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Evil and the Morality of God

By Harold Schulweis

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Traditional theological strategies which seek to reconcile the existence of God and evil fail more on moral on logical grounds. Theodicies, the theological and philosophical justifications of God in the face of evil, deprecate the human moral understanding of good and evil and leave in their wake a deity devoid of those moral features commonly recognized in the Biblical and liturgical tradition of monotheism.
The author proposes a shift of focus from God as unknowable subject to the predicates ascribed to God and identified as godly. Not the attributes of divinity, but the divinity of the attributes are the proper concerns of theology.

The question asked of the reader is not whether they believe in the existence of the Noun "God," but whether they believe in the reality of the moral predicates of God. Thus, not "Do you believe that God is just, merciful and peace-making?" but "Do you believe that doing justice, practicing mercy and making peace are godly?"

Godliness is found not in the nouns but in the gerunds (e.g., loving, healing, protecting). Godliness, or Elohuth, is not lodged in a Thou or an It, but in the discoverable predicates of divinity. In Godliness, believing is behavioral, the moral attributes emulatable, and faith consequential.
Praise for Evil and the Morality of God
The monotheistic traditions have long been faced with the difficult problem of explaining the existence of evil while maintaining the goodness, omnipotence, and perfection of God. Schulweis contends that traditional answers offered by theologians and philosophers, known as theodicies, have failed in part because they invariably attempt to exonerate God and rob Him of His moral character. Schulweis' answer is to stand theology on its head, seeking divinity not in the subject of a personal God but rather in the reality of the predicates applied to Him. Aptly named predicate theology, its task is not to ask whether God is merciful, caring, or peacemaking. Rather, predicate theology asks whether doing mercy, caring, and making peace are godly, and further contends that such qualities are "themselves worthy of adoration, cultivation, and emulation." Although the description of predicate theology and its broader theological, liturgical, and communal implications really requires more than the one chapter Schulweis devotes to it, this is nevertheless a provocative and stimulating work on renewing faith today by a scholar, teacher, and spiritual leader.
~ Booklist

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