Book Review: The Goodness of God

The Goodness of God: Assurance of Purpose in the Midst of Suffering

by Randy Alcorn

If God is in control and He is all powerful, then why do bad things happen?

This is the age old question that Randy Alcorn addresses in his recent book The Goodness of God.  In this book Alcorn takes in incredibly difficult issues that is normally debated at a deep level, and simplifies it in a pastoral way.  Alcorn does not necessarily break any new ground at a philosophical level.  But, he does provide pastoral shepherding on the issue of suffering.  For the majority of people this is far more helpful than a philosophical handling of this issue.

Another benefit to Alcorn’s work is its apologetic value.  Alcorn deals with this issue in a way that it is simply biblical, and at the same time sympathetic to those who are struggling to understand why there is suffering in the world.  This book provides a good introductory response to the issue for unbelievers as well as Christians dealing with questions.

Essentially, Alcorn answer to the question is that we need to stop viewing the issue from our perspective and approach it from God’s perspective (i.e. a biblical perspective).  In Alcorn’s words:

Behind almost every human expression of the problem of evil stands the assumption that somehow we know what God should do.  But unlike him, we are not all-knowing, all-wise, all-loving, all-powerful, and perfectly good—so how could we know?  As finite and fallen individuals, how can we presume to judge God?  Compared to him, we know very little, and even that is often distorted.  We simply lack the necessary qualifications to assess what God should or shouldn’t do. (54)

As a pastor this is a book that will remain on my shelf for future use in counseling and discipleship.  It is encouraging, enlightening, and provided me with a helpful reminder to keep a proper perspective on the difficulties of life.