Why Isn't God Nice? Trusting His Awful Goodness by Kurt Bruner
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
BOOK DESCRIPTION: Long-time pastor and director of Open Doors, Kurt Bruner explores who God is, how He works in our lives, and how we can see Him at work. An Awful Goodness was written out of a desire to know God as He is rather than as we wish Him to be. Doing so requires confronting some unsettling questions like why a God of love sometimes seems so unloving. We celebrate a God who is nice: One who rescues, rewards, and redeems. But what about when He deserts, disciplines and damns? Is God schizophrenic, moving in and out of opposing personalities? One minute, gentle shepherd: the next, angry judge? How does that reconcile with the image of God popular in evangelical churches – loving, forgiving, and shepherding us? Below the surface – on the level of reality that goes deeper than sentimental feelings – we know that if God is only love, He isn’t enough. He must also be absolutely just, dreadfully mighty, and perfectly holy. He needs to reward what is right. But He also must punish what is wrong. He needs to redeem the lost. But He must also thwart the wicked. God never intended for every snapshot to be taken from His “best” side and when we worship only part of God we worship a false God. But we seem to prefer the partial phony to the awful reality. More importantly, how does a person going through hard times learn to embrace a God who can allow such difficult circumstances?
MY REVIEW: An inadequate treatment of the problem of evil. The argument is basically that God (the Christian god) is like a parent. If a parent truly loves their children, they'll often seem bad in the way they treat us - for the child's own good, of course. And God wants to bring justice to those who perpetrate evil. The logical conclusion is that, when bad things happen to Christians, it's because God is either causing them or allowing them. This explanation has never been satisfactory and this book doesn't improve the argument. Sure, the author writes well and he tells some nice stories to illustrate his point of view. But that doesn't mean the argument is any good. For anyone who appreciates the complexity of life and the incredible suffering experienced by people in the world, this explanation just doesn't cut it.
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