What do you want readers to take away from If God Is Good?
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Unbelievers and believers have the same heart-cry in response to evil and suffering: “Something's terribly wrong.” We know we were made for something far better. But our heart-cry itself is revealing—why do we expect more or hope for more? Why are we outraged by evil and suffering when if the atheists are right it’s no more than we should expect in a world of random chance and survival of the fittest? Where do we get the standard of goodness by which we judge evil to be evil?
In If God Is Good, I appeal to unbelievers and believers alike to consider these questions: Why is there so much good in the world? Why do the great majority of suffering people want to go on living nonetheless? Is evil and suffering just bad luck, or is there a rational explanation for it? Is there a redemptive purpose for it? Can we as hurting people, and as those trying to help hurting people, find perspectives that recognize the full force of evil and suffering, yet offer hope? I suggest the answer is yes.
Being a comprehensive book, this is no short and sweet gospel presentation. But its forty-five chapters are relatively short. For the thoughtful unbeliever motivated to hear a biblically based treatment of the problem of evil, the book will serve that purpose. The gospel is woven into it. I pray and expect that some will come to a genuine faith in Christ through reading the book and the Scriptures it cites, and perhaps discussing it with a Christian friend.
The book may first serve to help readers jettison a false faith they may have. If we have a faith that isn’t grounded in reality, we must, by the empowerment of God’s Spirit, lose our false faith in order to find the true one, in Christ.
Some professing Christians will read the book who actually have faiths very similar to that which Bart Ehrman, author of God’s Problem, abandoned. They are being set up to jettison their weak faiths by college professors utilizing Ehrman’s kinds of arguments. I wrote If God Is Good in the hopes that it will serve pastors and serious lay people in assisting Christian young people in coming to terms with a biblical theology of suffering. My prayer is that they will see the spiritual power and reason of Scripture, learn sound theology, and develop a truly Christian worldview to replace their superficial one that will never survive either the arguments or the tests that await them.
Finally, I think serious and growing Christians will benefit most, because they will see a comprehensive (not exhaustive) treatment of a problem that touches nearly every area of theology and Christian living. The believer who cannot address this issue biblically and personally is ill-prepared to represent Christ to a world that so desperately needs Him. The Bible is a sustained historical drama concerning the problem of evil and suffering. Every Christian should know that, and I pray some will come to know it through this book
Note from EPM: Randy's new book If God Is Good is now available for purchase online, in local bookstores, and from the Eternal Perspective Ministries website. (Check out the If God Is Good Chapter Summaries for a preview of the book's content.)