- Paperback: 219 pages
- Publisher: IVP Books; PRINT-ON-DEMAND edition (January 28, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0830828869
- ISBN-13: 978-0830828869
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 6 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #837,522 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Can God Be Trusted?: Faith and the Challenge of Evil Paperback – January 28, 2009
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"John Stackhouse . . . reduces the tangled issue to one fundamental question--Is God trustworthy?--and offers a careful, wise and well-argued answer." ----Philip Yancey, author of Where Is God When It Hurts?
"Read this book, first because it has been written by one of the Christian giants of recent times. Second, read it because it gives key principles on which to base our understanding of Christian mission so that we can achieve the biblical balance that we need so badly to achieve."
"John Stackhouse . . . [addresses] the problem of evil with theological sophistication, historical depth, and philosophical precision."
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1) Book deals honestly with our inability to comprehend evil and the difficulties in creating a theodicy.
2) The book is Scripture based and faith based.
3) The book is extremely well-written and comprehensive for a short work on the subject of evil.
But then there is the ONE BIG NEGATIVE: The author all but completely sidesteps animal suffering. His comments display a shocking defiance of cognitive ethology (the study of animal intelligence and consciousness).
Here I would like to quote the author:
What about other living things, the plants and animals of the earth? What about suffering, through predation and starvation and earthquake and flood? This remains an especially murky area for me, as the following nest of questions shows: how do we know if or how animals or plants suffer? Is the clubbing of seals different from the mowing of plants? What if we consider not only wolves savaging a deer, but stronger trees killing off weaker trees in competition for sunlight, soil and water? Is a human hunter who kills and eats a wild boar morally different from a farmer who kills and eats a potato? Do plants or animals have any sort of "afterlife," any "compensation" for "suffering" in this world? Do such concepts even make sense for plants or animals?
These are among the most absurd remarks I have ever read in a work on the problem of evil. I can not believe this author does not know the difference between plant and animal nor can I understand why no other reviewer has commented on this. First of all ... um uh ... animals have this thing called a brain and nervous systems. We have no reason to believe plants are conscious beings - unless of course the entire cosmos is conscious, but that is another topic. Either Stackhouse overestimates plants or underestimates animals! Really Stackhouse? You don't know the difference between a plant and a baby seal? I do hope this remark was edited for the second edition, or will be corrected later. Science has proven that animals are sentient, even lobsters have a human-like nervous system. Fish feel pain too. Moreover, we have no reason to believe that nonhuman animals are less conscious of their pain than humans are of theirs. And science is figuring out that animals have intelligence and complex emotions as well. What does Stackhouse think animal activists are complaining about??? I have suspected for a long time that theologians would be the last academicians to acknowledge what animals really are - because they are hard pressed to account for why God allows all the massive suffering of animals or why God permits us to eat meat.
But the author takes comfort in knowing that the Bible gives us permission to eat meat (p 125). He refers to and quotes C.S. Lewis throughout his book - but Lewis would have referred to him as "one of those mean theologians" who attempt to skate around animal suffering. Eventually Christian theology will have to face the animal issue; some, like Andrew Linzey, are blazing a trail in this direction. Stackhouse would do well to take Linzey's work seriously and that of other theologians who are sensitive to the plight of animals.
*The sad part is that this is otherwise an excellent book. I was prepared to give it five stars before I read the offending comment, so readers should keep that in mind.
It is lucid, accessible, eminently sensible, original, extremely skillfully reasoned and argued, and thoroughly Biblical. In short, virtually everything a Christian who wants to learn and grow in her/his faith could hope for in a theological treatise of this level of scholarship. I have read many, many theological works that were either not particularly original or insightful or helpful, and many others that were as dense and turgid and impenetrable as one might expect of a theological work by a university professor! This book is the extremely rare exception – a book full of solid theological insights that are practical and immediately applicable – all offered in a prose that is as clear and crisp and refreshing as a mountain lake!
If you are a Christian who wants to grow intellectually, and spiritually, in her/his faith, understanding much better some of the thorny but everyday questions and issues that come up in the course of trying to faithfully walk the Christian walk, and if you are in particular wrestling with the especially troubling question of incomprehensible evil in a world superintended by an all powerful, all loving God, then this is definitely a book you should do yourself the favor of reading. I learned and grew in my faith on virtually every page of this book. In fact, I immediately read it a second time, and intend down the road to read it again, so rich and so sensible and so grounded and relevant to my life this book is!
By the way, this book can also be read profitably and with enjoyment by those who are not Christian or even believers of any kind. Professor Stackhouse knows a great deal about seemingly all of the major religions in the world (and a lot of the minor ones too!) and his observations and insights are therefore observations and insights that any thoughtful person, and any person genuinely interested in understanding the world and understanding people and understanding what is most truly and most deeply important to people and to their living fulfilled lives, will find a storehouse of wisdom in this book.