Eschatology and Theodicy

Michael L. Peterson

in The Oxford Handbook of Eschatology

Published in print December 2007 |
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

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Eschatology and theodicy are both intimately and importantly related. The Christian creeds conclude with the affirmation of the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come, and classical eschatology is concerned with the doctrine of “the consummation of all things.” The inveterate problem of evil identifies basic theistic commitments—about God's knowledge, power, and goodness—that must be squared with the facts of evil in any plausible vision of the eschatological future. So, theodicy is necessary to the task of eschatology. This article examines the reciprocal relationship between eschatology and theodicy by surveying the major strands of discussion of the problem of evil in contemporary philosophy. It traces how both the argument from evil and responses to it have evolved, setting the stage for why current discussions have turned to eschatological themes. It also discusses John Hick's soul-making theodicy, Richard Swinburne's theodicy of providence, Marilyn Adams's theodicy of divine goodness, open theism's theodicy of divine risk, and theodicy and Christian hope.

Keywords: John Hick; theodicy; Richard Swinburne; providence; Marilyn Adams; divine goodness; open theism; divine risk; hope

Article.  7419 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Philosophy of Religion ; Christianity

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