Saturday, November 11, 2006

Review: Suffering and the Sovereignty of God


"John Piper and other contributors explore the many categories of God's sovereignty as evidenced in his Word, helping readers form a biblical view of suffering."

Get it from Crossway
Sufferinga and the Sovereignty of God (Eds: John Piper & Justin Taylor, 2006) This book is a breath of fresh air. "If God is good and all powerful, how can there be suffering" is one of the classic objections to Christian faith. All too often this is defended by dropping the sovereignty of God. The hapless Christian conceding that God isn't actually in control... Into this comes a book that makes no attempt to deny the suffering that we experience, nor the sovereignty of God (and it doesn't say God isn't good either).

This book comes with doses of reality - much of it is written by those who have suffered and it's poignancy is added to by the subsequent suffering of Piper and Powlison.

This book is worth owning to have Piper and Powlison's work on "Don't Waste Your Cancer". Their words show us why we should be filled with sound doctrine, prepared in advance for almost inevitable suffering. And that is what makes this book really valuable to the church - we need to be ready for suffering because it will probably come to most of us.

More than that this book reminds us that we're not in the hands of chance but of Sovereign God. And he does not promise an easy ride for his people.

We live in the midst of a fallen world and you can add promises of persecution for Christians.

Desiring God Ministries do the church a great service by hosting conferences on these issues (in addition to last year's one on Sex & The Supremacy of God), and then writing them up for our benefit. The case may not be complete but it's extensive and careful. John Piper's teaching on joy is probably what he is most recognised for, but I wonder whether it may be his gutsy attitude to suffering that is shaped by Scripture that will be his legacy. The church needs to learn how to suffer once more and this book will help us set down a solid anchor before the storm comes, or to help us find our bearings in the midst of the storm.

Paul Huxley's review

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