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How Long, O Lord?: Reflections on Suffering and Evil Paperback – April, 1991
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Top Customer Reviews
As Carson indicates at the start of this book, the book is not an attempt to provide a full orbed theodicy that will cover all aspects of suffering or the problem of evil. This is not a book that is devoted to exploring the philosophical origins of evil and how such origins reflect on the existence or nature of God. Carson does devote about two chapters to this, but it is not the thrust of the book, as Carson properly points out at the start. This is a book written to Christians mainly as 'preventive medicine' as Carson describes it.
It appears that what Carson is trying to achieve here is to provide the reader with a rather comprehensive analysis of what Scripture says about suffering, and equally important, what Scripture does not say. I thought that a big strength of the book was Carson's insistence on not going beyond the Biblical text to find more palatable or easy answers to such vexing questions that might make people feel better, but are not especially faithful to Scripture. Carson's mission appears to be to lay out for the reader what the Bible says and acknowledging the tensions that the Bible gives us on many aspects of the issue of suffering without using these tensions as an excuse to throw up his hands and declare incoherency.Read more ›
Some readers might struggle with its depth. This book is not for the casual reader. But it will repay the serious student many times over. I highly recommend it, especially for pastors and for Christian students in philosophy.
The main focus of the book points to themes throughout scripture. The heart of the book has a chapter on each of the following topics - sin, the various kinds of suffering and evil, God's suffering people, hell and holy war, sickness and death, the final restoration we're moving toward, suffering in the book of Job, and God's own suffering. The final chapters look in depth at the mystery involved in our responsibility in a world in which God is absolutely sovereign (in which Carson defends, biblically, compatibilism about God's sovereignty and our responsibility for what we do), the comfort we can derive from God's sovereign care, and some pastoral reflections about how to live our lives in response to the biblical portrait he's examined. He concludes with a 10-page appendix on AIDS.
This is by far the most balanced book I've read on the topic. Most philosophers focus on the problem of evil in intellectual debates and end up saying little of relevance. Most non-philosophers look at how we should respond to suffering in our lives but often in terms of inner psychological matters, as if our own inner problems are the real focus.Read more ›
Carson's purpose for the book is explicitly stated from the get-go - this is a book of "preventative medicine" so Christians "will think deeply on the subject of suffering and evil." I think that this is wise counsel. We should think about suffering BEFORE it happens. Make no mistake, however, in thinking one can completely prepare for the shock of suffering. So Carson describes suffering with a frank and vivid analogy - "It is like jumping into a bitterly cold lake; you can brace yourself for the experience all day, but when you actually jump in, the shock to your system will still snatch your breath away" (pg 141). This book will not "solve" all of the dilemmas of suffering, but it does provide a Biblical framework through which to view them.
Carson organizes the book into 3 parts:
Part 1 - Thinking about Suffering and Evil
Part 2 - Parts of the Puzzle: Biblical Themes for Suffering People
Part 3 - Glimpses of the Whole Puzzle: Evil and Suffering in the World of a Good and Sovereign God
I have organized my understanding of his insights into the following broad themes: 1.) What a bad theology of suffering believes/does, 2.) What a good theology of suffering believes/does, 3.) a Biblical Analysis of Providence, 4.) the Suffering of Job, and 5.) Viewing one's Suffering in light of the Cross.
1.) A bad theology of suffering...
o Is only satisfied in one's own temporal security. "We want security; we want it desperately. But it has very little to do with the security of belonging to God...Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Excellent book to read before you experience significant suffering or at a point after you have experienced when the first raw emotions have subsided. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Sharon T. Poole
Good book; may be hard read for those who do not know the Scriptures.Published 2 months ago by Going to Carolina
Great book. Not for someone "in the valley" at the moment. This won't encourage you if you in the midst of pain. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Rev. Kevin W. Earley
This book gives a balanced perspective on suffering that would be very helpful to both lay and professional counseling.Published 7 months ago by P.Jones, Raleigh
It was hard to pursue reading it to the end. Somehow even though I think he tried to address every conceivable angle on the subject, he was not able to leave me more in awe of and... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Janet
Although I have read many books on suffering, this book gives me many new perspectives. It is biblical solid and practical. Read morePublished 10 months ago by M C
A thoroughly honest, pastoral, and biblical treatment of suffering. I read it in a class on a biblical theology of suffering, and it may have been the best part of the class. Read morePublished 13 months ago by jlpark