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The Groaning Of Creation: God, Creation & the Problem of Evil

Author: Christopher Southgate
Published By: Westminster John Knox Press (London)
Pages: 196
Price: £16.99
ISBN: 978 0 664 23090 6

Reviewed by David Faulkner.

We have recently been weighed down with books to mark the bicentenary of Charles Darwin’s birth in 1809 and the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of On the Origin of Species being published. This book just beat the 2009 glut, and takes a different tack from most of the ‘Can you be a Christian and a Darwinian?’ titles. Christopher Southgate, a Research Fellow at ExeterUniversity, writes here on the perennial question of theodicy. He recognises that different Christian approaches to the question of origins lead to different answers to the question of suffering. He rejects creationism, Intelligent Design, process theology and Teilhard de Chardin, and regards evolution as thoroughly established. Indeed, he says, it had to be something like evolution for God to create a world with the characteristics we witness.

However, not only does he then set out to ask what a Christian theodicy would look like in the light of Darwin’s theory, he particularly examines with respect to non-human life, for that poses questions about suffering that are not necessarily answered by many recognised approaches. So, for example, can the theories popularised in recent decades by Moltmann that emphasise God entering into human suffering have anything to say about the suffering of other beings or not?

His response encompasses a Trinitarian view of creation and he takes a particular line on kenosis. His concluding chapters seek to explore some environmental ethics issues as a response.

You will gather that this is not a light read, but if you are able to give the time to explore it, Southgate’s modest, but deeply thought-out and passionate convictions will give you much to think about, and make you realise how deep some of the questions around creation and evolution really are.

David Faulkner

Methodist Minister, Chelmsford Circuit

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You are reading Issue 48 of Ministry Today, published in March 2010.

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