Thursday, November 6, 2014

Book Notes: If God is Good

by Randy Alcorn

Favorite Quotes:

“…I would rather be a leper who knows Christ than be completely whole and a stranger to His grace.”

“Post-Christian era – People suppose the Christian faith has been tried and found wanting, when in fact, to paraphrase G.K. Chesterton, they have been repeatedly told it’s wanting and therefore have never tried it.”

“I usually enjoy the research and writing I do, but at times it’s very difficult. I do it anyway because I anticipate the reward that could never come without paying the price.”

“Suffering reminds us to stop taking life for granted and to contemplate the larger picture.”

“Perhaps one day we’ll learn how many times God refused Satan’s requests to bring greater temptations and hardships upon us.”

“God knows everything, including every contingency, and he knows what is ultimately best in ways we cannot. God can see ultimate purposes and plans that we can’t. He can know it is better for someone to die now rather than later: “The righteous perish, and no one ponders it in his heart; devout men are taken away, and no one understands that the righteous are taken away to be spared from evil” (Isaiah 57:1).”

"...but howsoever Thou dealest with me, only help me to continue to be perfectly satisfied with Thy holy will.” - George Mueller

"Emmanuel Ndikumana was nineteen years old when he heard that a group of young men in Burundi had planned to murder him in two weeks. He chose to stay where he was and survived the attempted murder through God’s amazing providence. When telling his story, Emmanuel made this enlightening comment: “You Americans have a strange attitude toward death; you act as if it is the end.”"

What I Thought:

“If God is Good” reads like a comprehensive textbook on what the author calls “the theology of suffering.” In short, the author argues that any suffering that brings us to Jesus is good, in an eternal sense, because hell is real. He says, and I agree, that the modern Christian church does not teach us enough about evil and suffering, so when they come, we falter. “Losing your (false) faith may be God’s gift to you,” Alcorn suggests in Chapter 1.

Was it worth reading? Yes, but I recommend it before crisis time. I wish it had contained early on a more concise explanation of how this statement of his is true: “The Christian worldview concerning this central problem is utterly unique. When compared to other belief systems, it is singularly profound, satisfying, and comforting.“ I saw the truth right off, but with statements like, “Secondary evils point to primary evil, reminding us that humanity, guilty of sin, deserves suffering,“ it took awhile to get to the comfort part. And it is comfort in the sense of an antibiotic given by mouth to a sick child, necessary but bitter.

My favorite parts were the stories. I have seen the truth of his statement that “God often uses people in direct proportion to their suffering.” In many cases, we may never know the why, and it is only possible to have faith that, as the author says, “the future will fully vindicate God’s righteous integrity and the wisdom of his plan,” and “suffering while trusting God gives us eternal benefits that otherwise couldn’t be ours, enlarging our capacity for eternal joy.”

This book contains no watered-down Christianity, but a thought-provoking challenge to remember the urgency of the question, “Why?” and that Jesus is the answer.

I was provided with a free copy of this book by Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.

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