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READ: Review, If God Is Good by Randy Alcorn

Posted by on January 5, 2011 in Christian living, evil and suffering, If God is Good, Randy Alcorn, Read | 9 comments

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 here (include an email address) and enter to win my review copy. If your browser won’t allow you to comment, email me via the “contact” link at right and I’ll include your name in the drawing.

(FTC disclaimer: I received a copy of this book free from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group in exchange for this review. I was not required to post a positive response.)


  1. I do love reading about tough topics. I especially love books which can flesh out the tough answers. Too many books start out with a strong subject and end up being flimsy, wishy-washy musings. I don’t want flan, instead I want the enchilada!

    Our library system has 5 copies. I’ve requested one and can’t wait to receive it. Might even share it with my teen. Thanks for the recommendation and review!

    I’m not posting my e-mail addy, as you know how to reach me if you need to. 😉

  2. Thanks, Jessica. I agree–and am thankful I DO know how to reach you now!

  3. I like reading, period! I’ve seen this title many times when browsing thru my CBD catalog, but have never purchased it. After a HORRENDOUS case of abuse happened in the next town, and of all of the drug murders that have happened across the border, I started “questioning” … you know, those hard questions one has of God. But then I read something that you reiterated above…God does not owe us an explanation. Having attended a “prosperity” church for many years, I sometimes still have trouble shaking off the “expectation” of only good things, and of lack of faith causing bad things, in my life. In total surrender I now realize that God is either sovereign or He’s not…accepting that fact has eased a lot of stress in my life, knowing that He’s in control! Thanks for your review, now I know I need to read this book!

  4. Sorry, Marti, I….Angie A….wrote the above comment!

  5. Angie, 1. I knew it was you and 2. You would love this book. Alcorn gives so many handles to help readers understand these tough issues. Here’s one: “We must form our perspective from God’s Word, not popular culture.”


  6. I just finished reading Spectacular Sins by John Piper and am now reading A Lifetime of Wisdom by Joni Eareckson Tada. Next in line is A Place of Healing: Wrestling with the Mysteries of Suffering, Pain, and God’s Sovereignty, also by Joni. It seems the Lord is bringing this subject of pain and suffering to the forefront the past few months. Thanks for letting me know about Randy Alcorn’s book. I think I’ll add it to my reading list.

  7. And I think you’ve given me some additions to my own reading list, Sonya. I love both those writers. And you won’t find a much more comprehensive examination of the topic than this one. Thanks!

  8. Hi Marti! I’m going to try to do this again…my first post disappeared! I have read Alcorn’s “Deadline” and was changed by the picture of hell he paints. This is a fictional story, but he makes hell very real. I find when I am praying for unsaved friends/family I recall this story and my heart aches even more for them to know the Savior.

    (love you!)

  9. I apologize for my tardiness in posting a winner! ANGIE will be receiving my review copy of Randy Alcorn’s book. Thank you all (whether you commented or not) for checking in!

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