Between Pain and Grace: A Biblical Theology of Suffering - eBook
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|Format: DRM Protected ePub|
Vendor: Moody Publishers
Publication Date: 2016
Why is there suffering? When will it end? Where is God in it?
Despite how common suffering is, we still struggle to understand it, and even more to bear through it. Between Pain and Grace gets to the heart of this struggle. Its honest and detailed portrait of life challenges our assumptions about pain, emotion, and God himself.
Born from a popular college course on suffering, this book answers critical questions like:
- Is God personally involved in our pain and suffering?
- How should Christians handle emotions like grief and anger?
- What does the Bible say about issues like mental illness, sexual abuse, and family betrayal?
Striking an elegant balance between being scholarly and pastoral, Between Pain and Grace is useful in the classroom, churches, and for personal reading. The authors draw from Scripture, personal experience, and even psychological research to offer a well-rounded and trustworthy take on suffering.
Between Pain and Grace will give you confidence in Gods sovereignty, comfort in His presence, and wisdom for life this side of paradise. It will also make you more tender and better prepared to respond to the suffering of others. Read it today for a richer, more realistic relationship with God.
ANDREW SCHMUTZER (PhD, Trinity International University) is Professor of Biblical Studies at Moody Bible Institute (Chicago, Illinois). In addition to numerous articles and essays on the Old Testament, he has written the exegetical theology Be Fruitful and Multiply and two forthcoming commentaries on Ruth and Esther.
"Peterman and Schmutzers, 'Between Pain and Grace: A Biblical Theology of Suffering,' is one of the best books that I have read on the topic, in a very long time. I must admit, I was skeptical at first. I thought, 'Oh boy, a book on theodicy coming from Moody, which is probably by a bunch of conservative theologians who are going to spout off their refashioned old-timer, Calvinistic readings of scripture,' but boy was I naïve, and flat out wrong. I found Peterman and Schmutzers book fresh, inspiring, challenging, and deeply biblical. They did their homework and are very well-read on the different theological and philosophical views on the topic, and incorporate others views throughout. Obviously, questions will still remain regarding the intricate dance between God, suffering, and evil, but I firmly believe many questions will be answered with compassion and wisdom. The readers faith, in an immanent, embodied, relational, emotional, sovereign, and loving God, in the midst of pain and suffering, will no doubt be strengthened. I recommend this book to Christians and skeptics alike."
Reviewed by Mark Karris on NetGalley, Feb 28, 2016
"Between Pain and Grace: A Biblical Theology of Suffering by Gerald W. Peterman, Andrew J. Schmutzer answers questions according to the Bible and what God has to say about this subject. When I first started this book I wasn't sure I was going to like it but what an eye-opener it is!
I was very interested in reading this, as I watched my Mother who was dying with cancer, as she suffered and the pain she endured. And as for myself I have suffered many things throughout my lifetime. I am now living with chronic pain. So yes you might understand why this is a book I would be quite interested in.
The authors take us on a journey through the Bible to show us how God is in pain himself. How it must break the heart of God to see how the people he has created behave so badly toward each other and destroy the earth he made for us to enjoy. Let's not forget how Jesus suffered for ALL of us, so that we can one day make Heaven our home. Who are we to expect any less suffering or pain than our Father in Heaven and our Savior?"
Reviewed by Kimberly Scott on NetGalley, Mar 18, 2016
contemplativereflections4 Stars Out Of 5Book Review: Between Pain & GraceSeptember 15, 2016contemplativereflectionsQuality: 0Value: 0Meets Expectations: 0In "Between Pain & Grace", Gerald Peterman and Andrew Schmutzer hope to encourage readers to develop a biblical theology that informs their understanding of pain and suffering. In examining different biblical examples of suffering including Job, Joseph and Jesus, the authors make helpful observations on how pain is an unavoidable part of our lives. However, suffering does not define our lives as our identity is found in Christ, the God-man who has experienced more suffering than any human being could ever bear. Besides analyzing biblical narratives, the book also discusses several different aspects of pain and suffering that often tear apart both the individual and the immediate community including sexual abuse, family tensions, and mental illness in an honest and practical manner. In each of the chapters, the authors seek to help readers understand the complexity of pain and how it permeates both individual and community life on many different levels. Furthermore, Peterman and Schmutzer bring out the message that though the brokenness of fallen creation and humanity is immensely deep, God is the One who most intimately knows our pain in the person and work of Jesus Christ. The book offers no easy solutions but point to Jesus as the One who can sympathize with us when we feel despair and disappointment. This does not mean that we simply sit there and bemoan the hardships and calamities we experience. Rather, the authors state that Christians are to actively prevent future suffering to the best of our ability while also engaging in lament and comfort those who are presently suffering. Peterman and Schmutzer repeatedly urge readers to go beyond mere patchwork solutions but to realize that pain and suffering runs deep in the human experience and often takes a slow and gradual process of healing which is found ultimately in Christ.
One part of the book that I wrestled with is the discussion on the immutability and impassibility of God. The authors argue against the classical understanding of divine immutability and impassibility as removing all emotion from God. The authors point out several biblical passages that describe God as being angered or hurt as not merely anthropomorphisms but as actual descriptions of God's experience. On one hand, I find it helpful that the authors remind us from biblical examples that God is not uninvolved and void of emotion. However, the authors also seem to suggest that God reacts as humans do when encountering disturbing events which may imply that God changes through the interactions between Him and His creatures. I mention this not necessarily as a critique to the authors as I am a novice on the topic and assume the authors did not have the opportunity to fully explain their perspectives within the one chapter committed to the subject. I do however encourage readers to engage more deeply in understanding the subjects of divine immutability and impassibility as the implications are significant in terms of how we view God's involvement in pain and suffering.
I would recommend this book to all who hope for a biblical understanding of the complexity of pain and suffering. The book strikes a good balance between academic and leisure reading allowing a wide audience to benefit from the material presented. The authors remind us that Jesus has conquered all including pain, sin, and death. While we groan under the heavy burdens in life, we fix our eyes firmly on our risen King who will one day return and set everything right. However, this does not imply that our present sufferings are meaningless as the pain we experience causes us to grow in spiritual maturity and greater dependence on Christ. God is not distant and aloof but is intimately involved in our lives and understand pain through His Son who took on flesh and became our sympathetic High Priest. Suffering and pain will never be eradicated in this present age but as children of God we yearn and look forward to the eternal bliss in the age to come.
In compliance with Federal Trade Commission guidelines, I received a review copy from Moody Press in exchange for a book review.
Michele MorinWarren, MaineAge: 45-54Gender: female5 Stars Out Of 5Pain, Emotion, and GodSeptember 1, 2016Michele MorinWarren, MaineAge: 45-54Gender: femaleQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5Elisabeth Elliot coined the most memorable definition of human suffering that I have ever heard: Suffering is wanting what you dont have or having what you dont want. These words came to mind often as I read Between Pain and Grace, because Gerald W. Peterman and Andrew J. Schmutzer have initiated a fresh conversation which does not claim to be the last word on suffering, but is characterized by the scope, depth, and fidelity one would expect from two of Moody Bible Institutes theology professors.
My attention was arrested immediately by the authors careful distinction between pain and suffering. Consider this:
Pain primarily objective, external, and typically social or physical as opposed to personal and mental.
Suffering primarily subjective, internal, and typically mental or emotional.
This distinction is important because not all pain is received as suffering just ask an Olympic gymnast or a brand-new mum. Conversely, those with leprosy or diabetic neuropathy would welcome pain as a means to alleviate the suffering that occurs when they injure their insensitive extremities. Dr. Eric Cassell chimes in with the succinct conclusion that the only way to learn whether suffering is present is to ask the sufferer.
A biblical theology of suffering must include the truth that Scripture provides a voice for those who suffer; it acknowledges the reality of innocent suffering; and, without moralizing, it affirms the presence of God in the midst of pain. I never tire of hearing the truth that God is fluent in the language of lament. He has graciously appointed script writers in the psalms and prophets, and throughout Scripture, honest expressions of grief are portrayed as a natural exhale of worship.
Because a lively faith is open to the uncomfortable questions and painful stories of those who suffer, the church gathered must be clear in its identity as a safe place for the expression of grief and disappointment. Counselors, individuals dealing with dysfunctional families, and those who have experienced sexual abuse or who are dealing in some way with mental illness will appreciate the authors frank discussion of these topics as they relate to what the Scripture says about pain and suffering.
The term relational ecosystem runs as a theme throughout Between Pain and Grace, affirming the fact that there is no such thing as a private or contained sin. The relational ecosystem of Gods creation has been shaken to its roots by sin, and this is seen at every level:
God with mankind;
man with woman;
humanity with animals;
and humanity with the ground.
Brokenness abounds and the outcome is alienation. Anger sends out generational shock waves that are amply illustrated in Old Testament family dysfunction. Peterman and Schmutzer refer to Davids family life as a relational debris field, acknowledging that we all are part of interlocking relationships that surround us like the rings of a tree.
Our relational ecosystem, tangled as it is in personal weakness and sin (another fascinating distinction that the authors delineate), demonstrates the efficacy of the redemption that comes to us in the midst of our brokenness. Because God Himself chose a path of vulnerability for His Son, the record of Scripture is that God experiences pain and a theology of a suffering God is evident throughout the testimony of Scripture. Gods transcendence is balanced by His immanence, as evidenced in His compassionate love, His relatedness with His creation, and His willingness to risk relationally.
Looking at The Lords Prayer through the lens of pain gives it a fresh application, for in Matthew 6, Jesus provides a model for prayer in a suffering world, a challenge to transcend our worries and pain by focusing first on Gods honor, Gods good, and Gods moral requirements.
Opening ones life to spiritual leadership roles also opens the door to some unique forms of suffering rejection, hopelessness, and discontentment. We follow a Savior who entered into suffering voluntarily. Peterman and Schmutzer assert that leaders have likewise made that choice, but then offer the encouragement that tears shed are part of the leaders path to Christ-likeness.
Since suffering is unavoidable on a fallen planet, this question is also unavoidable for the thinking believer: What needs to happen in the space between pain and grace? For most people (including the Apostle Paul!), it holds a journey of acceptance, a yielding of expectations, and most important of all, a commitment to receive the gift of suffering from the hand of an all-wise and sovereign God.
This book was provided by Moody Publishers in exchange for my review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255 : Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.
JJ1 Stars Out Of 5Substandard and Pretentious.... Authors have little real pathos for sufferingJuly 12, 2016JJQuality: 4Value: 1Meets Expectations: 1I am deeply disappointed with this book. It provides a sophomoric treatment of suffering written from the perspective of someone who knows nothing of the existential pathos and tribulation that is bound up with the heart of faith. I do not recommend this book.
bookwomanjoanOak Harbor, WAAge: 55-65Gender: female4 Stars Out Of 5Good for church leaders and counselorsJune 14, 2016bookwomanjoanOak Harbor, WAAge: 55-65Gender: femaleQuality: 4Value: 4Meets Expectations: 4The authors have provided a biblical theology of suffering for pastors, ministry leaders, counselors, and others in church leadership. It is aimed at understanding our suffering based on biblical texts. It centers on what the Bible says about suffering well and helping others in their suffering.
There are some thought provoking issues in this book. The one that struck me with the most force is our lack of lament. There is no place for lament in our church services, even though a good percentage of those in the pews are suffering. The authors draw attention to our dis-ease with engaging suffering in corporate worship. Expressions of pain and suffering are not welcome in church. We wear facades instead. This section of the book made me wonder how the church can engage misery and give voice to those suffering.
Another issue is the suffering of God. The authors investigate that concept and how an understanding of the suffering of God helps those who have known pain. I found their discussion of fear was interesting too, especially whether it is always a sin. We are reminded of Jesus' experience of fear in the garden. There is also a discussion of the role of anger and how it can be redemptive. An exploration of forgiveness is included too.
An insightful topic for me was the difference between pain and suffering. Pain is external and objective. It is a thing. Suffering is internal and subjective. It is an experience. Their discussion about the relationship of suffering to desires, goals, and sin was very enlightening.
This is a good book for pastors, counselors, and others who want to help people live through suffering with grace, maturity, patience, insight, and proper action. The authors have included great chapters on the dysfunctional family, sexual abuse and mental illness. It is rather academic in style (for example, writing about the relational ecosystem in Genesis). Lay people may find it a bit too academic. There are questions included at the end of each chapter so the book could be used as a study by a church or counseling staff.
I was raised in a denomination that was rather stoic. This book really helped me understand the necessity of giving voice to suffering. Silencing the voice only intensifies the suffering. I recommend this book to leaders, hoping others will also gain a glimpse of the importance of giving voice to the suffering. It is not a book to give to those in the midst of suffering, however.
I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher for the purpose of an independent and honest review.
Debbie from ChristFocusHarrison, ARAge: 35-44Gender: female5 Stars Out Of 5Academic look at what the Bible says about pain and sufferingJune 13, 2016Debbie from ChristFocusHarrison, ARAge: 35-44Gender: femaleQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5"Between Pain and Grace" provides a Biblical view of pain and suffering. It has an academic tone and appears to be aimed mostly at Christian leaders and counselors. The authors believe that God is both all-good and all-powerful. Much of the book focused on what the Bible says about the topic (either in teachings or in historical narratives).
They started by discussing pain, suffering, and the difference between them. They explored the origins of suffering as found in Genesis and discussed the verses where either God or Jesus is described as suffering. They discussed the language of lament in the Bible and urge the modern church to use laments in their services. They looked at redemptive anger (against injustice, which leads to action to make things right) and the Lord's Prayer. They talked about the role of Christians and Christian leaders regarding suffering--especially how they act toward suffering people in their church. They devote a chapter each to fractured families, sexual abuse, and mental illness.
This is probably not a book you want to hand someone in deep emotional pain, but it is a good look at the theology of suffering and how the church as a whole can better help those who are suffering.
I received an ebook review copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.
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