Item description for How Long, O Lord?: Reflections on Suffering and Evil by D. A. Carson...
Overview A clear and accessible treatment of key biblical themes related to human suffering and evil.
Publishers Description This clear and accessible treatment of key biblical themes related to human suffering and evil is written by one of the most respected evangelical biblical scholars alive today. Carson brings together a close, careful exposition of key biblical passages with helpful pastoral applications. The second edition has been updated throughout.
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Studio: Baker Academic
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 9.12" Width: 6.1" Height: 0.67" Weight: 0.75 lbs.
Release Date Sep 1, 2006
Publisher Baker Publishing Group
ISBN 0801031257 ISBN13 9780801031250
Availability 0 units.
More About D. A. Carson
D. A. Carson is research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois. He has been at Trinity since 1978.
Reviews - What do customers think about How Long, O Lord?: Reflections on Suffering and Evil?
Comforting and Helpful For All Who Read Mar 3, 2007
D.A Carson says that this is not meant to be a philosophical study of the problem of evil, and that it is just a collection of reflections for believers in Christ. Yet after reading the book, I felt that it was something that could benefit everyone. Carson begins by giving some stories from his own experience illustrating the problem of evil in our world. Then he proceeds in the succeeding chapters to discuss what the scripture says about evil and how we can experience the comfort of God in times of grief.
He stops along the way to critique theologies which do not leave room for a theology of evil (John Wimber's theology), and he points people again and again to scripture. Well done!
O Lord at Last Feb 11, 2005
As other reviewers have noted this book is aimed at Christians and not for those looking for immediate relief from some trial in their lives. However, there is very much to commend Carson's work for those beginning to explore suffering, free will, and God's sovereignty and their many links to Christian doctrine and experience. While Carson says at one point that we may wish to skip Chapter 11 on the Mystery of Providence, I think it is worth the price alone.
There were 3 or 4 places in the book where he ended a section with a statement that I thought needed another line or two of explanation, but these are minor issues of style correctable for me by rereading a paragraph. Carson references Basinger & Basinger's Predestination & Free Will and Carson's comments provide a useful supplement and corrective for some of the views in Basinger. For those who quickly run to some sort of theodicy, Carson makes us pause and consider how great a God we do have. Before jumping on the process or open theological train, please read this. Overall this is a very readable yet challenging coverage of the subject.
Outstanding for what it attempts to do Sep 29, 2002
D.A. Carson is one of the more respected theologians of our day. He is one of the few evangelical scholars who has written extensively both on Biblical exegetical and interpretational matters, and on matters of contemporary worldviews and issues. Many evangelical scholars tend to focus on one or the other, but Carson is highly respected in both areas. This work deals with perhaps the most vexing question that has ever faced the human race, the question of suffering. For what Carson is trying to accomplish here, I think he does an exquisite job.
As Carson indicates at the start of this book, the book is not an attempt to provide a full orbed theodicy that will cover all aspects of suffering or the problem of evil. This is not a book that is devoted to exploring the philosophical origins of evil and how such origins reflect on the existence or nature of God. Carson does devote about two chapters to this, but it is not the thrust of the book, as Carson properly points out at the start. This is a book written to Christians mainly as 'preventive medicine' as Carson describes it.
It appears that what Carson is trying to achieve here is to provide the reader with a rather comprehensive analysis of what Scripture says about suffering, and equally important, what Scripture does not say. I thought that a big strength of the book was Carson's insistence on not going beyond the Biblical text to find more palatable or easy answers to such vexing questions that might make people feel better, but are not especially faithful to Scripture. Carson's mission appears to be to lay out for the reader what the Bible says and acknowledging the tensions that the Bible gives us on many aspects of the issue of suffering without using these tensions as an excuse to throw up his hands and declare incoherency. It is here that Carson's supreme expertise in Biblical exegesis becomes evident, and it is a source of comfort to the reader.
I was very impressed with Carson's willingness to repeatedly tackle tough questions and not shying away from difficult Scripture passages. As he says numerous times, the book is not necessarily offering full orbed answers to every tough question, but it is offering very sound and compelling thoughts where Scripture is clear, and acknowledging a certain amount of mystery over what is not clear, and clearly defining both.
Overall, I felt that the book was extremely balanced and thoroughly grounded in Scripture. This is a book that in my view, properly refrains from the extremes of offering overly simplistic answers that pretend to comprehensively deal with this topic, as well as the extreme of overly appealing to divine mystery as a way of dodging the tough questions. This is the best book I've read on the problem of evil that is something other than a philosophical defense. This is an exegetical defense, and a very good one.
Lastly, it needs to be pointed out who ought to read this book. I don't think an unbeliever will get much out of this, as Carson states. It is a book written by a Christian, for Christians who are not looking to use the issue of suffering to debate the existence of God. Likewise, I don't think it's the first book that Christians who are in the grips of suffering should pick up and read either. As Carson states, this is not a book that's really meant to comfort someone who is in the grips of suffering, but rather a book that is meant to provide a Christian foundation for suffering BEFORE the suffering comes so that Christians will have a better basis for coming to grips with it. Although I do think that those who are in the grips of suffering would profit from this book, I think the main audience for this book are Christians who are looking for a Biblical foundation for suffering. I also think that pastors and lay leaders would also greatly profit from this book since I thought there were a number of outstanding insights geared towards those Christians who are called to minister to those who are enduring suffering. It should also be pointed out that because the book was written 10 years ago, some of the discourse on AIDS is outdated and should be taken cautiously.
An outstanding book for what it deals with.
Best treatment I've seen on evil and suffering Jul 9, 2002
Carson presents a biblical theology of suffering, though he doesn't put it that way. He looks at the broad sweep of scripture, seeing the bearing it has on the various problems about evil and suffering. He starts with daily life concerns and how we should view our lives, ourselves, God, other people, and what happens to us. He paints the proper perspective gleaned from the whole portrait of God and his actions throughout history across the scriptures and then warns of some serious dangers we might easily fall into when arriving at conclusions or when dealing with hard times.
The main focus of the book points to themes throughout scripture. The heart of the book has a chapter on each of the following topics - sin, the various kinds of suffering and evil, God's suffering people, hell and holy war, sickness and death, the final restoration we're moving toward, suffering in the book of Job, and God's own suffering. The final chapters look in depth at the mystery involved in our responsibility in a world in which God is absolutely sovereign (in which Carson defends, biblically, compatibilism about God's sovereignty and our responsibility for what we do), the comfort we can derive from God's sovereign care, and some pastoral reflections about how to live our lives in response to the biblical portrait he's examined. He concludes with a 10-page appendix on AIDS.
This is by far the most balanced book I've read on the topic. Most philosophers focus on the problem of evil in intellectual debates and end up saying little of relevance. Most non-philosophers look at how we should respond to suffering in our lives but often in terms of inner psychological matters, as if our own inner problems are the real focus. Alternatively, the popular books could be more or less lists of practical things to do, not always helpful in times of difficulty.
Carson gives full treatment to both kinds of problems but is less concerned with debating intellectual arguments, analyzing psychological issues, or listing off which ten things we need to change in our behavior. His focus is on God has revealed himself and acted in history, treating the biblical text as fundamental.
This is a balanced Christian focus, and other sorts of things can come out of that. In the end he does give practical suggestions, many requiring a change or development in understanding God and his carrying out his purposes in history. He says plenty to apply to the philosopher's problems of evil. He also deals in depth with hell, sin, human responsibility, and God's own suffering, crucial points in a full Christian response to that sort of problem, far more significant a package than either the standard "free will defense" that fits little with scripture or the Leibnizian "best of all possible worlds" response that doesn't fill in any details of what's so good about it.
Carson's treatment of hell, sin, human responsibility, and God's suffering is the place for philosophers to look. Hell isn't the place of torture for a capricious being to get his jollies from people's suffering, nor does it simply keep people from heaven. God's justice is satisfied one way or another (by Christ or by hell), and that's significant. Evil isn't permanent. It gets dealt with by a loving, caring God who won't stand for continuing evil. God's plan of salvation allows evil to continue temporarily so that greater numbers of people might enter salvation by turning to God for help out of sin's ensnarement. A holy God couldn't allow evil in his presence, yet a good God couldn't stand by and do nothing, so he entered history as Jesus Christ to deal with the problem, suffering himself in a greater way than any others would ever suffer, not because of the suffering on the cross, great though that is, but because of his total separation from his Father, something no mere human being has even done yet, since the final judgment is still to come.
Hell is necessary for those who won't admit their rebellion against God and the necessity of his action to solve the problem, since such people are resistant to God to the end. There's no place for them in the restored community of perfection. But it's not so much a place of torment directed against them as the torment within them due to increasing rebellion against God and good. It's what rejecting God points toward, and every human being (besides Jesus) deserves it, but God saves and restores those who follow him. This is the Christian gospel and not new to those who absorb biblical teaching, but its relevance for the problem of evil is often passed over.
If God has suffered more than anyone else, that says something. If hell is the logical result of human rebellion against God (what human attitudes against God would logically lead to) and simultaneously preserves God's people from evil, that's significant. God's plan has huge ramifications if there's a goal to history. Human responsibility for sin explains evil in ways that don't interfere with God's sovereign plan for history, contrary to the standard philosophical approach to these matters. This approach is refreshing after reading lots of "free will defense" responses that make free will primary and necessary, something undermined somewhat by Carson's approach, since God's plan is the key element in all this.
Carson also does more for the human person asking these questions than does abstract statements such as the traditional "best of all possible worlds" response by G.W. Leibniz. Leibniz may be right in some significant sense if God's overarching plan took into account the other ways things could have gone. However, it's terribly misleading, as demonstrated by Voltaire's drastic misunderstanding of Leibniz in his parody Dr. Pangloss (in Candide). What Leibniz intended, and any way Leibniz would be right, has to involve these other aspects emphasized by Carson, and it has to start from where he starts - these key themes in scripture.
COMPATIBILISM IS THE KEY TO EXEGESIS OF MYSTERY Aug 5, 2000
If you seek a different approach to the topic of Sovereignty vs. Agency, Good God vs. Evil Reality, you've come to the right place. Carson's overarching theme is what he calls COMPATIBILITY. When dealing with texts seemingly mutually exclusive,using Scripture's own suppositions yields mutual compatible sense where texts complement each other, not compete or contradict. Mystery in Scripture is not meant to be resolved, but wise exegetes try to elucidate the unknowns that most faithfully and plausibly address counterarguments. When dealing with the Infinite God, multiple truths can co-exist simultaneously on different planes (God's and ours). Good vs. Evil, among other Biblical mysteries, cannot be fully, finitely comprehended, let alone synthesized and exhaustively communicated theologically, logically, metaphysically, philosophically or otherwise. These are merely components of the Biblical 'givens' Scripture's authors teach or assume. The interpreter's challenge is to locate the mystery in the right place, define terms, remain anchored to Scripture's own parameters and givens, ask the right preliminary questions before positing answers and avoid eliminating the tension in mystery between planes (God's and ours) so as not to do violence to either plane. Beware the all too intuitive and natural eisegetical approach that makes absolute, epistemologically precise, phenomenologically rigid, logically/literally wooden reading of marshalled texts the sine qua non of pre-conceived theological systems. This leads to massive misreadings of Scripture which are 'too clever by half'which artificially justify unvalidated a priori's that weave a grid unwittingly filtering out complementary data. Let balanced exegesis taking all compatible(surface tension, depth resolution) texts fairly and plainly and in unison 'stand in their naked power and function without endless reductionism'. Amen!