Book: Evil and the Problem of Jesus, by Gary Commins

Posted Jul 19, 2023

Retired Episcopal priest Gary Commins has released a new book, Evil and the Problem of Jesus, that approaches God’s relationship with evil through Jesus’ interactions with evil. Doing so provides original insights into divine power, presence, and love that help us reengage the God Jesus reveals and the evil Jesus challenges.

The book includes pastoral experiences of tragedy, suffering, and evil, multifaith and biblical insights, and the ways the Gospels describe Jesus’ complex understanding of evil. Unlike more abstract books, its goal is to help people live more faithfully, compassionately, wisely, and justly in response to the evils around us, among us, and within us.

“With incisive research and penetrating insights, Commins exposes a Christian theological and philosophical tradition that has ignored Jesus when addressing the perplexing problem of evil. By taking seriously the ways in which Jesus navigated and responded to evil in his own day, Commins offers a thoughtful, faithful, and just pathway for responding to the complex ways in which evil impacts everyday lives, from the systemic to the personal.” Kelly Brown Douglas, Dean, Episcopal Divinity School; author Resurrection Hope: A Future Where Black Lives Matter.

“In this time of mass shootings, climate catastrophe, rising authoritarianism, and racial terrorism, this book is a timely study of the overwhelming nature of the social forces that generate and perpetuate social injustice, held in tension with personal responsibility and agency critical to Christian thought. The God that emerges in these pages is a God Jews and Hindus would recognize, yet challenging for those of us who inhabit Christianity in twenty-first century America and equate God with power.” Winnie Varghese, Rector, St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Atlanta.

Evil and the Problem of Jesus asks: How can Christians live with daily mass shootings in America? How can they live with the evil within? As Commins states, ‘we forget to think as Christians. We forget to engage the mind of Christ as we respond to exploitation and injustice, misery and pain, and violence and death.’ This book, beautifully written, responds: ‘How do we justify our ways to Christ?'” Tim Vivian, author, The Sayings and Stories of the Desert Fathers and Mothers, Volume 1.

“Gary Commins has written a creative and innovative reflection on the nature of evil. Commins persuasively asserts that an appropriately Christian perspective begins with Jesus’ own engagement with evil, enlightened by the Hebrew Scriptures, Trinitarian doctrine, and insights from other religious traditions. Crafted in Commins’ unique and eminently readable style, the book offers a ‘Christodicy’ that honors Scripture and tradition but is resolutely contemporary.” John Kater, author, Ministry in the Anglican Tradition from Henry VIII to 1900.

The book is available through Wipf & Stock, Amazon, and most online outlets in hardbound, paperback, and Kindle.