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The God I Don't Understand—Reflections on Chapter 2

Categories Theology

In this chapter, Chris focuses his attention on "natural" evil—chiefly, because it doesn’t seem to have any moral or rational explanation.

Where do I begin in this post (!)? There’s so much—and Chris presents it so well! What I appreciate most was the humble way in which Chris tackles this topic. And I think he convincingly—in a short space—shows that neither the "curse of God" explanation, nor the "judgment of God" explanation, satisfactory explain the existence of natural disasters.

Chris points to two passages in challenging the "judgment of God" explanation. John 9, in which Jesus seems to say the man’s blindness was not a matter of God’s judgment on sin at all. And Luke 13, where Jesus responded to two local disasters, emphatically rejecting the idea that when disaster happens, it is the judgment of God on someone’s sin.

Personally, I find Chris to be convincing on this point, especially when you add the message of Job and other OT texts. I realize this stands in contrast to John Piper’s thoughts on Luke 13, which I remember reading following the bridge collapse in Minnesota over a year ago. What do you think is happening here in Luke 13? FYI: this is discussed on pages 48-50 of The God I Don’t Understand.

GIDU Chris also discusses in this chapter how the people of the Bible who had a close relationship with God and were faithful to him seem to be the ones who protested the most about suffering and evil in the world.

Now that’s interesting because it runs so counter to our (albeit, stereotypical) view of the spiritually-in-tune, serious believer. Why is it that we rarely see lament, protest, anger, and questions hurled at God by Christ's most devout followers and spiritual leaders? Interestingly, Chris has a footnote to Wolterstorff, who attributes some of this reticence to Calvin’s teaching on the importance of patience under suffering since it ultimately comes from God for our own good. I'd like to dig into this a little further.

So, readers of chapter 2, what do you think?

P.S. There are some great Wright quotes in this chapter. One of them appears courtesy of N. T. (Tom) Wright, who Chris cites as saying, "A tectonic plate’s got to do what a tectonic plate’s got to do."

—Jesse Hillman

Every Wednesday, Zondervan editorial and marketing staff discuss chapters from The God I Don't Understand. Please make plans to join us in the conversation. If you would like to use The God I Don't Understand in a book discussion or small group, there is a free Study Guide available, as well as videos of the author discussing each chapter at

by Miles Van Pelt
by Miles Van Pelt
At Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, Mississippi I have the distinct privilege of teaching all three biblical l...
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