Belief in God in the face of suffering is one of the most intractable problems of Christian theology. Many respond to the spiritual challenge of evil by ignoring it, blaming God, or insisting on the inherent meaninglessness of life. In this book, William Greenway contends that we don't have to deny our moral selves by either ignoring evil or abandoning our moral sensibilities toward it. We can open our eyes fully to suffering and evil, and our own complicity in them. We can do so because it is only in this full acceptance of the world's guilt and our own that we make ourselves fully open to agape, to being seized by love of others and God. Inspired by the Jewish philosopher Emmanuel Levinas and the Christian novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Challenge of Evil lovingly explains how we can look squarely at the overwhelming suffering in the world and still, by grace, have faith in a good and loving God.
"For Greenway, the reality of evil poses not a logical problem to be resolved but instead a spiritual challenge to be engaged: Can we honestly and reasonably say a resounding 'yes' to life, to the existence of others and of ourselves, with eyes wide open to the enormity and scope of the evils that surround us and are at work within us, without resorting to strategies of denial or the blunting of our moral sensibilities? Greenway's affirmative response to this question draws especially on the writings of the Jewish philosopher Emmanuel Levinas and the Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky. The Challenge of Evil is both a daring and provocative 'philosophical spirituality' combating the hopelessness and nihilism that are strong temptations in a postmodern world coping with the overwhelming reality of evil in its countless forms."
—Daniel Migliore, Charles Hodge Professor Emeritus of Systematic Theology, Princeton Theological Seminary
"Greenway writes with clear and impassioned prose and offers a compelling combination of incisive argument, captivating illustrations, unflinching spiritual and emotional honesty, acute pastoral sensitivity, and inspiring tenacity about the ultimate reality to which we can be awakened, a world saturated and sustained by grace and divine love. By putting key philosophical and literary figures in dialogue with one another, Greenway provides readers with the language, logic, and spiritual confidence to resoundingly affirm life even though 'we ever will live in this vale of tears.'"
—Carol J. Cook, Harrison Ray Anderson Professor of Pastoral Theology, Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary
"Greenway has made a unique, winsome, and exceedingly instructive contribution to our understanding of the rather thorny and perplexing problem in theology of the reality of evil. Greenway begins with the fundamental orientation on which all philosophy is founded: the reality of love, even in a world of suffering. The Challenge of Evil should be required reading by students of theology and ethics, but it will also open the spiritual eyes of all who seek to affirm faith in God even as they squarely face the great terrors and pervasive suffering in the world."
—Robert K. Martin, Dean and Professor of Christian Formation, and Leadership, Wesley Theological Seminary
"Greenway asks what happens when we take the cloak off evil and face it head on. He does not promise to solve or dissolve evil nor to provide some 'almost theodicy,' rather Greenway explores the gift of affirmation as a source of resilience in the midst of a broken world. In a word, he sketches the contours and contents of a hope that neither evades the challenge of evil nor wishes it away. This is a book well worth a first, second, and even third read. Well done."
—Steven J. Kraftchick, Director of the Master of Theological Studies program and Professor in the Practice of New Testament Interpretation, Candler School of Theology, Emory University