Wednesday, November 2, 2011

IF GOD IS GOOD...By Randy Alcorn

Randy Alcorn's 500 page book is subtitleld "Faith in the Midst of Suffering". Tackling the age-old issue of "Why does a Good God allow suffering" and it's infinite spinoff questions, he ably and articulately addresses the existential questions of dead philosophers from yesteryear as well as the contemporary living anti-theists whose best-sellers continue to rail hard against the Christian worldview.

Surprisingly, one chapter is dedicated to the peeling back the arguments of "Christian-turned-atheist" Bart Ehrman. With reason and respect, Alcorn gives a solid rationale for Ehrman's false reasoning and even addresses Ehrman's "intellectual honesty" in contrast with CS Lewis.

Some standout quotes include:

"The gospel is God's cure for our disease. Jesus paid the ultimate price to heal us--but we wil not submit ourselves to the treatment if we deny our disease or bemoan its unfairness. Healing can come only when we recognize we are sinners in need of a Savior." (71)

"Non-theistic worldviews may not let God into the family room, but they habitually smuggle him in through the back door. They try to put something in his place to give life meaning, but God remains the primary reference point behind the secondary ones they recognize." (110)

"In the post-Enlightenment era Voltaire asked, "How can God be so cruel?" In the pre-Enlightenment Reformation era Luther asked, "How can God be so merciful?" (122)

IF GOD IS GOOD is a heavy read yet not too heady so as to delve into academic jargon far beyond the reach of the casual reader. I am grateful for this. Alcorn has a pastor's heart and weaves an abundance of scholarly research and distills it to make it accessible for average readers to understand.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

TAKING ON THE GODS: The Task of the Pastoral Counselor by Merle R. Jordan

Professor Norm Thiesen teaches Pastoral Counseling at Western Seminary and has assigned us 10 hours of reading from a variety of Christian and secular books on counseling. As I read Merle R. Jordan's "Taking on the Gods" this morning on my train ride to work, I was struck by this quote:

Howard Thurman tells of an idea impressed upon him by his beloved grandmother, who had been a slave on a southern plantation:

"The idea was given to her by a certain slave minister who, on occasion, held secret religious meetings with his fellow slaves. How everything in me quivered with the pulsing tremor of raw energy when, in her recital, she would come to the triumphant climax of the minister: 'You -- you are not niggers. You -- you are not slaves. You are God's children.'" (p. 23)

Amen to this amazing truth! An appropriate reminder during this month of February which also commemorates Black History Month.

...and woe to the rappers and modern day slave-makers who preach otherwise. Praise to the God who elevates us over the derogatory names and profanities and lies that the world spews and instead, gives us His name, His grace, and His identity in which we can fully rest!

Get the book "Taking on the Gods: The Task of the Pastoral Counselor" by Merle R. Jordan here: