What is a truly universal human experience? What is something that every human being will experience at one level or another? If you answered suffering you would be right on the money. Randy Alcorn’s recent book, If God is Good, aims to address the questions that people often ask in relation to suffering and evil. These questions are made all the more poignant in light of the New Atheist’s movement which often sites suffering and evil as one of their primary arguments against the existence of God. On the other end of the spectrum sit the purveyors of a “health and wealth” gospel that claim God only has good in store for us. Alcorn aims to help the reader see that evil and suffering do not disprove or weaken God, but instead ultimately work to prove His goodness and bring Him greater glory.
Alcorn presents the book in an interesting fashion. He breaks up the book into small, and very manageable, chunks. Within each chapter of the book are much smaller sections each introduced by a bold heading. The bold headings are essentially summaries of what is about to follow in the text. This makes it easy to skim back through a chapter to find a section dealing with a particular concern that a reader might want to review at a later date. While it might make the book feel a bit choppy to have it so divided up, it works well and allows Alcorn to cover a lot of ground in a much shorter amount of space.
As for the usefulness of this book, I wish I could give a copy to everyone I know. I found the book particularly useful in light of my chosen profession (minister and military Chaplain). Those in ministry are often faced with suffering and people asking questions related to suffering. These are among the most difficult questions that a minister or chaplain will ever face mostly because they are often asked by grieving and hurting people. Alcorn provides a wonderful resource for ministers to help prepare them to address those questions. He is very thorough in addressing the issues and uses Scripture copiously. The index of Scripture verses at the end of the book is a valuable tool by itself for finding Biblical texts related to suffering.
Alcorn does a great job of infusing the book with a strong human element. Just about every page of the book contains a story, letter, or quote from a person who has endured great suffering in life. He pulls in stories that range from the horrors of the holocaust to parents enduring the loss of their children in a tragic car accident. With each human story Alcorn presents the case that suffering and evil do not disprove God’s goodness or existence but instead provide a strong argument for the exact opposite.
Since suffering and evil are universal human experiences, I would highly recommend that you pick up this book. This is a book that you will want to keep in your library so that you can refer back to it again and again as life happens and suffering continues. It serves as a powerful reminder that despite a world full of suffering that God remains sovereign and in control of the whole of human history.
I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review. I was not required to write a positive review.