Satan and the Problem of Evil: Constructing a Trinitarian Warfare Theodicy

satan-problem-of-evil-bookAuthor: Gregory A. Boyd

Publisher: InterVarsity Press (2001)

Topic: Theology/ Apologetics: How could a world created by an all-good and all-powerful God become a warzone between good and evil?

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  • Where does evil come from?
  • If there is a sovereign creator God, as Christian faith holds, is this God ultimately responsible for evil?
  • Does God’s sovereignty mean that God causes each instance of sin and suffering?
  • How do Satan, his demons and hell fit into God’s providential oversight of all creation and history?
  • How does God interact with human intention and action?
  • If people act freely, does God know in particular every human decision before the choice is made?

In this important book – the second in his “Satan and Evil” trilogy — Gregory A. Boyd mounts a thorough philosophical and biblical response to these ages-old questions. In contrast to “the blueprint theodicy” that holds that there is a specific divine reason behind each and every event in history, Boyd defends a “Trinitarian warfare worldview” in which all evil is traced back to wills other than God. With rigorous philosophical argumentation, and drawing on insights from Scripture and science, Boyd contends that the problem of evil is unsolvable unless we take seriously the reality of Satan and the spiritual warfare that presently engulfs the cosmos.

Greg’s story behind the writing of Satan and the Problem of Evil: In 1995 I delivered a paper at an academic conference at Wheaton college arguing that the problem of evil is unsolvable unless we take seriously the biblical testimony that our world is afflicted by rebellious Powers (Satan, fallen angels and demons). After my presentation, an very long-haired editor from InterVarsity Press (honestly, it went down to his waist!) named Rodney Clapp approached me and suggested I write a book on my controversial thesis. I jumped at the opportunity. I’d been researching this topic for several years and had grown passionate about the thesis I was defending.

I planned on writing a book that would 1) lay out the biblical view of spiritual warfare; 2) provide a philosophical defense of what I began calling “the warfare worldview”; and 3) trace how this worldview was developed in the early church and how it was eventually lost when the Augustinian “blueprint worldview” became dominant. I thought the book would run two to three hundred pages.

I was very mistaken.

The three objectives became three separate books, forming a “Satan and Evil” triology. God at War was the first book in this series and Satan and the Problem of Evil was the second. (The third, The Myth of the Blueprint, is still in the works). In this second book I present a thorough philosophical defense of “the warfare worldview,” attempting to explain how a world created and sustained by an all-good, all-loving God could become as nightmarishly filled with pain as our present world is.

While this book has stirred no small amount of controversy, I’ve been pleased with the way it’s impacted peoples’ theology. I even know of a number of academic folks who confessed this book helped transition them out of a “blueprint” mindset. It’s been very rewarding.

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