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Thoughts on the Christian life in a fallen world

Sunday, August 31, 2014

If God Is Good - Randy Alcorn

Faith in the midst of suffering and evil.  Suffering is, in the end, God's invitation to trust Him.  This book answers the question, How can there be an all-good and all-powerful God if evil and suffering exist?
Randy is one of my favorite non-fiction authors, and is founder and Director of Eternal Perspective Ministries.  I was glad to see him write an extensive work on this subject.
One of the chapters takes on Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens and his cohorts titled the Unbeliever's Problem of Goodness.  In which he says "People speak of gratuitous evil, but what about gratuitous good?"  How do these atheists explain the presence of good?  Where does goodness come from?  The author give the reader intelligent, well thought out answers to these questions and more.  He also references an excellent book titled Lest Innocent Blood Be Shed by Phillip Hallie, in which a French town under Nazi occupation provided Jews with food, shelter, and escape simply because it was the right thing to do.
At over 500 pages, this is a massive testimony to the author's research and knowledge of the subject.  A topical index can help find references to subject and names, and notes at the end of every chapter.  The book is divided into 11 sections with 45 chapters , most paragraphs beginning with a statement or question, and then goes on to make the systematic argument using scripture, personal insight, or quotes to reinforce the point.  Throughout this book the author states, "God is sovereign and is not the author of evil, but He is the author of a story that includes evil."  Elsewhere in the book he states," What we call the problem of evil is often the problem of our finite and and fallen understanding."  We are not going to understand why things happen , and even if we did, our limited, human minds could not handle or comprehend it.  Quotes from C S Lewis, Spurgeon, Thomas Aquinas, Victor Frankl, John Newton,  Elizabeth Elliott and others abound.
In chapter 36 titled :How the health and wealth Gospel perverts our view of evil and suffering, he takes on the prosperity Gospel with statements such as "In some cases, pleasing God results in suffering," and "Christians should expect to suffer more, not less, since they suffer under the fall, and as followers of Christ."  He states,"This is so obviously opposed to countless Biblical passages, it's difficult to imagine, apart from the deceptive powers of satan, how so many Christians could actually believe them."
There is so much material in this book that needs to be read, thought about, and then read again, it will take some time to process.  The author is extremely pro-life, having suffered law suits, arrest and job loss that he describes in this book.
In other parts of the book he tackles the inadequacy of the atheistic view by stating,"Why be angry with someone the doesn't exist?" Indeed that is true.  He also takes on "open theism" with logic and intelligence.
This is not a book to read once through and then put aside.  You can pick up from any chapter or section and find a complete and compelling argument for the existence of evil.  Much like one of his other books, Money Possessions, and Eternity,  this one reads like an encyclopedia with so many references and notes.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to know the answer to the question, If God is God, why is there evil? This book offers one of the best answers I have read.
Published by multnomah publishing, and www.waterbrookmultnomah.com.

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