About the Author
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Three Ways to Use This Study Guide
Welcome to an exploration of the vital and universal themes that are discussed in Randy Alcorn’s book If God Is Good.
This study guide will be the most help to you if you’re going through it as part of a small group or class (see the “Group Leaders’ Guide” at the back of this book). But of course you can benefit greatly from going through it on your own as well.
This is a thorough guide to a fairly large book, but the structure is simple. This guide includes components and questions that link to each chapter in IGIG. You’ll see four elements here for each IGIG chapter, marked by these four headings:
• Focus In
•• Explore Further
••• Investigate Deeper
• Focus In—This component briefly highlights a few of the most important points made in the IGIG chapter. Reading this will get you “warmed up” to the topic.
• Interact—Here you’ll find a few brief excerpts reprinted from the IGIG chapter, and each excerpt is followed by a question to help you interact with it.
•• Explore Further —These questions help you reflect further on the chapter’s topic, and they often direct you back into the pages of IGIG to scan the chapter and look for certain things.
••• Investigate Deeper —These are the most comprehensive questions; they assume you are fully acquainted with the IGIG chapter’s content.
You’ll see subheadings throughout this study guide that tell you which chapter in IGIG these elements correspond to so you may easily go back and forth from the book to the study guide.
The Pace and Approach
This companion guide to IGIG is designed for use in a variety of ways. Choose which best suits your schedule.
We suggest you follow one of three approaches:
• Overview —This is designed as a four-week course. You’ll notice from the contents page that this guide is divided into four parts; in this overview approach, you study one part each week. (As you do, complete everything under the “• Focus In” and “• Interact” headings, but skip all the rest.)
•• Exploratory—Here we suggest an eight-week course. With this simple structure, each of the four main parts is split in two—with an “A” unit and a “B” unit. So alternate each week between units A and B until all four parts are completed. (You’ll complete “• Focus In” and “• Interact” and also the questions under the “•• Explore Further” heading.)
••• Intensive—This is a suggested thirteen-week course linked closely to the structure of IGIG, which includes an introduction, eleven sections, and a conclusion (1 + 11 + 1 = 13). You’ll see headings here in the study guide text that exactly match those section headings in IGIG. (In this intensive approach, you’ll complete everything in this study guide—not only the elements mentioned above, but also everything under the “••• Investigate Deeper” heading for each chapter.)
You’ll notice that the number of “bullets” you see helps you remember which elements in the study guide go with which approach:
• Overview (four weeks): Do everything under any heading that has a single bullet (•), and skip the rest.
•• Exploratory (eight weeks): Complete both the single-bullet and the double-bullet (••) sections, and skip the rest.
••• Intensive (thirteen weeks): Complete everything— including the triple-bullet (•••) sections.
Summary: The Three Approaches
To summarize, here are the three approaches we suggest:
Each week you’ll do one of the four main parts in this study guide:
Week One—Part 1: The Burning Question
Week Two—Part 2: Our Search for Solutions
Week Three—Part 3: God at Work
Week Four—Part 4: Our Best Response
Within each of these parts, you’ll do everything under any heading that has a single-bullet (•) and skip the rest.
Each week you’ll do half of each main part in this study guide:
Week One—1-A: Something’s Wrong
Week Two—1-B: Tragic Choices
Week Three—2-A: Alternative Answers
Week Four—2-B: The Great Drama
Week Five—3-A: Who’s in Control?
Week Six—3-B: Eternal Perspectives
Week Seven—4-A: Accepting God’s Purposes
Week Eight—4-B: What We Can Do
Within each of these parts, you’ll complete both the single-bullet (•) and the double-bullet (••) sections and skip the rest.
Each week, you’ll complete the study guide contents that correspond to each of the numbered sections in IGIG (you’ll see the headings clearly marked within the study guide text):
Week One—Facing the Hurt and Confusion (corresponds to the introduction in IGIG )
Week Two—Section 1: Understanding the Problem of Evil and Suffering
Week Three—Section 2: Understanding Evil: Its Origins, Nature, and Consequences
Week Four—Section 3: Problems for Non-Theists: Moral Standards, Goodness, and Extreme Evil
Week Five—Section 4: Proposed Solutions to the Problem of Evil and Suffering: Limiting God’s Attributes
Week Six—Section 5: Evil and Suffering in the Great Drama of Christ’s Redemptive Work
Week Seven—Section 6: Divine Sovereignty and Meaningful Human Choice: Accounting for Evil and Suffering
Week Eight—Section 7: The Two Eternal Solutions to the Problem of Evil: Heaven and Hell
Week Nine—Section 8: God’s Allowance and Restraint of Evil and Suffering
Week Ten—Section 9: Evil and Suffering Used for God’s Glory
Week Eleven—Section 10: Why Does God Allow Suffering?
Week Twelve—Section 11: Living Meaningfully in Suffering
Week Thirteen—Final Thoughts About God, Goodness, Evil, and Suffering (IGIG conclusion)
Throughout these weekly assignments, you’ll complete everything—including the triple-bullet (•••) sections.