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READ: Review, If God Is Good by Randy Alcorn

Let’s start the new year with a giveaway. Add a comment before midnight Eastern, 1.6.11, to win my review copy of this book! In search of a little light reading? Then stay away from this book. Like his exhaustive treatment of a timeless topic in Heaven¸ Randy Alcorn’s If God is Good: Faith in the Midst of Suffering and Evil (Multnomah Books, 2009) presents a comprehensive, thought-provoking read. Here, he addresses almost any question you can think of about this ancient argument—and many you’ve never considered.  During my seminary days, my philosophy professor (as every good philosophy professor should) addressed the topic of evil and suffering. After years of study, one word captured his best conclusion: mystery.  God doesn’t owe us an explanation for his actions. And we will never fully understand why he allows such painful additions as cancer, disabilities, and death to penetrate his creation. But my professor’s summary left me with too many questions. At times, Alcorn offers a similar element of mystery. Still, If God is Good provides numerous principles, illustrations, and (most important) biblical references that shed light on an often-dark area. Yes, the book is thick. Yes, the word count is huge. But Alcorn wastes neither paper nor the reader’s time as he presents a practical, personal, pass-on-able presentation of clear biblical truth. He both asks and answers the hard questions–of himself, of Scripture, and of those who have suffered. This rubber-meets-the-road element goes a long way toward keeping the teaching from becoming either pedantic or ethereal. Years ago, I read Rabbi Harold Kushner’s popular book on this same topic (When Bad Things Happen to Good People). I still remember the disappointment I felt because, in my view, the author failed to answer his own question in a way that reflected a genuine relationship with a Creator God. I came away from If God is Good with an opposite reaction. Alcorn’s writing pushed against the edges of my faith in a way that taught me more—not only about his chosen topic, but about God himself.  Numerous personal stories, a carefully planned chapter outline, and bolded sentences that highlight each chapter’s most salient points add to this book’s appeal. Alcorn’s honest discussions of life’s deepest issues may not answer all your questions, but they will give you some points to ponder. As he says, “Suffering will come; we owe it to God, ourselves, and those around us to prepare for it.”  Come hungry, but don’t expect a snack. If God is Good goes beyond the whole enchilada. This one’s a full-blown, seven-course feast. Do you enjoy reading about tough topics? Have you read any of Alcorn’s previous books (fiction or nonfiction)? Share your response...

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