A comparison of Augustinian Theodicy and Irenaean Theodicy

Essay by rain0535University, Master's December 2007

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The problem of evil is a significant and enduring philosophical and theological debate. A question is often raised and discussed: if God is both all-loving and all-powerful, then how can evils-including natural evil and moral evil---exist in our world? In response to the charge that the evils of the world are incompatible with God's omnipotence and perfect goodness, the word"theodicy" is coined to deal with the problem of evil. Usually it is an attempt to show that it is possible to affirm the omnipotence of God, the love of God, and the reality of evil without contradiction. Two of the most well-known and most frequently discussed theodicies are the Augustinian theodicy and the Irenaean theodicy.

The Augustinian theodicy was constructed by Saint Augustine (345-430 AD) and is the main traditional Christian response to the problem of evil. The Augustinian Theodicy holds the view that because God is perfect, the world was created free of imperfections.

God cannot be blamed for evil and suffering since God didn't create them, on the contrary, evil comes from angels and humans who act less than perfectly and choose through free will to sin and disobey God. Natural evil is an appropriate punishment because humanity destroyed the natural order, we have all sinned so we all deserve to be punished. Quite different from the Augustinian theodicy, the Irenaean theodicy which was created by Saint Irenaeas (130-202 AD) and later developed by John Hicks and Richard Swinburne doesn't see the world as created all-good and describes an almost opposite process compared with the Augustinian theodicy. It holds that humans were initially created as immature and imperfect beings; they were created in the image of God, but not His likeness. Mankind's goal is to achieve that likeness. Such perfection and likeness of God cannot...