Sunday, March 16, 2008
Bart Ehrman's New Book-- God's Problem
Well its Holy Week, and of course we have come to expect bombshells lobbed at the church by various pundits during this week, and right on cue we have a new book by Bart Ehrman that suggests "we can't believe a good all powerful God exists because there is suffering in the world." My friend Dr James Howell, the senior minister at Myers Park UMC in Charlotte has now reviewed an advance copy of the book, and here is his review (see link below)--- right on target. (N.B. Howell has a PhD in theology from Princeton and a top drawer degree from Duke as well. He is not your average minister).
This book is sad in many ways, not the least of which is, it doesn't even meaningfully interact with any of the great scholars and theologians over the past 2,000 who had wrestled with the issue of God and suffering. It is as if Ehrman discovered there are issues in regard to suffering for a belief in God.
In one sense of course, Bart Ehrman's views are understandable. If you are raised to believe that a good sovereign God before the beginning of time pre-determined all things that have happen in this world, then indeed you have a severe problem of logic when it comes to both sin and suffering, both misery and mayhem. But in fact the God of fatalism with all things predetermined is not the God of the Bible. That is the God of Islam, but not Christianity at its best.
The Bible teaches that most of human suffering is of our own making, not predestined by God. There is this little doctrine called the Fall, and also the matter of humans being created with wills of their own. Both the Fall and at least the power of contrary choice in fallen persons more than adequately explains most of the wickedness we see in the world--- it is, as Tennyson used to say "a case of man's inhumanity to man". Read Jame's review and see what whether you think you need to read Ehrman's polemic or not.