About the author: Kevin Tewes is an attorney and former U.S. Army officer. After his experience in Iraq, and specifically because of his experience at a Bagdhad military hospital, he studied the works (which explain why God allows us to suffer) of previous thinkers and theologians. (paraphrased from the back cover)

I am currently writing an analysis thesis about popular and contemporary theodicies.  Which explains why I am interested in reading books that expound and try to resolve the problem of evil, pain, and suffering. I am a little disappointed, the reason why, I quote. In the preface to the book Kevin Tewes calls previous explanations for suffering, “flimsy, worn out arguments.” In the introduction he makes fantastic claims about his own argument, “in the pages that follow I present an entirely new and comprehensive solution to the most confounding enigma of the Christian faith… put simply, what follows is the definitive solution to the problem of pain and evil.” (P. 13,14) On the back cover, one can read another haughty claim, “hopelessly inadequate doctrines of the past… Tewes discovered the one remarkable objective that even an omnipotent God cannot accomplish without suffering.” (back cover)

I appreciate Kevin’s service to our country. And I can respect his experience in war and suffering; I admire him for his courage, sacrifice, and loss. I also admire his boldness and tenacity. But I think it would be wise to appreciate  previous scholarship, and disagree without insult. He made it clear that he does not care for the free-will or greater good theodicy, which is fine. However, I do believe that they contribute to the problem of evil, and I would not discount them.

The book is broken into two parts, part one, redefining an ancient problem, and part two, creation and fall. Kevin explains the omnipotence, love, wisdom, and justice of God. It was interesting, but I don’t believe that he made much contribution to the problem of evil, suffering, or pain. I struggled through the first section. One point in particular, when he defines omnipotence, he writes, “God has the power to be hateful but he chooses to act in a benevolent manner instead; God has the power to act imprudently but he always chooses to act wisely; God has the ability to be unjust but he consistently chooses not to exercise his absolute power in an unjust manner… God can voluntarily refrain from exercising his absolute power in an unloving, unjust, or unwise manner.” (p.22-23) I am not a scholar, but I would have to reject this claim. God is love, He is wise, and He is just; He cannot be otherwise.

Kevin considers love to be the most important framework for his explanation for why God allows suffering. And I do believe that God’s love plays an important role in every theodicy, but this reality is only a contribution to something much larger. Kevin’s premise, I think, “the experience of love is the central purpose of human existence.” (p. 96) He lists five prerequisites for love, I am not going to elaborate on them.

I did appreciate his proposal of creation and the fall. He made some convincing arguments about the consequence of sin. He suggested, I am going to paraphrase, it makes little difference when, or how you die, since the punishment for sin is death. (p. 73-74) He writes, “the fair and legitimate punishment for sin is the experience of of living out our lives in a fallen condition – a condition that ultimately results in death.” (p. 74) I admit that this does seem harsh, but he explains elsewhere that suffering happens when someone undermines love out of selfishness and pettiness. I believe we can see that in the deaths of innocent people. I am not in complete agreement with what he is saying, but I think it is worth pondering.

He entitled his last chapter, an imitation of Christ. I did not care for this chapter. Kevin writes, “man is responsible for for the injustice of of bringing innocent new life in to a fallen world.” (p. 89) This thought is strange, and seems irrelevant. He makes the suggestion that parents and children imitate Christ as they sacrifice for each other, as they endure the penalty of sin. And now it gets weird, Kevin writes, “even though they, like Christ, are undeserving of this penalty.” He writes, “by being born into a fallen world where each child must suffer for the sins of others, each person imitates Christ’s suffering for love.”  (p.93) I just cannot agree with this proposal. And I am surprised that he makes this suggestion one chapter away from his harsh statement about the penalty of sin. As I read through this book, I was a little confused. If you are interested in theodicy, and if you want to read this book, I would not read this book without consulting others.

Disclosure of Material: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through the book review program, which requires an honest, though not necessarily positive, review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s CFR Title 16, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”