9.5.10

the GOD i Don't Understand



Christopher J.H. Wright, The God I Don't Understand (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2008) 221pgs.

Christopher Wright has, apparently, been around and writing for a long time. I had no idea. I wish I had. He is an Old Testament (OT) scholar who has written quite a few books that look like they could be worth reading. In the meantime, I had this book recommended to me by a friend who knew I was thinking through, and struggling with, the issue of the Canaanite genocide texts in the OT. So, I picked it, and I am very glad I did.

In this book Wright writes about different things about God, or God's actions/plan, that he does not understand. They are, he lays out in his introduction, mysteries. But they are mysteries of different sorts. Thus, he begins with the the problem of evil, and of genocide commands in the OT. Both issues which make him angry and grieved and morally disturbed and puzzled. His third section, however, focuses on the Cross. And his fourth, and final, section is "What about the End of the World?" These are issues which fill him with gratitude and hope, even though they are difficult to understand.

Beyond that outline, I have nothing but praise for this book. It is an honest approach to difficult questions. Rather than seek a complete answer to all the questions he grapples with, Wright is satisfied to leave them as a mystery. Instead of offering answers he seeks to make the reader think. He wants to position the reader in such a way that their thinking on these issues is clear so that they can appreciate the mystery. To do this, he first seeks to remove common misunderstandings surrounding the issue, and then offers guidelines and hints which point us beyond the problem to hope, even if not to full understanding. In this, Wright is insightful and wise.

His conclusion on the mystery of evil serves, I believe, as the best example of this: "God with his infinite perspective, and for reasons known only to himself, knows that we finite human beings cannot, indeed must not, 'make sense' of evil. For the final truth is that evil does not makes sense. 'Sense' is part of our rationality that in itself is part of God's good creation and God's image in us. So evil can have no sense, since sense itself is a good thing."

Another book I highly recommend, most especially if you are interested in apologetics or have similar questions as Wright. Even if you do not fit those descriptions, however, this book is worth your time just in that it will help clarify your thinking on important issues of the Christian faith.

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