For my last semester in seminary I will be working on a research project for a directed study with Dr. James Anderson, professor of philosophical theology at Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte. The summary of the project is listed below along with some initial works to be consulted.  I’ve already read Peter Inwagen’s chapter on the problem of evil in the Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Religion. In addition, I received two journal articles – one by Marilyn Adams critiquing Plantinga’s proposed ‘O Felix Culpa’ theodicy and the other by Melville Stewart displaying the fruitfullness of OFC in comparison to other theodicies.  Along with this being an intellectual pursuit, I hope this study will benefit the Christian church as it deals with both the intellectual and emotional/spiritual problem of evil.

 

For the proposed directed study, I would like to focus on an issue in philosophy
of religion/philosophical theology. More specifically, I would like to examine the
soundness of the “O Felix Culpa” theodicy as it relates to evidential forms of the
problem of evil. It seems that few, if any, Christian philosophers or theologians have
positively concluded the merits of this theodicy in resolving the evidential problem
of evil or even the problem of gratuitous evil. I want to contend that a biblical-
theological expansion of this theodicy to incorporate an understanding of the doctrines
of incarnation and atonement from a Reformed, confessional perspective may give
this theodicy the weight it needs to resolve the issue (though I don’t deny that others
have satisfactorily defended theism against evidential forms of the problem of evil). In
addition, I want to see whether demoting “O Felix Culpa” from a theodicy to a type
of defense would be better suited to the problem. Finally, I may briefly examine
whether, aside from cognitive satisfaction, an “O Felix Culpa” solution is a remedy to
the psychological or emotional element in the problem of evil. It is possible that this
theodicy (or defense) may be holistic enough to satisfy a person’s entrenched hostility to
God’s permitting the existence of horrendous or seemingly pointless evil.

Literature

A. Ed. Marilyn McCord Adams and Robert Merrihew Adams, The Problem of Evil
(Oxford University Press, 1991), 240 pp.
B. Ed. William L. Rowe, God and the Problem of Evil (Wiley-Blackwell,
2001), 309 pp.
C. Alvin Plantinga, God, Freedom, and Evil (Eerdmans, 1977), 112 pp.
D. John S. Feinberg, The Many Faces of Evil: Theological Systems and the
Problem of Evil (Crossway, 2004), 544 pp.
E. Ed. Daniel Howard-Synder, The Evidential Argument From Evil (Indiana
University Press, 1996), 384 pp.
F. Ed. Peter Van Inwagen, Christian Faith and the Problem of Evil (Eerdmans,
2004), 332 pp.
G. Marilyn McCord Adams, Horrendous Evils and the Goodness of God (Cornell
University Press, 2000), 240 pp.

*This amounts to over 2100 pages, though some chapters in these books may not be worth reading in terms of being pertinent to my research.  I’m sure I will come across various journal articles and book reviews which may aid me in interacting with more technical details on this issue.  In addition, literary works, non-scholarly Christian books (e.g. D.A. Carson’s How Long O Lord and C.S. Lewis’ The Problem of Pain), apologetics textbooks (e.g. Tim Keller’s The Reason for God), and anthologies in philosophy of religion will be consulted.
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