On the second-to-last page, he states: "We are not told--or not in any way that satisfies our puzzled questioning--how and why there is radical evil within God's wonderful, beautiful, and essentially good creation. Unless we're believing that time isn't real and in God's reality everything is happening all at once so that in the big picture, good is actually being forwarded. Is God, like, super emo and masochistic?
Looking at the problem of evil, from a Christian perspective, there seem to be two main questions: first, the one addressed by theodicy the question of why a loving God would have created a world containing evil, and, second, why, despite Jesus's defeat of evil and death, seen in the crucifixtion and resurrection, do we continue to see evil, suffering, and death in the world? Wright does not even try to answer the first question he says something to the effect (I couldn't find the passage again) that that is a philosophical question which is likely to serve only as a distraction from the more important issue of what we are supposed to Do about evil. 45) In the Conclusion he says We are not told or not in any way that satisfies our puzzled questioning-- how and why there is radical evil within God's wonderful, beautiful, and essentially good creation. Wright points out that history disproves the idea of human improvement, but at the same time he argues (and, again, I don't disagree) that God is working to restore justice to the world through humankind, specifically through the family of Abraham. If you want to understand God's justice in an unjust world, says the prophet (Isaiah), this is where you must look. Evil is the force of anti-creation, anti-life, the force which opposes and seeks to deface and destroy God's good world of space, time, and matter, and above all God's image-bearing human creatures. Jesus's followers, living in a world where God's new creation has been inaugurated through the Resurrection and death has been defeated on one level, but where, on a rather more obvious level, evil still appears to be quite vigorous, have the task of sharing the love and forgiveness they have received with the rest of the world.
Short review: Wright's response to the problem of evil feels a bit like a summary of his other books with an excellent chapter on forgiveness.
As he examined the issue within Christian theology, he found that every theory of atonement was trying to explain the problem of evil. This book could have, at its best, functioned as a primer on the problem of evil as the issue stands for the Christian church in light of the biblical witness.
His answer is "the cross" is what God has done about evil. Instead of viewing the cross through the narrow lens of personal forgiveness, we should view it in the bigger picture as the ultimate answer to evil.
It may not be possible to be satisfied on this topic.
After NT Wright completed his seminal work on the resurrection of Jesus: The Resurrection of the Son of God he planned on writing a follow-up on the crucifixion of Christ (what would eventually be The Day the Revolution Began). Wright realized he needed to write a book on the problem of evil before he dealt with the cross. This thin (less than 170 page) volume is Wrights contribution on the subject of evil and God. Wrights book is neither primarily a pastoral nor a philosophical reflection on the problem of evil. It deals with the problem primarily from a cultural and biblical perspective. But the biblical answer doesnt end by merely pointing us to Gods sovereignty. In short, the Old Testament tells us first that the problem of evil begins in our hearts, second that God is sovereign and there is no tidy philosophical answer for it, and third, that God will resolve the problem of evil through his own intervention. However, in this volume, Wright affirms all three as important ways to understand Christs work on the cross. Im not quite sure why Wright allowed this non-biblical conception of forgiving oneself to needle its way into his otherwise excellent chapter. Hopefully readers will be able to re-read this call in more biblical terms: to accept the forgiveness Christ has offered us and allow that to form our identity and heart. Throughout, NT Wright reminds us that, 'the problem of evil' is not something we will 'solve' in the present world, and that our primary task is not so much to give answers to impossible philosophical questions as to bring signs of God's new world to birth on the basis of Jesus' death and in the power of his Spirit, even in the midst of 'the present evil age.'" Evil and the Justice of God is a worthy starting point for engaging the questions our culture has about evil through the lens of a biblical story of redemption.
What is most helpful about Wright's book is that he refuses to answer the question as posed, "Why does evil exist?" "Where does it come from?" Those are questions that the Bible does not answer. No, he responded, the line between good and evil is never simply between "us" and "them". (p.38) What our Western philosophical tradition inclines us to expect-and indeed ask for-is an answer to the question, What can God say about evil? The Old Testament isn't written in order to simply "tell us about God' in the abstract. It's written to tell the story of what God has done, is doing and will do about evil.
Wright tackles the age-old problem of evil (why does God allow evil to happen?), but with a little bit of a twist. Remember: the prophets repeatedly promised a coming age when the world would be rid of evil. A perfect age is coming, but we cannot embrace it until we have outgrown our bitterness over what others have done to us, conquering evil in the same manner as Jesus.