Monday, 7 December 2009

2 more book reviews & some big issues to chew on

I'm heading up a book stall at our Christmas carol service, and here are reviews of two of the books on that stall, exploring the God of Christianity, and hopefully providing answers which help people understand him and see his goodness.

What kind of God? (IVP)

Having seen Michael Ots on the front line, speaking at lunchtime talks at some of our universities, answering questions from the floor and debating with individuals afterwards, it is clear Michael is passionate at speaking to people where they are at and dealing with their questions about God. This book is based on the outcry of those he has met asking “What kind of God is it who authorises war, inspires fundamentalism in the US, punishes his own Son, represses sexuality, allows the environment to be destroyed, and condemns people to hell?”

He gives real answers to these accusations and, more than that, explains that there is a basis for saying God is good and that Jesus is 100% relevant today - in fact, that we ignore him at our peril. You don’t have to read the book in order, so if you or a friend would read even one chapter, consider picking this one up as a starting point for further discussion.

If I were God I’d end all the pain (Good Book Company)

In this book John Dickson wrestles with the question of suffering: If God is all-powerful and all-loving, why does he allow so much pain and difficulty in the world? Early on he tells us that, although the perspective of the Bible will not answer all of our questions on suffering, he thinks it is the only perspective on the world which is “not itself knocked-out by the force of this age-old question”.

Exploring the views of suffering taken by Buddhists, Muslims and then atheists, he notes their various insights and difficulties before going on to present the picture of this problem in the Bible. We are warmly encouraged to grapple with this problem and to question (or shout at) God along with the writer of Psalms in the Old Testament, and to learn of the way God has provided for us to bring us comfort and help, also promising to one day bring to an end the suffering of his people. The book gives us a glimpse of the plan of God for the world according to the Bible - then, it is up to the reader to decide whether this really does hold true or not. John Dickson “keeps it real” too with examples from films like The Truman Show and real-world tragedies he has spoken to people about, read in the news or those that have affected him personally.

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