Thursday, February 10, 2011

Book Review: If God is Good by Randy Alcorn

Every so often a book comes along that I believe will become a classic because of the infinite wisdom and value contained inside. If God is Good is such a book. Written primarily for Christians, it is a book that I think anyone may benefit from reading.

If God Is Good: Faith in the Midst of Suffering and EvilThe subtitle of this book is Faith in the Midst of Suffering and Evil. In the first chapter, Mr Alcorn states, "Our failure to teach a biblical theology of suffering leaves Christians unprepared for harsh realities. It also leaves our children vulnerable to history, philosophy, and global studies classes that raise the problems of evil and suffering while denying the Christian worldview. Since the question will be raised, shouldn't Christian parents and churches raise it first and take people to Scripture to see what God says about it?" He then proceeds in the rest of the book (a whopping 500+ pages!) to answer, biblically, many (if not all) of the questions about suffering and evil in our world. Even though its size may intimidate some readers, I feel that the time spent reading If God is Good is well worth it.

One idea that Mr. Alcorn teaches is that the Christian worldview is fundamentally different than a man-centered worldview. He explains the reason for which God created the world: "If we come to see the purpose of the universe as God's long-term glory rather than our short-term happiness, then we will undergo a critical paradigm shift in tackling the problem of evil and suffering. The world has gone terribly wrong. God is going to fix it. First, for his eternal glory. Second, for our eternal good." We must realize that all that happens in our lives are happening (ultimately) for the glory of God and for our good. And we must trust Him in that.

The author also makes it clear that "God isn't the author of evil, but he is the author of a story that includes evil. He intended from the beginning to permit evil, then to turn evil on its head, to take what evil angels and evil people intended for evil and use it for good. God intended to show his highest good."

Some readers may ask, "But wouldn't it be better if God, being good and all-powerful, miraculously intervened every time someone intended to do harm, thus doing away with evil, or, at least the consequences of evil?" Mr. Alcorn answers: "If God disarmed every shooter and prevented every drunk driver from crashing, this would not be a real world in which people make consequential choices. It would not be a world of character development and faith building. It would not be a world where families put their arms around one another to face life's difficulties. It would be a world where people went blithely along with their lives, content to do evil and put up with it, feeling no need to turn to God, no incentive to consider the gospel and prepare for eternity. In such a world, people would die without a sense of need, only to find themselves in Hell." Who are we to question God about what He is doing in this world and why? Job learned the answer to that one, didn't he?

Isaiah 55:8-9 says, "'For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,' declares the LORD. 'As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.'"

I don't know about you, but I find that extremely comforting.

I give If God is Good 5 out of 5 stars.

(I received this book from Waterbrook/Multnomah for review purposes. I received no monetary compensation for this review. All opinions expressed are completely my own.)

1 comment:

Kate {The Parchment Girl} said...

I have this one on my shelf waiting to be read (right after A PLACE OF HEALING by Joni Eareckson Tada, which I suspect will also be a keeper). I am SO looking forward to it. Your review makes me want to drop everything and begin it right now!