God, Self, and Evil: A Miracle Theodicy advances from two categories of work, as indicated by the subtitle.
First, this book is a Miracle Studies book, that is, a text that unfolds teaching from A Course in Miracles. The ACIM teachings of central importance in God, Self, and Evil are: God: the nature, acts, and thoughts of God; Self: our true Self and the false self; and Evil: our experience of evil, the “unreality” of evil, and how to find help in our experience of suffering.
These discussions of Course teachings are interwoven with a lucid and logical refutation of atheists’ argument that God cannot exist because evil does exist.
Thus, the second category of work approached in God, Self, and Evil is theodicy. Theodicy is a branch of theology that ponders the problem of evil. In brief: if God is all-powerful and all-loving, then why is there evil (and suffering and sorrow)? In this book, traditional and modern answers to that question are acknowledged and found wanting. The conceptual and practical answers to the question, as found in ACIM, are explicated.
Helen Schucman, the scribe of ACIM, referred to the Course as something for the intellectuals. Following in that manner, Mr. Hellmann has provided a book that can truly be called “Course-based scholarship”.
More About Theodicy
"Theodicy" is a technical term. It comes from two Greek words: theos, meaning "God" and dike, meaning "justice." Theodicy, then, is an attempt to defend the concept of God as a perfect being, One Who is perfectly knowing, powerful, loving, and happy.
Throughout the history of human thought this has proven to be a very difficult task given that we humans, supposed creations of God, experience evil, i.e., attack, suffering, and death. Atheists have used this simple "fact" of human violence and suffering in an argument that proves there cannot be a God, or a Being that can consistently be thought of as perfect. Despite the persistent attempts of Christian philosophers to refute this argument, none has successfully achieved this goal in an intellectually satisfying manner.
GOD, SELF, AND EVIL: A Miracle Theodicy offers a radically new refutation of the argument from evil by applying many of the fundamental teachings found in the modern spiritual classic, A Course in Miracles. It offers a solution to not only the theoretical problem of evil but to the practical one as well.
| God, Self, and Evil: A Miracle Theodicy was written to help those who want to believe in an all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-loving God and at the same time feel that such faith makes sense in light of reason. For too long, reason's legitimate demand for consistency has been seen as an enemy of faith in God. This book demonstrates that reason and logic, far from being enemies to faith in an all-loving and all-powerful God, actually provide strong support of such faith. It also makes clear how one can sustain this faith even though he is well aware that nearly every human being, at one time or another, experiences sickness, pain, and suffering; lack, loss, and grief; uncertainty, loneliness, and fear of injury and death.
|What Readers Are Saying About This Book
"I think every student of the Course should read Robert's book. It not only presents the case about the problem of evil in a way that has never been done before (or even, to the best of my knowledge, been seriously attempted) but in doing so clearly and concisely explains many important points in the Course itself. I think it would be quite an 'eye-opener' for many ACIMers. I not only recommend it with confidence but would be very happy to 'talk' with anyone about Robert's book." Denis Pickwell, Brisbane, Australia
"I would like to order another copy of your book to donate to the University library. I agree 'this book may become a shining landmark in the history of theodicy' as stated on the inside jacket." Lorene Connor, Barnaby, BC, Canada
"I enjoyed your very clear and simple presentation. I enjoyed reading the book very much. This is a much-needed book in the Course Community. I intend to recommend it on our Website." Note: To see the recommendation go to the Circle of Atonement Website and read News for March 12, 2003: "BOOK RECOMMENDATION: We at the Circle believe that the scholarly study of the Course can offer great benefits to its teachers and students. So, we are very happy to recommend a recent work of Course scholarship by Robert J. Hellmann: a book entitled God, Self, and Evil: A Miracle Theodicy.... We believe that this book is an excellent contribution to Course scholarship." Robert Perry, West Sedona, AZ
"I especially noted and appreciated the fact that the passages you quote from the Course so clearly support the claims you make as you move forward in developing this radically new Theodicy." Don Southern, Virginia Beach, VA
"After reading God, Self, and Evil, I better understand what the Course itself is teaching. Many sentences in the Course were once somewhat obscure to me. After reading your book, they are now much clearer. I feel that my learning of the Course's thought system is progressing more rapidly now." Judy Craig, South Mills, NC
"I think God, Self, and Evil is quite simply one of the best books ever written on the Course. ...Reading it has deepened my own thinking about the problem of evil. I would recommend it to anyone, and have done so....The book is very clear and straightforward. You have a real knack for explaining difficult philosophical concepts in a way the ordinary reader can understand. I love the way you show the connection between theoretical and practical issues." Greg Mackie, Portland, OR
"For so long I had difficulty in reconciling the ideas that God created us perfect like Himself, and yet we asked for something. I never fully understood what we asked for, or how we could have asked for anything, given that God gave us everything in His creation of us. Your book clearly and plainly answers this question. I now feel much more confident that the Course is not inconsistent in its teachings." Patrick Brown, Elizabeth City, NC
| Robert J. Hellmann has a master's degree in philosophy from the University of Cincinnati and a master's degree in theology from Xavier University. He and his wife have been dedicated students of A Course in Miracles since 1982. Since 1991, Robert has conducted hundreds of classes and seminars intended to help fellow students in their understanding and application of the Course's teachings. He is known for the clarity with which he can express profound philosophical and theological concepts, making it easy for the ordinary reader to understand. He has one daughter and lives with his wife in Norfolk, Virginia.
PART ONE: A SOLUTION TO THE PROBLEM OF EVIL
- The Problem
- Previous Attempts to Solve the Problem
- The Miracle Solution
PART TWO: GOD AND HIS CREATION: YOUR PERFECT SELF
- God Is A Perfect Being
- God Created You Perfect
- God Knows You As Perfect
PART THREE: MISCREATION: EVIL AND THE SELF YOU MADE
- Who Is the "You" Who Suffers?
- The Origin Of the Ego, The Body, And The World
- Perfection And Seeming Lack
PART FOUR: FORGIVENESS: THE WAY TO REMEMBER GOD
- The Memory of God
- What Forgiveness Really Is
- Summary and Concluding Remarks
***** CHAPTER EXCERPTS FOLLOW THE ORDERING INFORMATION *****
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GOD, SELF, AND EVIL: A Miracle Theodicy, By Robert J. Hellmann
Published by Enlightenment Publications
ISBN: 0-9716196-0-3 Hardbound, Jacket, Smyth Sewn, 398 pages
|Chapter Excerpts from God, Self, and Evil
FROM THE INTRODUCTION
"Theodicy" is a technical term...Theodicy is normally understood as being an attempt to rationally or logically defend the concept of God as perfectly just and loving even though there is evil in the world He supposedly created. More specifically, theodicy concerns itself with refuting the argument from evil. Philosophers who lecture and write books on theodicy...are called theodicists....It could perhaps be argued that everyone is a theodicist at some level...
"I label the theodicy presented here 'Miracle Theodicy' mainly because it is based on the spiritual teachings of A Course in Miracles."
FROM CHAPTER 1: THE PROBLEM
"In order to solve the practical problem of evil, we need first to understand the Course's solution to the theoretical problem. We need to understand what I am calling 'Miracle Theodicy'...The solution to the practical problem is tied up with the solution to the theoretical one in the sense that we cannot really attain true and constant happiness unless we have some understanding of why it is really possible, in fact, inevitable. In other words, if we understand how the Course solves the logical problem of evil we may be more willing to accept and use the means it offers for solving the practical one. If we do not believe that happiness is even possible, it is unlikely we will be willing to do the practice and application that will lead to it...
"In the last part of the book (Part Four) I set forth the practical implications of this theodicy for our daily life. This is done by pointing to the one choice we must make if we would escape from all evil, and find the true peace and joy, love and happiness, we all want and seek but seem unable to find...
"The theoretical problem of evil involves a claim that there is a contradiction in believing that both 'God is real' and 'evil is real.' More specifically, there seems to be an inconsistency in claiming both there exists a God Who is perfectly knowing, powerful, and loving and that this same God allows His creations to suffer. In other words, if God created creations who suffer then God is not perfectly loving. And if we want to claim that God is perfectly loving even though He created creations who can and do suffer, then we must admit that He cannot be perfectly knowing and perfectly powerful as well...
" The argument from evil, then, runs as follows: (Premise 1) God is omniscient, omnipotent, and omnibenevolent. (Premise 2) The evil in the world is real. (Premise 3) Either, God does not know about the evil in the world, in which case God is not omniscient, or (Premise 4) God knows about it, but cannot prevent the occurrence of evil in the world, in which case God is not omnipotent, or (Premise 5) God knows about it, can prevent it, but wants there to be evil in the world, in which case God is not omnibenevolent. (Conclusion) Therefore God is either not omniscient, not omnipotent, or not omnibenevolent."
FROM CHAPTER 2: PREVIOUS ATTEMPTS TO SOLVE THE PROBLEM
"Various approaches have been used in the attempt to refute the argument from evil. Over the period of time in which I was writing this book I had many conversations with people who were gracious enough to ask me what my book was about. Whenever I briefly presented the logical problem of evil, almost invariably I received the response, 'Well, yes, but...when God created humans He gave them free will or freedom of choice. And the cause of evil in the world is our misuse of the freedom of choice that God gave us.'
"Person-Making and Process Theodicy are both products of the twentieth century. Hick and Griffin both have continued to defend the core ideas in their respective theodicies against objections that have been raised since their seminal works were first published. Naturally, there are some reconsiderations in light of criticism, but in both cases the basic teaching each relies upon to escape the conclusion of the argument from evil remains the same throughout. Hick denies the premise on omnibenevolence, and Griffin the one on omnipotence. Hick claims that Griffin's God is not 'God', a perfect being, because He is too weak to be called omnipotent. And Griffin claims that Hick's God is not 'God' because He is too cruel to be called omnibenevolent, or in Griffin's words, 'morally perfect'.
"Classical theodicists continue to deplore the weakness, helplessness, and finitude of the God conceived by process theodicists. They also feel no need to accept Griffin's hypothesis of pre-existing entities beyond God's control, for classical theodicists hold that God created the world ex-nihilo, and do not see as yet any good reason to give up this position in explaining the origin of the physical universe.
"Classical theodicists also reject the conception of God as responsible for evil as found in Person-Making Theodicy. Furthermore, classical theodicy refuses to give up the traditional ideas that God is timeless and changeless despite the logical problems this involves when it is claimed that this same God created the physical world. They are satisfied at this point to relegate the inconsistencies to the realm of 'mystery', rather than accept, as Griffin does, that change and temporality are part of God's experience."
FROM CHAPTER 3: THE MIRACLE SOLUTION
"This chapter, then, has a simple purpose: to refute the argument from evil. In the chapters which follow I will fill in the details of the new theodicy we are constructing.
"Thus the central question we want to answer in this chapter is: which premise of the argument from evil does Miracle Theodicy deny, and what is its justification for doing so?...
"We now have an answer to the question we posed above, namely, which premise does Miracle Theodicy deny in order to escape from the conclusions of the argument from evil? ...it is premise 3.
"Premise 3 implies that, if God is omniscient then He knows about the evil in the world. We deny this premise. The conclusion of the argument we just constructed states that God does not know about the evil in the world.
"Does this mean, then, that the God of A Course in Miracles is not omniscient? The Course claims it does not. According to the Course, even though God does not know about the evil in the world it is still true that God is omniscient. This, then, is our next task: to show that it makes sense to say that God is omniscient even though God does not know about the evil in the world.
"Before we begin this task it is worthwhile to point out that we are attempting to refute the argument from evil in the same manner as Person-Making and Process Theodicy attempt to refute it. We claim that our conception of a particular attribute of God, in this case 'omniscience', does not imply what the relevant premise says it implies. We are saying that our conception of God's 'omniscience' does not imply that God knows about the evil in the world; just as Person-Making Theodicy claims that its conception of God's 'omnibenevolence' does not imply that God does not want there to be evil in the world, and just as Process Theodicy claims that its conception of God's 'omnipotence' does not imply that God can create a world without any genuine evil, or that He can prevent the occurrence of evil in this world which He created, and is still 'creating'...
"In this chapter we have presented a solution to the logical problem of evil based on the teachings of A Course in Miracles... The evil we experience and perceive, then, cannot legitimately serve as proof or evidence against the existence of an all-loving and all-powerful God.
"Obvious questions, however, are raised by this solution. In this, the last section of this chapter, we will merely raise those questions. In the chapters which follow we will attempt to answer them...
"Question 1: If God created neither the body nor the physical world, what did He create?...
"Question 2: If God created neither the body nor the world, who did?...
"Question 3: Given that God Himself does not know about this world, its inhabitants, or their suffering, in what sense, then, is Divine Help available to us?"