Theodicy and theology

In modern philosophy of religion one of the most important debates has been over the problem of evil, the argument that a good omnipotent God cannot co-exist with the very real evil that exists in the world. Obviously, this problem has been marshaled most directly as an atheist argument against theism.

But what is missed is that this argument appears amongst intra-Christian debate as well. Often various theological perspectives will be disputed on the basis that, if true, they would imply that in some way God was unjust. The most obvious examples that come to mind are arguments against unlimited atonement by Calvinists, against substitutionary atonement by Kantians and the New Atheists, against Calvinism by Arminians and open theists, against hell by some emergent and liberal theologians, and against original guilt by non-Augustinians. I’m sure many more could be multiplied by others.

Now, one of the most effective responses to the problem evil raised recently by theists has been a spin on what I think is the main biblical answer to the problem of evil: an appeal to mystery/authority. The contemporary variant has been called the “agnostic answer”,  “skeptical theism” or the “noseeum response” (so named after Plantinga’s illustration in defense of it).

If this response to the argument is successful (as many Christian philosophers think), all of the above examples of arguments which use variations on the problem of evil against other Christian doctrines have to be set aside as unsuccessful.

I wonder: how much of Christian polemics against other Christians uses variations on this argument? Might this response designed to answer atheists also have an ecumenical payoff?