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If God Is Good: Faith in the Midst of Suffering and Evil Hardcover – September 15, 2009

4.6 out of 5 stars 236 customer reviews

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From Publishers Weekly

The crossover fiction and nonfiction author of the half-million–selling Heaven throws down a heavy response to a spate of recent bestselling atheism books. Because the main argument of atheists against the existence of God is suffering in the world, Alcorn lays out a weighty and classically reasoned argument to the problem of suffering in this thoroughly modern book. His biggest trump card is that atheists were hardly the first to ask about suffering and evil. Ancient writers did, and the fact that the Bible raises the problem of evil gives us full permission to do so. Evil and suffering are addressed in tandem but approached differently. Evil comes from human rebellion or sin, and suffering is a secondary evil brought on by that primary evil. By granting free will to humanity, God allows for an eternal good that humans don't always see now but will experience in the life to come if faithful. Not academic but well-reasoned, Alcorn may not convince atheists, but apart from them readership is wide open. (Sept.)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Multnomah; First Edition edition (September 15, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 160142132X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1601421326
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.8 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (236 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #297,076 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Tim Challies TOP 1000 REVIEWER on September 15, 2009
Format: Hardcover
It seems a fair question, doesn't it? If God is truly good, as Christians insist, then how can there be so much suffering in the world? Since ancient times this question has led skeptics to believe that God cannot, must not, exist. Even today's so-called New Atheists show how little is really knew when they use the existence of suffering and evil as a linchpin of their arguments against God's existence. Quite simply, they say, if suffering and evil exist, then God must not. Yet though people have wrestled with this question and allowed it to drive them from the faith, many more have wrestled with it and have come to the conclusion that God does exist despite suffering. They have found that suffering is God's invitation to trust in him and to hold out hope for a better world to come.

If God Is Good is the latest book from Randy Alcorn's who is probably best-known for his last major release, Heaven, which has sold well over a half million copies in hardcover. From my experience, Alcorn primarily writes three types of books: novels, very small books and very large books. If God Is Good, like Heaven before it, fits squarely in the final category. Weighing in at 512 pages, this is a good-sized hardcover that offers a thorough examination and defense of faith in the midst of suffering and evil.

The topic Alcorn deals with in this book is a particularly difficult one. Humility and practicality, trademarks of his ministry, are evident in the books earliest pages. "If I thought I had no helpful perspectives on the problem, it would be pointless for me to write this book. If I imagined I had all the answers neatly lined up, it would be pointless for you to read it.
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Format: Hardcover
In my ministry career there have been a handful of events that have occurred where I had to throw out completely my lesson plans for the week and deal with the fears and questions each event brought with them.

After 9/11 I can remember sitting with the teens and college students in the class room- all of us seemed shell shocked and confused. "How could this have happened?"

After Katrina ripped into New Orleans and the Gulf Coast I gathered with some students in the gym as we tried to make sense of what we were witnessing on television. "What can we do?"

After the Virginia Tech massacre I struggled to help my students process through why something so senseless could have happened. "Why?"

Asking questions about evil and suffering when world events happen is one thing. But how do you deal with pain and hurt and cancer and evil and suffering and death when they strike closer to home?

Many have wrestled with the question: "If God is good why does evil and suffering happen?" As a minister I wrestle with find a resource out there that will help me walk alongside someone as they struggle through personal pain, agony, and questions. Unfortunately, finding the right resource has been next to impossible. There are just way too many mixed messages out there.
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Format: Hardcover
"If God is Good" is an excellent God-focused, Scripture-based book. It gives a comprehensive and balanced look at what the entire Bible says about evil and suffering. If you have any question about why an all-good, all-powerful, all-knowing God allows evil and suffering, this book thoroughly answers it. Some parts got a bit heavy and a few chapters weren't as convincing as others (like chapter 20), but most of the book was excellent and very easy to understand.

The major drawback to this book is it's sheer size. Five hundred pages is daunting enough for the average reader. When I realized that the small font makes this book equal to about 850 normal pages, I began to wonder who the target audience was. Most people I know wouldn't have the time or interest in reading such a large book, no matter how good the material. This is too bad since the information is excellent.

Part of the length problem is that there was a lot of repetition. In each section, he answers the question of evil and suffering from a slightly different angle and often repeats previous material in the argument. Yet you can't skip any part without potentially skipping the bits of excellent new material woven into it.

If you get into debates about evil and suffering and need to know all of the possible questions and answers, this is an excellent book to read. If you want to understand the idea of free will better, this is an excellent resource. If you're a pastor or ministry leader, you owe it to those you lead to know the information in this book. However, if you're suffering deep sorrow, I'd highly recommend "Hearing Jesus Speak into Your Sorrow" by Nancy Guthrie. It gives many of the same points in a sympathetic, caring manner and with much fewer words.

Reviewed by Debbie from ChristFocus Book Club
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