The God I Don’t Understand: Reflections on Tough Questions of Faith
Christopher J. H. Wright is both eloquent and masterful in his newest offering on those problematic issues that have stymied even the most thoughtful Christian believers throughout the ages. Wright's work is important because, as he admits in the very first chapter, even though he is a Bible scholar and a theologian, "It seems to me that the older I get, the less I think I really understand God." He continually grows deeper in love with and trust in God, while his struggle "...with what God does or allows grows deeper too." Thus, the foundation for this book on loving and trusting God even when not understanding His ways is laid.
Wright tackles four areas of debate and concern found in the scriptures, and he does so by quoting generous portions of the Bible pertinent to each topic. These in-depth materials delve into:
* Evil and suffering: its mystery, offence and defeat.
* The Canaanites: three dead ends and three frameworks
* The Cross: why, what, how and what scripture says
* The End of the World: cranks, controversies, the great climax and the new beginning
Readers will appreciate Wright's carefully written tone of humility and the great care he gives to setting down these topics as a fellow sojourner in the walk of faith. His section on evil and suffering is especially well put. It is this single area that frequently haunts and exasperates believers as they watch other's sufferings and/or endure their own. As Wright shares, evil truly is a problem at every level for Christians, and the mystery of why God allows it won't be fully answered in this life.
The time-worn refrain uttered by both believers and those not of faith of "Why does God allow...(fill in the blank)" has been the accusatory cry against God as long as there has been recorded history.
Yet Wright counters this claim with a supposed answer from God who very well could point the finger back at man and ask, “Why is it that you (men) allow children to die every day of preventable diseases? Why are you so gluttonous while others die of starvation? Why do you spend more on a cup of coffee than many have to live on each day? Why are there so many more people still in slavery now than in the pre-abolition slave trade days? And why are millions living as refugees when you fuel your selfish, greedy, ambitious lifestyle?
Wright's treatise continues in similar form, offering biblical accounts and cautious study on each area of concern and then similarly detailed sessions of making sense of the mysterious thing we humans call faith. Thoughtful readers will greatly appreciate Wright's work and will doubtless return to it many times for continued inspiration, encouragement and discussion.
Reviewed by Michele Howe on December 23, 2008