Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Arts, Nursing & Theology
Dr Ray Roennfeldt
Dr Robert McIver
Dr Wendy Jackson
ANZSRC / FoR Code
220315 Philosophy of Religion, 220401 Christian Studies (incl. Biblical Studies and Church History)
The most pressing contemporary version of the problem of evil is called the evidential problem of evil. No clear theodicy has yet emerged for the evidential problem. This study seeks to find out how a theological metanarrative of a Great Cosmic Controversy between Christ and Satan functions as a theodicy in response to the evidential problem of evil.
The first chapter develops a map of how major theodicies resolve or respond to the evidential problem. This map highlights the importance of the free will and greater good defences to theodicies. The strength of these defences, criticisms of them, and the recent quest for alternatives is analysed.
The second chapter analyses the innovative Cosmic Warfare Theodicy of Gregory Boyd. Boyd’s theodicy is studied because of its similarities to the Great Controversy metanarrative and because it interacts with the contemporary discussion. This analysis forms the basis of a comparative evaluation in the fourth chapter.
The third chapter develops an initial analytical, descriptive, and constructive outline of the Great Controversy as a theodicy. The Great Controversy is revealed to have a uniquely narrative approach to the problem of evil centred in a cosmic political and ideological controversy overs God’s love, law and government. This metanarrative approach contrasts sharply with the typical reliance on metaphysical approaches.
The fourth chapter is a comparative evaluation of both Boyd’s (chapter two) and the preliminary Great Controversy theodicy (chapter three) in light of how each resolves the evidential problem of evil and handles the major problems specific to their shared cosmic warfare framework. Special attention is paid to the coherence of free will models and ethical theory within these two theodicies. Further constructive revision and refinement of the Great Controversy Theodicy is made possible.
The fifth chapter applies the refined Great Controversy Theodicy directly to the evidential problem of evil. Two complementary modellings of the Great Controversy are offered to demonstrate how it functions as a theodicy. Use is made of the Doctrine of Double Effect and a modified form of virtue libertarianism to resolve ethical and free will problems that warfare theodicies face when dealing with the evidential evil.
The sixth chapter concludes by finding that the Great Controversy Theodicy builds on the free will defence, and cosmic warfare theodicies like Boyd’s, but goes beyond both of them with its unique narrative approach. This narrative approach offers unexamined and new ways to respond to the difficulties the evidential problem of evil places on traditional theodicies. The new responses of the Redeemed Good Defence based in a Felix Soter theodicy stand in direct contrast to traditional greater good defences and represent a genuinely new alternative approach to theodicy.
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MacPherson, A. J. (2018). The great controversy as a theodicy response to the evidential problem of evil (Doctoral thesis, Avondale College of Higher Education, Cooranbong, Australia). Retrieved from https://research.avondale.edu.au/theses_phd/14/