If we are honest, we have to admit that there are many things we don’t understand about God. We do not have final answers to the deep problems of life, and those who say they do are probably living in some degree of delusion. There are areas of mystery in our Christian faith that lie beyond the keenest scholarship or even the most profound spiritual exercises. For many people, these problems raise so many questions and uncertainties that faith itself becomes a struggle, and the very person and character of God are called into question.
Chris Wright encourages us to face up to the limitations of our understanding and to acknowledge the pain and grief they can often cause. But at the same time, he wants us to be able to say, like the psalmist in Psalm 73: “But that’s all right. God is ultimately in charge and I can trust him to put things right. Meanwhile, I will stay near to my God, make him my refuge, and go on telling of his deeds.”
“This, however, simply will not do—for three reasons. First, because the Old Testament has as much to say about the love and compassion of God as the New Testament does. Second, because the New Testament has as much to say (and more in fact) about the anger and judgment of God as the Old does. Third, because Jesus and the writers of the New Testament never seem to be embarrassed by Old Testament stories, nor do they reject or even correct them (though they do move beyond them).” (Page 77)
“But—and this is the utterly crucial point—the whole purpose of God in choosing Israel was so that the nations would eventually do so. The overall thrust of the Old Testament is not Israel against the nations, but Israel for the sake of the nations.” (Page 100)
“The action of Israel against the Canaanites is never placed in the category of oppression but of divine punishment operating through human agency.” (Page 92)
“So it seems to me that there is no doubt at all, even if one could not put a percentage point on the matter, that the vast bulk of all the suffering and pain in our world is the result, direct or indirect, of human wickedness. Even where it is not caused directly by human sin, suffering can be greatly increased by it.” (Page 32)
“By ‘moral’ evil is meant the suffering and pain that we find in the world standing in some relation to the wickedness of human beings, directly or indirectly.” (Page 30)
It is because Dr. Wright confronts biblical problems with a combination of honesty and humility that I warmly commend this book.
—John R. W. Stott, rector emeritus, All Souls Church
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