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What Shall We Say?: Evil, Suffering, and the Crisis of Faith [Paperback]

Thomas G Long

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Book Description

30 April 2014
Tsunamis, earthquakes, famines, wars, diseases these and other devastating forces lead Christians to ask painful questions. Is God all-powerful? Is God good? How can God allow so much innocent human suffering? These questions, taken together, have been called the theodicy problem, and in this book Thomas Long explores what preachers can and should say in response. Long reviews the origins and history of the theodicy problem and engages the work of major thinkers who have posed solutions to it. Cautioning pastors not to ignore urgent theodicy-related questions arising from their parishioners, he offers biblically-based approaches to preaching on theodicy, guided by Jesus parable of the wheat and the tares and the greatest theodicy text in Scripture the Book of Job.

Product details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company (30 April 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802871399
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802871398
  • Product Dimensions: 23 x 15 x 1 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 270,903 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Thomas G Long is Bandy Professor of Preaching and coordinator of the Initiative in Religious Practices and Practical Theology at Candler School of Theology, Emory University. His other books include The Witness of Preaching and Accompany Them with Singing The Christian Funeral.

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Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  11 reviews
19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Innocent Suffering 26 Jan 2012
By Edward A. Schroder - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Thomas G. Long, Bandy Professor of Preaching as Candler School of Theology, Emory University, has done it again. He has a habit of writing books on subjects that are pertinent to today. This time it is about innocent suffering. WHAT SHALL WE SAY? EVIL, SUFFERING, AND THE CRISIS OF FAITH, tackles head on the contention that a good God, who is all-powerful should not allow undeserved evil. In particular he responds to Bart Ehrman's book, GOD'S PROBLEM: HOW THE BIBLE FAILS TO ANSWER OUR MOST IMPORTANT QUESTION - WHY WE SUFFER.
He reviews all the major arguments over the centuries and recent books on the subject, including those of the new atheists: Hitchens and Dawkins, and Harold Kushner's sympathetic, WHEN BAD THINGS HAPPEN TO GOOD PEOPLE. His aim is to encourage preachers to deal with the difficult challenges of unbelief from the pulpit and to avoid bromides.
"There they are out there in the pews, people who want to believe but who are plagued with honest doubts, people who are reminded every day in ways explicit and implicit that their faith in a God who loves humanity and acts in the world benevolently is merely the `unresolved residue of childish fantasy,' people who are pressed by the powerful ideology of science and the pressure of a secular culture to pack their bags and to head out `East of Eden' along the road of unbelief, but who leave reluctantly and with regret and nostalgia, looking back as they go to see if someone, anyone, will speak a word that kindles their faith once again and gives them hope that God is alive and that life is more than a flat, technological world ruled by raw human ambition and power and punctuated by random and meaningless suffering." (p.29)
He has some wonderful stories to tell - excellent witnesses to the spiritual mysteries that transcend our understanding and experience. He is aware that every day people in congregations face suffering for which their theology is not sufficient. They want to know that God loves them, and want to be shown how. After discussing all the arguments, and the book of Job, he ends by exploring the teaching of Jesus in the parable of the wheat and the weeds (Matthew 13:24-30). Jesus locates the presence of evil to the work of the enemy, the devil. "To say that the enemy is the devil is not to revert to pre-scientific fairytale images but to say, through the ancient language of the Scripture, that evil has a cosmic, trans-human reality. Evil is not just a failing; it is a force....Evil is not merely a problem; it is a mystery...It is cosmic because it recognizes that evil is a spiritual force; it is not just a result of human error, natural forces, and understandable conflict, but is rather a force that transcends human capacities and rational explanation....God's enemy is a constant presence and a fact of life." (134-137)
In my book SURVIVING HURRICANES I say the same thing. The problem of innocent suffering is really the problem of evil, the enemy, the devil, the cosmic fall. We have to endure it in this present age until the harvest, when the wheat will be separated from the weeds.
I commend Long's book. It is superb. Anyone who has wrestled with the problems of natural disasters and the evil of human beings, accidents and disease, will find it a great comfort.
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Good, Thought Provoking 29 Mar 2013
By Boydsnest - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This was recommended to me by one of the guys in my church Men's Group and I found it well-written, insightful, and a good basis for discussion. I was surprised at the conclusion I reached after finishing the first time around, but will be going back for some follow-up on my notes.
4.0 out of 5 stars but Thomas Long did a fine job in this book 24 July 2014
By Gail - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book gave one much to think about..a very difficult and profound concept to cover, but Thomas Long did a fine job in this book.
5.0 out of 5 stars and this is the best of them all 23 July 2014
By Harry - Published on Amazon.com
A very exciting book. I've read a number of books on, and discussions of, the problem of evil, and this is the best of them all.
2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Service as Expected. 25 May 2012
By D. Walker - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This work arrived as promised in good condition and on time. Long's logic and Pastoral style make him one of the "go to people" when you are ministering out in the real, fast changing world of today. We look forward to many more of his works and regional workshops. Anyone who reads 1,100 sermons a year knows what's out there and how to guide public religious discourse.
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