A Biblical, pastoral response to the thorny problem of God and human suffering.
Tsunamis, earthquakes, famines, diseases, wars--these and other devastating catastrophes lead Christians to ask painful questions. Is God all-powerful? Is God good? If so, how can God allow so much human suffering?
These questions, taken together, have been called the "theodicy problem," and in this book Thomas Long explores what preachers can and should say in response. Long reviews the origins and history of the theodicy problem and engages the work of other thinkers who have posed solutions to it. Cautioning pastors not to ignore urgent theodicy-related questions arising from their parishioners, he offers biblically based approaches to preaching on theodicy, guided by Jesus' parable of the wheat and the tares and the "greatest theodicy text in Scripture"--the book of Job.
Among preachers, Tom Long is perhaps the most broadly read and deeply incisive of them all. Instinctively he knows where the action is - in the gulch between humanity's perennial questions and God's eternal revelation. In What Shall We Say? he probes the problem of evil and the possibilities of theodicy, ranging across the great company of questers from Job to St. Augustine to Bart Ehrman. Clergy and laity alike have been waiting for a substantive yet readable treatment of just these issues. Long doesn't offer easy answers, but he does open a wonderful conversation.
Duke Divinity School
Out of his extensive experience as pastor, preacher, teacher, and mature scholar, Thomas Long has written a superb book addressing the question that lies deep in the human heart: 'If God is good, why is there evil and innocent suffering in the world?' Exploring the historical responses of philosophers and theologians, Long pushes beyond the conventional notion of God's presence in the midst of suffering to a startling concept of God as warrior, going to combat with evil and suffering. This helpful book should be read by every pastor who lives daily with the mystery of theodicy - and by anyone who has ever pondered and asked 'Why?'
Fourth Presbyterian Church, Chicago
Tom Long has done it again, tackling a tough subject with wit, intelligence, and integrity. Moving beyond the ministry of presence, Long challenges clergy to stop dodging the bullet and to answer the hard questions laypeople ask. More importantly, he also gives us the tools to do it well.
First Congregational Church, Glen Ellyn, Illinois
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