Is God to Blame? This is often the question that comes to mind when you confront real suffering in your life or in the lives of those you love. Pastor Boyd deals with this question honestly and biblically while avoiding glib answers. Writing for ordinary Christians, Boyd wrestles with a variety of answers that have been offered by theologians and pastors in the past. He finds that a fully Christian approach must keep the person and the work of Christ at the very center of what we say about human suffering and God's place in it. Yet this is often just what is missing and what makes so much talk about the subject seem inadequate and at times misleading. What comes through is a hopeful picture of a sovereign God who is relentlessly opposed to evil, who knows your suffering, and who can be trusted to bring you through to renewed life.
Is God to blame? This is often the question that comes to mind when we confront real suffering in our own lives or in the lives of those we love. Pastor Gregory A. Boyd helps us deal with this question honestly and biblically, while avoiding glib answers. Writing for ordinary Christians, Boyd wrestles with a variety of answers that have been offered by theologians and pastors in the past. He finds that a fully Christian approach must keep the person and work of Jesus Christ at the very center of what we say about human suffering and God's place in it. Yet this is often just what is missing and what makes so much talk about the subject seem inadequate and at times even misleading. What comes through in Is God to Blame? is a hopeful picture of a sovereign God who is relentlessly opposed to evil, who knows our sufferings and who can be trusted to bring us through them to renewed life.
Gregory A. Boyd (Ph.D., Princeton Theological Seminary) is a pastor at Woodland Hills Church in St. Paul, Minnesota. Previously, he was a professor of theology at Bethel University, also in St. Paul. His books include and .
These books provide two different perspectives on God's part in the "problem
of suffering," both with the aim of helping Christians deepen their faith. A
pastor in St. Paul, Boyd (Satan and the Problem of Evil, etc.) rejects the
statement that God brings suffering upon a person to test or teach. Since
Christ, the perfect image of God, always relieves suffering and never causes
it, the same must be true of God. Therefore, bad things happen owing to Satan,
not God. This life is not lived according to God's blueprint, in which every
good and evil thing that happens has a divine purpose. According to Boyd, we
must instead have a "warfare worldview," in which we see God at war against
the spiritual forces that oppose his will. Like Job, we must realize that the
very complexity of this cosmic struggle means that we will not always
understand why things happen as they do. But we can be assured in the midst of
our suffering that "God is against, not behind, all the evil in the world."
On the other hand, Tabb, a pastor at First Baptist Church in Knightstown, IN,
argues that accepting bad things from the hand of God is the way really to
learn about God's grace as a source of strength in the midst of our woes and
the only road to spiritual transformation. He also uses the book of Job to
make his case. Like Job, we can choose to trust God or reject him. We must
decide whether we will go through our suffering with him or by ourselves, but
God's purpose is clear: "he weans us from the world in order that he might
give us the gift of himself." The two authors are saying similar things in
different ways, using the book of Job to demonstrate them. They would agree
that God's ultimate purpose is to do us good and that suffering should turn
us toward God, not away from him. Boyd's more pastoral and comforting approach
would be more effective in strengthening the faith of the grief-stricken or
frightened soul. Tabb's deeper and more theological explanation would provide
a meaningful answer to the more mature, intellectual believer wrestling with
the terribly difficult questions and doubts caused by suffering. Both shed
light on the issue, especially when read together. Recommended for public and
academic libraries.-C. Robert Nixon, M.L.S., Lafayette, IN Copyright 2003
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Beginning with the story of Melanie, overwhelmed by the struggle to accept her
baby's death as part of God's perfect plan, Boyd challenges Christians to
rethink their assumptions about God and suffering, guided by the principle
that "amidst the vast sea of things we cannot know, we can know that God
looks like Jesus Christ." Boyd, pastoral theologian and author of Letters from
a Skeptic and God at War, has attracted controversy in evangelical circles by
questioning traditional doctrines of divine sovereignty-the idea that God is
in total control of what happens in the universe, assigning good and bad
events to human lives in accordance with a wise, if inscrutable, plan. Boyd
argues forcefully that, for Christians, the deepest revelation of God's
character has to be the cross of Christ, where God's glory is revealed not as
compelling power but as sacrificial love. The book draws on a wide range of
biblical material, including the Book of Job, accounts of answered prayer and
Jesus' response to human suffering. All of these passages show God contending
with a semi-independent creation that often resists the divine will. Thus the
mystery of suffering resides not in God's inscrutable will or a possible "dark
streak" in God's character, but in the complexity of a universe where freedom
and risk are realities that even God must experience. Always compassionate,
sometimes cantankerous and capturing biblical concepts with memorable clarity,
this challenging book should be a valued resource for pastors, counselors,
support groups and individual study. (Oct.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business
"Boyd argues forcefully that, for Christians, the deepest revelation of God's character has to be the cross of Christ, where God's glory is revealed not as compelling power but as sacrificial love. . . . For Boyd, the mystery of suffering resides not in God's inscrutable will or a possible 'dark streak' in God's character, but in the complexity of a universe where freedom and risk are realities that even God must experience. Always compassionate, sometimes cantankerous, and capturing biblical concepts with memorable clarity, this challenging book should be a valued resource for pastors, counselors, support groups, and individual study."
"Greg Boyd addresses what may be the single most asked question among skeptics and seekers. Many without Christ are still waiting for us to respond with an intelligent answer. Greg provides an apologetic that actually makes sense about an issue that really matters!"
"In this new book from the pen of pastor-theologian Greg Boyd, we discover an answer to one of life's most difficult questions: If God is good, why do bad things happen? Boyd advances a radical notion: human history is a battle between God and Satan. We are part of this struggle, and what the future holds is (in part) up to us. Things are not all fixed from eternity. Agree or disagree, Boyd makes Christian faith exciting. I recommend this book to thoughtful Christians everywhere."
"In this stimulating work, Gregory Boyd shows how an incarnational theology focuses on God's action in Jesus Christ as the source for our knowledge of God. In Jesus we see what God does for us, how God loves us, how God feels for us and how God rescues creatures and creation. This work restores an ancient view of Christianity that emphasizes the freedom we have to enter into a joyous relationship with God--a worldview of hope for all of humanity."
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