Why Does God Allow Evil? with Clay Jones was probably the most important class I took during my time in the Christian apologetics program at Biola University. Years of pastoring and teaching have allowed him to craft a solid theodicy, a defense of God’s goodness in the face of great evil. And now I’m thrilled that Clay’s course is available to all, translated into book form.
Each of the book’s eleven chapters answers a specific question. The first, “Why Do We Suffer For Adam’s Sin?” explores the origin of evil and why we, thousands of years later, suffer the consequences. Chapter two is the most difficult of all to read, examining “Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People?” This chapter displays the full depravity of mankind through excruciating detail from human history. The following chapter, “Are There No Good People?” follows a similar theme, but from a biblical perspective.
Chapters four and five explore two important objections with eternal consequences: the fate of the unevangelized and the fairness of eternal damnation (hell).
Chapters 6, 7, and 8 center on the free will defense of evil. While free will enables us to inflict pain and suffering on each other, freedom is immensely valuable. Clay uses many examples from popular sci-fi television shows and movies, such as Star Trek and The Matrix, to show that humans greatly value free will and despise being controlled. Chapter 7 examines whether God could have given humans free will yet somehow avoided evil and chapter 8 answers an interesting question: “Will We Have Free Will in Heaven?”
The remaining chapters continue focus on heaven. So much attention is paid to the pain and suffering humans face in this life that sometimes eternal life is ignored. But heaven is as much a part of the Christian worldview as the trouble that is caused because of sin. No matter how great our suffering may be here on earth, it will be nothing in comparison to the pleasures and glory we will enjoy forevermore with God in heaven.
Why Does God Allow Evil? is a well-rounded book, approaching the problem of evil from every angle possible. Clay thoroughly responds to a multitude of questions and objections, both popular and scholarly, some that you may have already pondered and others you have not. He cites leading philosophers and theologians, atheists and Christians. Clay references history as well as pop culture. He quotes Richard Dawkins and he quotes Lady Gaga. Jones leaves no stone unturned to show us the depravity of man as well as the goodness of God.
However, this book is not merely an exploration of the moral argument for God’s existence. In fact, Clay does not seek to prove God’s existence at all. As I mentioned earlier, this book is a theodicy, a defense of God’s goodness in light of evil and suffering. If you seek the standard response to the problem of evil (how objective evil is actually evidence for God’s existence), it’s best to look elsewhere. But in terms of its goal, offering a coherent and satisfying theodicy, this book is as good as it gets.
So does Clay adequately answer the question posed in his book’s title, Why Does God Allow Evil? It depends who you are. For the hardened skeptic, nothing will convince him that the great pain and suffering in this life is somehow justified. (However, some of the information contained within the book can definitely help answer some objections that skeptics raise.) Plus, this is thoroughly a Christian book, examining evil from a Christian perspective and leaning heavily on Scripture. So if a skeptic already rejects Christianity and dismisses the Bible as a book of fairy tales, this book will hardly convince him otherwise. But for the Christian, this book is indispensable. Suffering is a part of this life, and you or a loved one will come face to face with it someday. This book will definitely prepare you for it and help you to keep eternity foremost in mind.
Why Does God Allow Evil? is a thorough examination of a difficult topic, but the lessons to be learned from it are simple: Sin is stupid! Hate sin! This book will cause you to think more deeply about the goodness of God, as well as the depravity of man. Reading Why Does God Allow Evil? is second only to taking Clay’s class of the same name and I’m so glad that I now have Clay’s fantastic course in book form to reference for years to come.