and theodicies that exist in the world today. Feinberg does an excellent job in defending the contemporary evangelical view on evil, but is more than gracious in giving others credit where they pose a significant objection to the faith. This is a difficult book to read and will take you a very long time to really digest. It is full of philosophy, theoretic probability, arguments, counterarguments, and the like. It is a wonderful book and one I would heartily endorse to anyone who enjoys philosophizing on complex issues of theodicy. It was an exhausting read and it seemed like it took months to complete. It is well worth the price and you will be much better informed on this hot button issue between theism and atheism that is so prevalent today.
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