cover image IS GOD TO BLAME? Beyond Pat Answers to the Problem of Suffering

IS GOD TO BLAME? Beyond Pat Answers to the Problem of Suffering

Gregory A. Boyd, . . InterVarsity, $12 (211pp) ISBN 978-0-8308-2394-9

Beginning with the story of Melanie, overwhelmed by the struggle to accept her baby's death as part of God's perfect plan, Boyd challenges Christians to rethink their assumptions about God and suffering, guided by the principle that "amidst the vast sea of things we cannot know, we can know that God looks like Jesus Christ." Boyd, pastoral theologian and author of Letters from a Skeptic and God at War, has attracted controversy in evangelical circles by questioning traditional doctrines of divine sovereignty—the idea that God is in total control of what happens in the universe, assigning good and bad events to human lives in accordance with a wise, if inscrutable, plan. Boyd argues forcefully that, for Christians, the deepest revelation of God's character has to be the cross of Christ, where God's glory is revealed not as compelling power but as sacrificial love. The book draws on a wide range of biblical material, including the Book of Job, accounts of answered prayer and Jesus' response to human suffering. All of these passages show God contending with a semi-independent creation that often resists the divine will. Thus the mystery of suffering resides not in God's inscrutable will or a possible "dark streak" in God's character, but in the complexity of a universe where freedom and risk are realities that even God must experience. Always compassionate, sometimes cantankerous and capturing biblical concepts with memorable clarity, this challenging book should be a valued resource for pastors, counselors, support groups and individual study. (Oct.)