If God Is Good: Faith in the Midst of Suffering and Evil [NOOK Book]

Overview

Every one of us will experience suffering. Many of us are experiencing it now. As we have seen in recent years, evil is real in our world, present and close to each one of us.

In such difficult times, suffering and evil beg questions about God--Why would an all-good and all-powerful God create a world full of evil and suffering? And then, how can there be a God if suffering ...
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If God Is Good: Faith in the Midst of Suffering and Evil

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Overview

Every one of us will experience suffering. Many of us are experiencing it now. As we have seen in recent years, evil is real in our world, present and close to each one of us.

In such difficult times, suffering and evil beg questions about God--Why would an all-good and all-powerful God create a world full of evil and suffering? And then, how can there be a God if suffering and evil exist?

These are ancient questions, but also modern ones as well. Atheists such as Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and even former believers like Bart Ehrman answer the question simply: The existence of suffering and evil proves there is no God.

In this captivating new book, best-selling author Randy Alcorn challenges the logic of disbelief, and brings a fresh, realistic, and thoroughly biblical insight to the issues these important questions raise.

Alcorn offers insights from his conversations with men and women whose lives have been torn apart by suffering, and yet whose faith in God burns brighter than ever. He reveals the big picture of who God is and what God is doing in the world–now and forever. And he equips you to share your faith more clearly and genuinely in this world of pain and fear.

"As he did in his best-selling book, Heaven, Randy Alcorn delves deep into a profound subject, and through compelling stories, provocative questions and answers, and keen biblical understanding, he brings assurance and hope to all."
-Publishers Weekly
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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
With this book, Christian author and former pastor Randy Alcorn answers the assertions of atheists and former believers that claims for the existence of God are undermined by the pervasiveness of evil and suffering in the world. In If God Is Good, Alcorn draws on biblical insights to address the arguments of those who will not believe.
Publishers Weekly
The crossover fiction and nonfiction author of the half-million–selling Heaven throws down a heavy response to a spate of recent bestselling atheism books. Because the main argument of atheists against the existence of God is suffering in the world, Alcorn lays out a weighty and classically reasoned argument to the problem of suffering in this thoroughly modern book. His biggest trump card is that atheists were hardly the first to ask about suffering and evil. Ancient writers did, and “the fact that the Bible raises the problem of evil gives us full permission to do so.” Evil and suffering are addressed in tandem but approached differently. Evil comes from human rebellion or sin, and suffering is a secondary evil brought on by that primary evil. By granting free will to humanity, God allows for an eternal good that humans don't always see now but will experience in the life to come if faithful. Not academic but well-reasoned, Alcorn may not convince atheists, but apart from them readership is wide open. (Sept.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781601422545
  • Publisher: The Doubleday Religious Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 9/15/2009
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 432
  • Sales rank: 224,238
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author

Randy Alcorn is the founder and director of Eternal Perspectives Ministries and a bestselling author. His novels include Deadline, Dominion, Edge of Eternity, Lord Foulgrin’s Letters, The Ishbane Conspiracy, and the Gold Medallion winner, Safely Home. He has written eighteen nonfiction books as well, including Heaven, The Treasure Principle, The Purity Principle, and The Grace and Truth Paradox. Randy and his wife, Nanci, live in Oregon and have two married daughters and four grandsons.
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Read an Excerpt

Why Is the Problem of Evil and Suffering So Important?

The problem of evil and suffering moves from the philosophical to the personal in a moment of time.

During my research I read all sorts of books–philosophical, theological, practical, and personal. It’s one thing to talk about evil and suffering philosophically; it’s another to live with it. Philosophy professor Peter van Inwagen wrote,

Angels may weep because the world is filled with suffering. A human being weeps because his daughter, she and not another, has died of leukemia this very night, or because her village, the only world she knows, is burning and the mutilated bodies of her husband and her son lie at her feet.1

Three weeks after his thirty-three-year-old son, Christopher, died in a car crash, pastor and evangelist Greg Laurie addressed a crowd of twenty-nine thousand at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California. “I’ve talked about Heaven my whole life,” Laurie said, “and I’ve given many messages on life after death. I’ve counseled many people who have lost a loved one, and I thought I knew a little bit about it. But I have to say that when it happens to you, it’s a whole new world.” The day his son died, he told the crowd, was “the hardest day of my life.”2

When I spoke with Greg ten months later, his faith was strong, but his profound sense of loss remained. Pain is always local. It has a face and a name. And sometimes, for now, it doesn’t go away.

The American response to the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, demonstrated that large-scale evil and suffering usually remain distant from us.

In Sudan, millions, including children, have been murdered, raped, and enslaved. The 2004 Asian tsunami killed more than 280,000 people. Malaria causes more than two million fatalities annually, the majority of them African children. Around the world, some 26,500 children die every day; eighteen every minute.

The loss of American lives in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, numbered 2,973–horrible indeed, yet a small fraction of the terror and loss of life faced daily around the world. The death toll in the 1994 Rwandan genocide, for example, amounted to more than two World Trade Center disasters every day for one hundred days straight. Americans discovered in one day what much of the world already knew–violent death comes quickly, hits hard, and can be unspeakably dreadful.

If we open our eyes, we’ll see the problem of evil and suffering even when it doesn’t touch us directly.

A friend of ours spoke at a Christian gathering. On her way back to her car, someone raped her. She became pregnant and gave birth to her first child. Because racial differences would have made it clear her husband hadn’t fathered the baby, the couple placed the infant for adoption. Since then, they’ve been unable to conceive another child. Her lifelong dream of raising children remains unfulfilled.

I once had to tell a wife, son, and daughter that their husband and father had died on a hunting trip. I still remember the anguished face of the little girl, then hearing her wail, “Not Daddy, no, not Daddy!”

Years ago I had to tell my mother that her only brother had been murdered with a meat cleaver.

A Christian woman tipped over on her riding lawn mower and fell into a pond. The machine landed on top of her, pinning her to the bottom and drowning her. Such a bizarre death prompted some to ask, “Why, God?” and “Why like this?”

After his wife died, in great pain C. S. Lewis realized, “If I had really cared, as I thought I did, about the sorrows of the world, I should not have been so overwhelmed when my own sorrow came.”3

Our own suffering is often our wake-up call. But even if you aren’t now facing it, look around and you’ll see many who are.

Why Talk About the Problem?

More people point to the problem of evil and suffering as their reason for not believing in God than any other–it is not merely a problem, it is the problem.

A Barna poll asked, “If you could ask God only one question and you knew he would give you an answer, what would you ask?” The most common response was, “Why is there pain and suffering in the world?”4

John Stott says,

The fact of suffering undoubtedly constitutes the single greatest challenge to the Christian faith, and has been in every generation. Its distribution and degree appear to be entirely random and therefore unfair. Sensitive spirits ask if it can possibly be reconciled with God’s justice and love.5

Richard Swinburne, writing in the Oxford Companion to Philosophy, says the problem of evil is “the most powerful objection to traditional theism.” 6

Ronald Nash writes, “Objections to theism come and go.… But every philosopher I know believes that the most serious challenge to theism was, is, and will continue to be the problem of evil.”7

You will not get far in a conversation with someone who rejects the Christian faith before the problem of evil is raised. Pulled out like the ultimate trump card, it’s supposed to silence believers and prove that the all-good and all-powerful God of the Bible doesn’t exist.

The problem of evil is atheism’s cornerstone.
German playwright Georg Büchner (1813—37) called the problem of evil “the rock of atheism.” Atheists point to the problem of evil as proof that the God of the Bible doesn’t exist. Every day the ancient argument gets raised in college philosophy classes, coffee shops, dinner discussions, e-mail exchanges, blogs, talk shows, and best-selling books.

Atheists write page after page about evil and suffering. The problem of evil never strays far from their view; it intrudes upon chapters with vastly different subjects. It’s one of the central reasons Sam Harris writes, “Atheism is not a philosophy; it is not even a view of the world; it is simply an admission of the obvious.”
8 Harris then scolds Christians, saying about intelligent people (such as himself ), “We stand dumbstruck by you–by your denial of tangible reality, by the suffering you create in service to your religious myths, and by your attachment to an imaginary God.”9 (At least we know what he’s thinking!)

Many suppose that scientific evidence is the cornerstone of atheism. But the famous one-time champion of atheism, Britain’s Anthony Flew, renounced his atheism due to the complexity of the universe and his belief in the overwhelming evidence for intelligent design. After examining Richard Dawkins’s reasoning in The God Delusion–that the origin of life can be attributed to a “lucky chance”– Flew said, “If that’s the best argument you have, then the game is over.” However, although he abandoned his atheism, Flew did not convert to the Christian faith, but to deism. Why? Flew could not get past the problem of evil. He believes that God must have created the universe, then abandoned it.

A faith that leaves us unprepared for suffering is a false faith that deserves to be lost.

A lot of bad theology inevitably surfaces when we face suffering. John Piper writes, “Wimpy worldviews make wimpy Christians. And wimpy Christians won’t survive the days ahead.”10

Auschwitz survivor Viktor Frankl wrote, “Just as the small fire is extinguished by the storm whereas a large fire is enhanced by it, likewise a weak faith is weakened by predicaments and catastrophes whereas a strong faith is strengthened by them.”11 When people lose their faith because of suffering, it’s usually a weak or nominal faith that doesn’t account for or prepare them for evil and suffering. I believe that any faith not based on the truth needs to be lost. The sooner, the better.

Believing God exists is not the same as trusting the God who exists. A nominal Christian often discovers in suffering that his faith has been in his church, denomination, or family tradition, but not Christ. As he faces evil and suffering, he may lose his faith. But that’s actually a good thing. I have sympathy for people who lose their faith, but any faith lost in suffering wasn’t a faith worth keeping. (Genuine faith will be tested; false faith will be lost.)

If you base your faith on lack of affliction, your faith lives on the brink of extinction and will fall apart because of a frightening diagnosis or a shattering phone call. Token faith will not survive suffering, nor should it.

Suffering and evil exert a force that either pushes us away from God or pulls us toward him. I know a man who lost his faith after facing terrible evil, suffering, and injustice. My heart breaks for him, and I pray that my family and I will never suffer what he did. But if personal suffering gives sufficient evidence that God doesn’t exist, then surely I shouldn’t wait until I suffer to conclude he’s a myth. If my suffering would one day justify denying God, then I should deny him now in light of other people’s suffering.

The devastation of tragedy feels just as real for people whose faith endures suffering.But because they know that others have suffered and learned to trust God anyway, they can apply that trust to God as they face their own disasters. Because they do not place their hope for health and abundance and secure relationships in this life, but in an eternal life to come, their hope remains firm regardless of what happens.

Losing your faith may be God’s gift to you. Only when you jettison ungrounded and untrue faith can you replace it with valid faith in the true God–faith that can pass, and even find strength in, the most formidable of life’s tests.

In her moving book The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion writes about the sudden, unexpected death of her husband. As I read, my heart broke not only for what happened to her, but for the first six words of the book’s concluding sentence: “No eye is on the sparrow.”12

Didion apparently means that so far as she can tell, there is no God, or at least, no God who cares and watches over us. She’s most likely a normal hurting person who needs men and women around her who can see God in the midst of their suffering, so they might help her see him in hers.

Suffering will come; we owe it to God, ourselves, and those around us to prepare for it.
Live long enough and you will suffer. In this life, the only way to avoid suffering is to die.

Bethany Hamilton grew up surfing on the island of Kauai, Hawaii. At age five she chose to follow Jesus. When she was thirteen, a fourteen-foot tiger shark attacked her, severing one of her arms. Bethany returned to surfing one month later. A year later, despite her disability, she won her first national title.

Bethany says, “It was Jesus Christ who gave me peace when I got attacked by the shark.… And it was what God had taught me growing up that helped me overcome my fears…to get back into the water to keep surfing.”

She continues, “My mom and I were praying before the shark attack that God would use me. Well, to me, 1 Timothy 1:12 kind of tells me that God considered me faithful enough to appoint me to his service. I just want to say that no matter who you are, God can use you even if you think you’re not the kind of person that can be used. You might think: why would God use me? That’s what I thought.… I was like thirteen and there God goes using me!”13

Bethany and her parents had given careful thought to the God they served and his sovereign purposes. Obviously not every tragedy leads to winning a national title, but Bethany began where all of us can, by trusting God; in her case, with a support system of people having an eternal perspective. Hence, she was prepared to face suffering when it came, and to emerge stronger.

Unfortunately, most evangelical churches–whether traditional, liturgical, or emergent–have failed to teach people to think biblically about the realities of evil and suffering. A pastor’s daughter told me, “I was never taught the Christian life was going to be difficult. I’ve discovered it is, and I wasn’t ready.”

A young woman battling cancer wrote me, “I was surprised that when it happened, it was hard and it hurt and I was sad and I couldn’t find anything good or redeeming about my losses. I never expected that a Christian who had access to God could feel so empty and alone.”

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?

Most of us don’t give focused thought to evil and suffering until we experience them. This forces us to formulate perspective on the fly, at a time when our thinking is muddled and we’re exhausted and consumed by pressing issues. Readers who have “been there” will attest that it’s far better to think through suffering in advance.

Sometimes sufferers reach out for answers to those woefully unprepared. A physician’s assistant friend of ours wrote,

When I was admitted to the hospital in sepsis with a 50/50 chance of survival, I asked the chaplain how we could believe that God is love, when this felt like the antithesis of love. I said I wouldn’t inflict this much suffering on someone I hated, let alone someone I loved. She told me she would “look it up,” then left my room and never came back. I posed the same question to the social worker who came to visit me a few days later. She told me that God’s like a giant and we’re like little ants, and sometimes He accidentally steps on our ant hills and some of us get hurt. She said our suffering is random and God’s probably not even aware of it.

Pastor James Montgomery Boice had a clearer perspective. In May 2000, he stood before his Philadelphia church and explained that he’d been diagnosed with liver cancer:

Should you pray for a miracle? Well, you’re free to do that, of course. My general impression is that the God who is able to do miracles–and He certainly can–is also able to keep you from getting the problem in the first place. So although miracles do happen, they’re rare by definition.…Above all, I would say pray for the glory of God. If you think of God glorifying Himself in history and you say, where in all of history has God most glorified Himself? He did it at the cross of Jesus Christ, and it wasn’t by delivering Jesus from the cross, though He could have.…God is in charge. When things like this come into our lives, they are not accidental. It’s not as if God somehow forgot what was going on, and something bad slipped by.… God is not only the one who is in charge; God is also good. Everything He does is good.… If God does something in your life, would you change it? If you’d change it, you’d make it worse. It wouldn’t be as good.14

Eight weeks later, having taught his people first how to live and then how to die, Pastor Boice departed this world to “be with Christ, which is better by far” (Philippians 1:23).

On the other side of death, the Bible promises that all who know him will fall into the open arms of a holy, loving, and gracious God–the greatest miracle, the answer to the problem of evil and suffering. He promises us an eternal kingdom on the New Earth, where he says of those who come to trust him in this present world of evil and suffering, “They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain” (Revelation 21:3—4).
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 42 )
Rating Distribution

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 43 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 4, 2012

    It was okay

    It is a good pointed overview of Christianitys veiw of evil in the world. I personally didnt find it useful but to someone who is unfamiliar with the subject would find it very enlightening.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 5, 2011

    One of the best books about keeping faith during life's trials

    I don¿t know how many times I have heard people say, ¿If God is so good then why does he allow suffering and pain?¿ but it is a lot. I think it is a good and valid question and is not easily answered. There are a number of books out today that deal with this question and as far as I am concerned most of them are not very good. They spend so much time making excuses for God or use philosophical analogies that don¿t necessarily pertain to the trueness of God. However, when I picked up Randy Alcorn¿s ¿If God Is Good¿¿ I found this book to be one of the best, most comprehensive and honest books on the issue of suffering and evil. Alcorn brings a fresh and biblical perspective to these issues and does so in an easy to read format that is loaded with scripture references to back up his findings. He also uses many examples of men and women throughout history whose lives have been affected greatly by pain, suffering and evil and still have a faith (although challenged at times) that remains stronger than ever.

    ¿If God Is Good¿¿ is an excellent read for anyone who is struggling with the question of why God allows suffering and pain. It is also a great companion for those in the midst of suffering and trials in their own lives presently. It¿s not a light read as it is nearly 500 pages but is worth the time investment.

    I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 12, 2012

    PLEASE READ. VERY GREAT AUTHOR, RANDY ALCORN

    dEAR READERS, TO READ CHRISTIAN BOOKS IS SOMETIOMES HAR TO DO, AND SOMETIMES WE CAN GET LOST, BUT DONT GIVE UP. KEEP ON UNTIL YOU FIND AN AUTHOR YOU CAN RELATE TO, BUT DONT GIVE UP LATER ON SOME READS, BECAUSE THE READS YOU DO, WILL MEET YOU RIGHT WHEN YOU NEED IT. THIS BOOK IS WELL WORTH YOUR TIME, AND WILL HELP YOU IN TIMES WHEN YOU NEED IT THE MOST. EVEN IF YOU DONT NEED IT THIS MOMENT, YOU MAY IN THE FUTURE, AND IT WILL LIFT YOU UP. KNOWLEDGE IS GREAT TO HAVE, AND GOD IS THE BEGINNER AND THE FINISHER!!!!

    2 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 22, 2011

    Comforting and challenging in places, but there are better books out there.

    Note: If I sound academic in this post it is because there were too many ideas floating in my head, and I chose to go with a few quick bullet-points. Suffering and evil are hard topics especially when we're in the middle of walking through real life horrors. I beg grace for the non-chalant tone of this review.

    Summary: Randy Alcorn wrote If God is Good to show that suffering and evil do not prove that God is bad. Instead, Alcorn argues that suffering and evil manifest the glory of God and the goodness of God.

    A few thoughts:

    1. I believe the book is rather long and Alcorn could have condensed the content considerably without losing much, if any, of the material arguments or encouraging anecdotes.

    2. Alcorn mixes rock solid arguments with weak arguments to (I think, in some cases) arguments built on sand. This may seem to, in places, weaken the rock solid arguments.

    3. The end of the book was the better part of the book because it was filled with encouraging anecdotes and principles with which we can battle the sense of abandonment in the midst of great loss and BIG evil. The beginning was more about theodicy (the problem of evil) and I'm just worn out by theodicy, so it was not as interesting to me. I have thought a lot about theodicy and believe and know that Jesus is the answer, the cross is the answer, so now I am at the stage where I want to have greater faith in and belief in the cross of Christ. The argument is over. Let the hope-building and strength-conditioning begin.

    4. The format of the book was somewhat confusing. And very confusing at times. The book is somewhat schizophrenic in this way: Alcorn will begin ideas, but then quickly leave off, as if he got a phone call from a more interesting person.

    5. Alcorn shares many interesting stories of believers facing great evil and suffering with faith in God's death and resurrection. However, he uses many stories that have been told and retold in the evangelical world, so for me (and for others like me) the stories were familiar and thus lacked the power they had when I first heard them. Also, these stories are anecdotes, not full-length histories, so there's a sense of, "but how did these people struggle with the suffering and evil in the actual events of the loss, of the evil?" This is a downside to telling so many anecdotes, the author cannot share as much depth of information.

    6. The judgement: In places, this book was very comforting and challenging. But I think there are better books out there.

    The purpose of the book was to show that God is good even in the midst of suffering and evil, but it cannot replace the need mourners have for genuine love from people, in Christ. Please do not give this book to friends who are in the midst of great pain. Rather give them your presence, your love, and your trust in Jesus, who was and is and will forever remain the good and holy and loving God.

    We see and judge our suffering in the light of our suffering God. The God who became a man and suffered for the evils of His own enemies so that His enemies might become His adopted children. In this is love.

    I received this book free from the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 15, 2009

    I felt compelled to write a review of my own....

    Although I have ALSO not read this book yet, I will because I read EVERYTHING
    Randy Alcorn writes... I felt compelled to respond to the review by the so called reviewer who made a glaring, presumption about the book...although he himself has admittedly not read it.
    The funniest part is, he condemned the book because he said the author made "presumptions about atheists" without having learned about them, or having "done their homework". Hmmmm nothing like
    condemning a book and an author you haven't read yourself! So, I'm reading it to spite the atheist, who obviously felt threatened by merely reading the synopsis. At least read the book before you condemn it! That goes for the Bible too.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 4, 2009

    misquoting Dawkins & Hitchens

    This book is not out yet. I have not read it, obviously. In the synopsis posted here, he(presumably the author and/or editors) glaringly misrepresent the Atheist Lobby. This is a trend I have noticed more and more amongst Christian writing, authors who have either not actually read the atheists' works (at best), or willfully mispresented them (at worst).
    Come on, christians! Do your homework.

    1 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 24, 2014

    DANGGGggGgGGGGG

    Dang 108 pages for a sample.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 13, 2013

    And as for the person who

    Wishes to keep going on about it i highly doubt that you have read every peice have you read secrets within. If not then read it youl have a better understanding of where we are coming from. By the way no one condemned the bible. Does it not say in your great book love even your enemis. Or is it keep your friends close and your enemeies closer?

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 3, 2013

    Jason and sage

    Walk in...

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 29, 2013

    Alaysha

    Walks in an sits down under a treem

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 23, 2012

    Please click here!!!!!!¿

    Is this book for 11 year olds?

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 18, 2012

    Full, direct answers

    Easy to understand. Allows you to feel Gods love in His purpose. You will come away with a different outlook on the subject. Please read!

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  • Posted May 14, 2011

    Very Thought Provoking - worth reading!

    If God Is Good is a great new book by Randy Alcorn. The book is divided into 11 sections and is a thought-provoking read. The beginning of the book focuses on evil, describing it as a "departure from goodness" and shifts to suffering. While the book is long, spanning 494 pages, it is divided into fairly short chapters that break up the dialogue about evil and suffering. Alcorn presents a great point,
    "It's easy to blame God for not doing all he can to stop evil and suffering. But consider that he has graciously allowed the world to continue while postponing final judgment. Consider that he has put us in this world with a mission that includes resisting evil and relieving suffering. Consider that he has entrusted us with vast resources to carry out that mission. We might just want to ask if we, and not God, are to blame."
    I would highly recommend this book for those who are currently in a season of suffering, who are discouraged by natural disasters, wars, and disease, but even for those who have questions about evil and suffering. Alcorn reminds his readers that God is God and we are not. He has had a plan of redemption from the beginning and while we all suffer for a short time on this earth, and in different ways, that God promises Heaven for those that are His.
    *I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.*

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  • Posted January 13, 2011

    The closest thing to an answer that I've found

    "I lost the money I had set aside for rent. He knows where it is. If he wanted to help me, He could."

    Maybe you've never lost an envelope full of cash, and maybe your most recent struggle was a much bigger deal than what I experienced the week I began reading this book, but certainly there have been times in your life when your thoughts have lead you to this uncomfortable and trailing thought:

    "He could fix this mess in an instant, but I am still in this mess..." What does that say about God?

    I implore you to find out. In the book, If God Is Good: Faith in the Midst of Suffering and Evil, by Randy Alcorn, you can learn about what it means when the scriptures declare that God is Good. You might be surprised at what you learn inside the covers of this book

    The author quotes John Piper as saying:

    "The suffering of the utterly innocent and infinitely holy Son of God in the place of the utterly undeserving sinners to bring us to everlasting joy is the greatest display of the glory of God's grace that ever was, or ever could be. Everything leading to it and everything flowing from it is explained by it, including all the suffering in the world."

    I have yet to read a more exhaustive treatment on the goodness of God and how it reconciles with his sovereignty in the midst of a world that is full of sin and evil and suffering.

    As a child, I'd ask my mom why I couldn't have my way in a situation and more than not, she'd reply, "Because I said so." I have always answered any questions I had regarding why God allows suffering in the same way: Because He said so. I've never doubted God's goodness, but I'd never thought to learn about it, either.

    I chose to read this book expecting to find a glossed over, heard-it-all-before compilation of thoughts and opinions. I expected to read it a day. Two days if I had to go grocery shopping or volunteer at the kids' school.

    A full month later, and I'm just wrapping it up. I've never come across a book that was equal parts dense and fascinating.

    This book addresses free will, the sovereignty of God, the origins of sin, heaven and hell. This book asks tough questions like:

    *If God is all-knowing, why did He create Lucifer to begin with - He had to know he would fall from grace.

    *If God is good, why does He allow all this suffering?

    *If God is sovereign, then why does he allow us to make choices that He knows will cause harm?

    He also addresses different belief systems and what they have to say about Yahweh. Then he shows you what the bible says about Yahweh.

    In addition to many stories and real-life experiences that he recounts for us - both from current events and from history past - this book is also beautifully rich in scriptural evidences to support each section.

    It is a lengthy book that most won't be able to breeze through, but aside from the scriptures themselves, I've rarely encountered a book that has so thoroughly changed my understanding of God. I no longer ask, "Why isn't God intervening?" Instead, I see each struggle as part of God's good and redemptive plan for my life.

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  • Posted December 16, 2010

    If God is Good

    This is a solid, thought-provoking, and well-written book.

    If God is Good: Faith in the Midst of Suffering and Evil deals with the prime questions people ask today:
    Why would an all-good and all-powerful God create a world full of evil and suffering? And then, how can there be a God if suffering and evil exist?

    The book is laid out well, I would suggest if you are going to take the journey through this book which will be on my top ten list, I would use it as a devotional, reading a chapter a day for each section is short enough to read in one sitting.
    Alcorn deals with this tough subject using God's Word as his textbook and real life examples of people he knows and has interviewed. He never minimizes the evil, suffering and hurt of those he uses as illustrations, but sees them as heroes of the faith who have clung to God in the midst of deepest valleys.
    Some section titles include Understanding the Problem of Evil and Suffering, The Origin of Evil..., Proposed Solutions..., Living Meaningfully in Suffering, Why Does God Allow Suffering?

    This book was provided for review by WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing

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  • Posted December 14, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    If God is Good

    The 512 page book, If God is Good by Randy Alcorn, published by Multnomah publishers, is among the most complete and exaustive Christian commentaries covering the most basic philosophical issues and questions about faith, suffering, evil and life in general. Countless numbers of people have questioned God's motives or God's goodness in the face of pain, suffereing and injustice. It is within our human natures to be appalled by the suffering prevelant in the world we live in. We can not escape pain, sickness, injustice and suffering within our own lives and the world around us- it is a fact of life. In fact, many seemingly good and otherwise reasonable people, when faced with the seemingly complex questions about the purpose and reason of suffering may often come to the conclusion that God does not exist- hence the all too common epidemic of athiesm and agnosticism. When faced with challanges and pain in life, so many people fall away or abandon their faith.

    Randy Alcorn addresses the most basic questions concerning the reasons and purpose behind pain and suffering, based on scriptural explanations. It is somewhat analagous to a defence of the bible, and it provides indepth explanation of the reasons and purpose behind pain and suffering. This book does not in any way minimise or dismiss pain and suffering, but it offers the comforting biblical explanations for its purpose. This book is way too extensive to be considered a self help book. In fact it is reminiscent of a textbook- with the extensive information provided and additional content. There are some anecdotes and real life stories of pain and suffering, which are used as examples through out the book but the author does not rely on his own personal anectdotes, which so many lukewarm writers seem to do these days just for filler purposes.

    This compendium is divided into 11 indepth sections, each of which delve progressively deeper into the issues and theology of the purpose of evil and suffering. The first section provides a good background into the philosophical issues of suffering and evil and each section which follows, progessively covers verious touchpoints building on the previous chapters. Sections are further divided into chapters, and each chapter is subdivided in easily digested passages. This book is very complete and does not leave out any details whatsoever. Not only for the inquisitive and curious skeptic, philosophy student or secular reader in general, this faith building book is sure to provide comfort for anyone going through a difficult time, or anyone who has some unanswered questions about their faith and God's purpose. Next to the bible, this book should be standard reading for anyone interested in seeking out the meaning and purpose to life. This book would be great for apologetics as well. This is not simply a casual book to be read once, but it is also a book that can be used as a reference by which to defend one's faith and belief as well. As a blogger for Water Brook Multnomah publishers I recieved this book for the purposes of writing a review.

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  • Posted December 4, 2010

    The Paradox of Christianity

    It seems a fair question, doesn't it? If God is truly good, as Christians insist, then how can there be so much suffering in the world? Since ancient times this question has led skeptics to believe that God cannot, must not, exist. Even today's so-called New Atheists show how little is really knew when they use the existence of suffering and evil as a linchpin of their arguments against God's existence. Quite simply, they say, if suffering and evil exist, then God must not. Yet though people have wrestled with this question and allowed it to drive them from the faith, many more have wrestled with it and have come to the conclusion that God does exist despite suffering. They have found that suffering is God's invitation to trust in him and to hold out hope for a better world to come.

    In the Introduction, aptly titled The Search We All Share, we read this:
    A Barna Research poll asked, "If you could ask God only one question and you knew he would give you an answer, what would you ask?" The most common response was,"Why is there pain and suffering in the world?" This isn't merely a problem, it's the problem. As for the culture at large, it appears to pose a greater difficulty now than ever.
    If God Is Good is the latest book from Randy Alcorn who is probably best-known for his last major release, Heaven, which has sold well over a half million copies in hardcover. Weighing in at 512 pages, this is a good-sized hardcover that offers a thorough examination and defense of faith in the midst of suffering and evil.

    The topic Alcorn deals with in this book is a particularly difficult one. Humility and practicality, trademarks of his ministry, are evident in the books earliest pages. "If I thought I had no helpful perspectives on the problem, it would be pointless for me to write this book. If I imagined I had all the answers neatly lined up, it would be pointless for you to read it." He seeks to get right to the bottom of the subject and, as we learn, a sound theology of suffering touches upon many different areas. I found this book to be a great resource. I really

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  • Posted November 13, 2009

    A Definitive Word on a Difficult Question

    The single most difficult question for Christians to answer is: "Why would a loving and good God allow such suffering in this world?" Many Christians feel utterly incapable of responding to anyone who poses this question. Moreover, many Christians privately have their own personal struggles over this issue. Fortunately, Randy Acorn has written, If God is Good. As a pastor, I have read many books on this critical topic; however, I have found Alcorn's work the most satisfying. Alcorn combines sound theology with relevant application. The book is filled with Scripture, interviews, illustrations, and critiques. Throughout it all, Alcorn is humble, gracious, and transparent. For the Christian who is seeking to be able to finish the statement, If God is Good. this book is a must read.

    If God is Good is also a must read for skeptics, critics, and spiritual seekers. In brief and readable chapters, Alcorn addresses every relevant objection or question dealing with human suffering. For the individual who is seeking to disprove theism, Alcorn's work must not be ignored. For the person who is genuinely searching out answers, Alcorn's book will be a welcomed oasis of truth.

    I have enjoyed soaking in If God is Good. This exceptional book has further transformed my mind and heart. While I've always shared Alcorn's confidence in theism and sovereignty, as I read his book, I felt like I was studying these concepts for the first time. I strongly recommend this book as a perfect Christmas or graduation gift. I also highly recommend this book as a resource for high school and college students and small group Bible studies. I am confident that If God is Good will be one book that you will return to again and again.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 4, 2009

    Timely Subject

    Since the release of "The Shack" and "Finding God in the Shack", there has been a renewed focus on an old problem. The problem involves the apparent existence of evil in a world created by an all-good, all-powerful, all-knowing God. There are lots of possible answers, each involving some modification of our understanding of God or of evil, and each (it must be admitted) carrying with it its own unique problems.

    I wonder how willing readers will be to accept the self-imposed limitations on God having to do with logic. Are these any consolation for those in need of consolation? Are they any explanation for the existence of evil?

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  • Posted September 25, 2009

    Alcorn answers the titular question comprehensively

    If God is Good by Randy Alcorn is a stunning must read. Recent years have seen several books attacking Christianity, and much of the arguments against the existence of God are based upon the presence of evil and suffering within the world.Alcorn spent years pulling together materials to support his thesis that of course God is good, and that He has a reason for the suffering we face. Through liberal usage of Scripture as well as commentaries by lots of theologians, he offers case after case for the goodness of God. I kept a pen and pad of paper next to me while reading this book, because there is an astonishing amount of wisdom here. For Christians struggling with this issue themselves, this offers answers. For those suffering, it offers hope, and for those who question God on this basis, it will force them to question their certainty. This is a book you truly need to read for yourself because it is certain to become a pivotal book in Christian theology.

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