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The Message of Evil and Suffering: Light into Darkness

By Peter Hicks
April 2008 | Review by Austin Trainer


Peter Hicks expounds a range of relevant biblical texts that enable readers to set the issue of evil and suffering in the context of the nature and purposes of God. They may, he says, be a mystery to us, but they are not a mystery to God. Central to his approach is the conviction that the key lies in the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the suffering and triumph of God himself.

  • Publisher: InterVarsity Press
  • ISBN: 978-1844741489
  • Pages: 272
  • Price: £11.99
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Book Review

Despite the title, this is a book first and foremost about God himself, rather than merely about evil and suffering. Hicks wants us to see God rightly – as the God who was impacted more than we ever could be by the sin of the world; as the God who is always and only good; and as the God who has given to the utmost to save sinners.

Of the six parts into which the work is divided, the first is devoted to developing a doctrine of God the Father with respect to evil and suffering, while the second similarly deals with God the Son – his coming into the world, his suffering, his victory over evil, his teaching about evil.

Secondly, this book is anchored to the Bible’s basic storyline, namely, God’s plan of salvation. Hicks’ treatment of the many relevant passages is always centred on the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus, covering the long-awaited dawn of the Kingdom of God and God’s answer to the evil and suffering in this dark world.

Discussing the ‘nature of evil’, Hicks quite deliberately uses two passages from Genesis and Revelation to frame the argument, showing what Scripture as a whole is saying.

Only in third place, after God and then his gospel, does the book consider evil and suffering, and what our proper response to these things should be. But the author’s emphasis on the sheer God-centredness of it all (rather than man-centredness) makes the book all the more profitable and challenging.

Doubtless, reading a book of this nature (which follows its theme across all Scripture rather than concentrating on a specific Bible passage) many readers will disagree with minor points of interpretation. Some will differ, for example, on points of apocalyptic interpretation, or about the age of the earth according to Scripture. But these are less important points.

Also, some may find Hicks a little heavy-going from time to time because this is a serious, thoughtful and thought-provoking work. However, this excellent book would profit anyone who truly wants to share Christ and his gospel with this hurting world of evil and suffering.

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