How do historians confront the problem of evil? Bethel University historian Chris Gehrz wonders how historians should approach the tragic events of December 14, 2012 in the Connecticut town of Newtown and the “Massacre of the Innocents” that took place in the wake of Christ’s birth.
As I do in my forthcoming Why Study History: Reflecting on the Importance of the Past (Baker Academic, Fall 2013), Gehrz draws upon Peter Hoffer’s helpful essay on the problem of evil in The Historian’s Paradox: The Study of History in Our Time. He also draws upon Tracy McKenzie’s recent presidential address at the Conference on Faith and History, particularly his suggestion that historians should be engaging in moral criticism.
I am not as optimistic as McKenzie and Gerhz when it comes to Christian historians engaging in moral judgment, but I do not think it should be removed from the historian’s toolbox. See some of my thoughts on this subject: