Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Randy Alcorn's Latest & a Giveaway!

Randy Alcorn's latest book tackles a difficult subject which lies at the very core of our beliefs. I've had such a hard time getting started on this review that I can't imagine even attempting to write the book itself, but I'm so glad Randy did. This is a solid, thought-provoking, and well-written book.

If God is Good: Faith in the Midst of Suffering and Evil deals with the prime questions people ask today:
Why would an all-good and all-powerful God create a world full of evil and suffering? And then, how can there be a God if suffering and evil exist?

No trite answers here. This book is peppered with Scriptural references. (In the back is a 7-page, triple-column index of somewhere around 1000 references!) When I began the book, I decided to use those little Post-it flags to mark pages to which I might want to refer later. I'm wondering now if that will actually be helpful, for there are so many flags that I might as well have an unmarked book!

Randy begins by defining evil. For we must understand evil to acknowledge our own sin. Only then will we begin to grasp God's goodness and His grace.
Unless we come to grips with the fact that we're of precisely the same stock as [a convicted child-murderer] and Stalin and Mao, we'll never get over thinking that we deserve better. Evil done to us will offend us and having to suffer will outrage us. We'll never appreciate Christ's grace so long as we hold on to the proud illusion that we're better than we are. We flatter ourselves when we look at evil acts and say, "I would never do that." Given our evil nature and a similar background, resources, and opportunities, we would. (p. 76)

He also offers a discussion of worldviews that are contradictory to the Bible, utilizing Scripture to point out their fallacies. I think believers are sometimes fearful of reading books by or having discussions with atheists because they feel threatened by their assertions. This book is an excellent resource to assist believers in understanding those perspectives and how inconsistent they are with Scripture. (Caveat, we generally cannot debate someone into the kingdom. Individuals were always trying to engage Jesus in theological debates, and He sidestepped those to deal directly with matters of the heart. People generally do not care how much we know until they know how much we care.)

Randy tackles the difficult and often hotly debated question of Divine Sovereignty vs. Human Choice thoroughly and boldly, acknowledging that both "sides" have supporting scriptures. He encourages the reader not to simply pick and choose scriptures that support one's theology but to adapt one's theology to the Scriptures, quoting Charles Spurgeon as saying,
These two truths, I do not believe can ever be welded into one upon any human anvil, but one they shall be in eternity: they are two lines that are so nearly parallel that the mind that shall pursue them fathest, will never discover that they converge; but they do converge, and they will meet somewhere in eternity, close to the throne of God, whence all truth doth spring. (p. 278)

I am eager to complete the last third of the book, for flipping through I see many great nuggets such as: God's delay of justice is actually a demonstration of His patience and grace, how He uses suffering for His glory and our sanctification, and finding God in the midst of suffering.

This is not a quick read just because of the nature of the subject and the size of the book. However, while the concepts are weighty, the wording is down-to-earth. Some theological tomes are written such that I can't even understand the sentences, much less the concepts presented! But this is presented in a very approachable style, and I highly recommend it.

Randy Alcorn is the founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries (EPM). Prior to 1990, when he started EPM, he served as a pastor for fourteen years. He has spoken around the world and has taught on the adjunct faculties of Multnomah Bible College and Western Seminary in Portland, Oregon.

Randy is the best-selling author of twenty-seven books (over three million in print), including the novels Deadline, Dominion, and Deception as well as Lord Foulgrin's Letters, the Gold Medallion winner Safely Home, and Wait Until Then (children's picture book about Heaven). His fourteen nonfiction works include Money, Possessions and Eternity, ProLife Answers to ProChoice Arguments, In Light of Eternity, The Treasure Principle, The Grace & Truth Paradox, The Purity Principle, The Law of Rewards, Why ProLife, Heaven, Heaven for Kids (8-12 year olds), 50 Days of Heaven (meditations on Heaven) and Tell Me About Heaven (picture book illustrated by Ron DiCianni).

Randy has written for many magazines and produces the popular periodical Eternal Perspectives. He's been a guest on over 500 radio and television programs including Focus on the Family, The Bible Answer Man, Family Life Today, Revive Our Hearts, Truths that Transform and Faith Under Fire.

The father of two married daughters, Randy lives in Gresham, Oregon, with his wife and best friend, Nanci. They are the proud grandparents of four grandsons, Jacob, Matthew, Tyler and Jack. Randy enjoys hanging out with his family, biking, tennis, research and reading.

For more information on this author, please be sure to visit www.epm.org. To see the author's life and perspectives, check out his blog at www.randyalcorn.blogspot.com.

Go to the publisher's site to order If God is Good, read an excerpt, or find a local or online location to purchase this book.

I just have to do a giveaway! If you would like to read this book, enter a comment and I will send you a new one directly from Amazon. Leave a second comment letting me know you mentioned and linked to the giveaway on your blog and get an extra chance to win. Comments must be submitted by Sunday evening (9/27) at 6:00 pm CDT and I will draw a winner. US mailing addresses only. Be sure to leave me a way to contact you if you don't have a blog.

And even if you don't win, GOD IS GOOD!


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Katherine said...

This book looks really good. Please enter me for this drawing.


sara said...

He is one of my favorite authors and I am dying to read this book.....new random integer widget be good to me!! :)

Kim said...

No need to enter me...my post goes up on Thursday for this awesome book! Wasn't it just fabulous??!

quilly said...

Linda -- this sounds like just the book I've been looking for!

I have put your giveaway up in my contest reminder (see my left sidebar) and posted here: http://quilldancer.com/2009/09/22/contest-shout-out/

Melli said...

Indeed He is! And even if I don't win, I will STILL read this book! It's going in my Amazon cart right now! I won't actually buy it until I find out who wins! ;)

Skoots1moM said...

sounds like it might be a good study for my small group...count me in, please.

Heidi said...

Finally after 3 tries, I'm in! This is a great review. I recently (well not so recently anymore- a while back)signed on to do reviews for TN, also. But for my first book, I chose something that has been really hard for me to get into. I'm finally getting it read!

Don't know if TN has a time limit on how long it takes a reviewer to read a book.

This is on our new release shelf at the bookstore where I have just begun to work. I'd like to read it and probably will, eventually.

Heidi@2 Thinks to Share

Carole said...

I'm so glad you posted about this book, Linda. If it's anything like "Heaven," his treatment of God's goodness will be wonderful. I ordered it for my Kindle, so don't enter me.

Shari said...

God is truly good---no ifs about it! Thanks for the review. The topic is timely through the ages--now, in Spurgeon's day and Job's too. I'm looking forward to reading this and sharing with a friend or two.

Unknown said...

Well, I've got a post up about your giveaway now!

Mel @ Studio MCA Designs said...

I would love to read this book. Thanks to Cathy Davis for sending me your way.


Anonymous said...

What an inspiration...please count me in...thanks.

karen k

MsRay said...

Thank you for featuring this book. This will remind us that we have a powerful God whom we can call upon when we are in the midst of trials.

Count me in your give-away contest. I'll post about it in my blog so others will know :)

Deborah said...

Yes, I would love the opportunity to read this book. It sound intense, yet needed.

Debbie Petras said...

Linda, I would so love to read this book. Thank you for the opportunity to enter this giveaway. So much is happening right now in the way of suffering. I'm so glad that Randy Alcorn wrote this book now. I so agree that unless people know and see we care they won't want to listen to us.

Sita said...

Absolute must for me...so go ahead, draw my name, please! (;

Sita said...

..just read--US addresses only---shoots---does 2 hours away from the border work(;