Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Christian Nonfiction Review: If God Is Good by Randy Alcorn

I'm about half way through Randy Alcorn's Heaven book. He can take some time and thought to get through. Much like "Heaven," Alcorn's "If God Is Good" draws heavily from Scripture and lasts well over 400 pages. It's a deep read that requires the reader to make connections and figure things out on his or her own. Alcorn knows how to divide his book into easy-to-read sections, however, with bold headline sentences and chapters grouped together according to topic.

Alcorn's main premise is the basic Free Will argument (that evil exists because God wanted his creation to have free will so an honest and genuine relationship could live). God's grand scheme for our better both requires and answers the problem of evil. God remains in control, but His curse upon the land and man after the Fall continue to affect us. Still, God uses evil and suffering for good. If not for each individual circumstance, then for an overall plan that requires freedom and ends with a perfect world after God's judgment.

Throughout his book, Alcorn addresses Atheism/Non-Theists, Free Will vs. God's Sovereignty, Heaven and Hell as real places and answers to "the problem of evil and suffering," what the Bible has to say about evil and its origin, and how man can live meaningfully in light of suffering. Alcorn covers a lot, but it's worth a slow, digestive read.

I do wish Alcorn had considered more religions and systems outside of Christianity and Atheism. Plus, Alcorn's stories at the end of his book somewhat bored me (I am more interested in straight preaching and new ideas). Also, I have to wonder: If the purpose of suffering and evil is for our growth in character and preparation for Heaven, then what about those who die early or are incapable of understanding such growth? Other questions: If God's character defines good, how do we truly know that it is good? Could we have increased, multiplied, and grown in God without the Fall if we were incapable of knowing God's character (His grace is seen in forgiveness of sin) before the Fall?

It's a very difficult subject with no one single answer, although Alcorn ends his book with the proposal that one word, one name, one person answers it all: Jesus.

*I received this book in exchange for my honest review.

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