Humans are pattern-seeking creatures, and those with faith in God are often even more so. Dr. Tom Oord’s latest book observes this, helping us to find our way through one of the thornier questions in theology: how do we account for the wide spectrum of negative outcomes, ranging from random and unfortunate accidents all the way to acts of genuine evil? As he begins this journey, he posits a particularly provocative formulation of an idea that gives many people pause:
“…if we should not blame God when things go badly, should we praise God when things go well?” (tULoG, p. 23).
If God is– as so many people insist– ‘in control’, then how do we account for the many times and places where really, really bad stuff happens? And if in fact ‘God is in control,’ is that kind of overwhelming influence even a good thing? We don’t tend to consider ‘control’ to be an asset in other relationships, so why would we think this kind of divine power or restriction or coercion is a moral attribute?
Oord deals with many potential answers to these kinds of questions in a particularly insightful video summary as well.
This book is remarkable. It is a near-comprehensive survey of the wide range of diverse understandings of Divine Sovereignty, but Oord never writes in a way that is anything but plain and understandable. Even more important, he never loses his heart: he starts the book with painful, real-life examples of profound suffering, and he never forgets that this is what he’s writing about. Too, he never forgets who he is writing for: real people with real problems asking really hard questions. Through it all, Oord never whitewashes the bloodstains, or displaces emotion, or ignores pain, or pretends that anything is simple or painless. He gets it.
Don’t read this book if you’re satisfied with simple answers, or if your faith is strong and flawless. But if your experience of life has left you with some good and faithful questions, then Tom Oord is a true guide.
The book won’t be released until December, but you can pre-order it right away.