Many friends of mine will be dismayed that I have read this book. Greg Boyd is Pastor of Woodland Hills Church. He is also known as a (moderate) Open theist. I have listened to many (not all) of his sermons and you would never really know that he was an Open theist – which is why I call him a moderate. His sermons are biblical (he is preaching through Luke’s Gospel) and inspiring. Another reason why I call him a moderate open theist is that he does believe that what God determines happens – he is not like Clark Pinnock who has rejected all notion that God can know the future. Boyd does not agree with this – but neither does he agree that EVERYTHING is determined and known by God.
I have read many of his other books – including “The Myth of A Christian nation” and “God Of The Possible”. I do not agree with him on all his theology but Greg Boyd’s theology is well thought out (even if you disagree with him) – he reads widely (no, massively!! His reading habits are incredible – 15 books a week I believe he said) and his passion is for Jesus Christ.
But even such an introduction will not pacify my friends regarding this book. Here, Boyd begins what will become a three volume series (his second volume “Satan and The Problem of Evil” has been published for sometime, his third volume has not yet been released). His thesis is clear – there is a war going on – God is at war with evil – Jesus Christ’s life, ministry, death, resurrection and ascension was foremost about overcoming evil – he dealt a death blow to satan and re-captured his rightful rule over all creation. And while the outcome of the war is settled the church has an important battle to fight -to fight the effect of evil in the world today.
Boyd’s thesis is a direct challenge to the classical-philosophical conception of God allowing or divinely ordaining a particular evil to transpire. For Boyd this is not what the biblical text supports. He says that evil is real – it is indiscriminate – it comes from Satan and evil human beings. Boyd writes:
“that God has a higher, all encompassing plan that secretly governs every event, including the evil intentions of malicious angelic and human beings, and that somehow renders all these evil wills “good” at a higher level…generates a truly hopeless position.”
For Boyd, the issue of evil starts with the correct framing of the problem. Again, he writes:
“The problem of evil in the New Testament is not the classical-philosophical theistic problem of finding a particular transcendent divine purpose behind every particular evil: Jesus and his disciples assume that there is none. The ‘buck stops’ with the evil beings, human or otherwise, who perpetrate evil. For Jesus and his disciples, the ‘problem of evil’ is simply the problem of overcoming evil by the power of God. It is the task of setting up the kingdom of the Father in a war zone where it is resisted.”
Boyd does not shy away from scripture in this volume. He is constantly doing exegesis on scripture to frame his argument. Whether you agree with his exegesis is one thing – what is impressive is that he brings the tough passages to the table and he shows how he handles them.
Boyd is never dull. And this book is an enjoyable read because of the way he has written it – even if you diametrically disagree with his thesis it is worth reading – and there is much to take away and ponder.