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Is God to Blame? Moving Beyond Pat Answers to the Problem of Suffering [Paperback]

By Gregory A. Boyd (Author)
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Item description for Is God to Blame? Moving Beyond Pat Answers to the Problem of Suffering by Gregory A. Boyd...

Is God to Blame? This is often the question that comes to mind when you confront real suffering in your life or in the lives of those you love. Pastor Boyd deals with this question honestly and biblically while avoiding glib answers. Writing for ordinary Christians, Boyd wrestles with a variety of answers that have been offered by theologians and pastors in the past. He finds that a fully Christian approach must keep the person and the work of Christ at the very center of what we say about human suffering and God's place in it. Yet this is often just what is missing and what makes so much talk about the subject seem inadequate and at times misleading. What comes through is a hopeful picture of a sovereign God who is relentlessly opposed to evil, who knows your suffering, and who can be trusted to bring you through to renewed life.

Publishers Description
Is God to blame? This is often the question that comes to mind when we confront real suffering in our own lives or in the lives of those we love. Pastor Gregory A. Boyd helps us deal with this question honestly and biblically, while avoiding glib answers. Writing for ordinary Christians, Boyd wrestles with a variety of answers that have been offered by theologians and pastors in the past. He finds that a fully Christian approach must keep the person and work of Jesus Christ at the very center of what we say about human suffering and God's place in it. Yet this is often just what is missing and what makes so much talk about the subject seem inadequate and at times even misleading. What comes through inIs God to Blame? is a hopeful picture of a sovereign God who is relentlessly opposed to evil, who knows our sufferings and who can be trusted to bring us through them to renewed life.

From Publishers Weekly
Beginning with the story of Melanie, overwhelmed by the struggle to accept her baby's death as part of God's perfect plan, Boyd challenges Christians to rethink their assumptions about God and suffering, guided by the principle that "amidst the vast sea of things we cannot know, we can know that God looks like Jesus Christ." Boyd, pastoral theologian and author of Letters from a Skeptic and God at War, has attracted controversy in evangelical circles by questioning traditional doctrines of divine sovereignty-the idea that God is in total control of what happens in the universe, assigning good and bad events to human lives in accordance with a wise, if inscrutable, plan. Boyd argues forcefully that, for Christians, the deepest revelation of God's character has to be the cross of Christ, where God's glory is revealed not as compelling power but as sacrificial love. The book draws on a wide range of biblical material, including the Book of Job, accounts of answered prayer and Jesus' response to human suffering. All of these passages show God contending with a semi-independent creation that often resists the divine will. Thus the mystery of suffering resides not in God's inscrutable will or a possible "dark streak" in God's character, but in the complexity of a universe where freedom and risk are realities that even God must experience. Always compassionate, sometimes cantankerous and capturing biblical concepts with memorable clarity, this challenging book should be a valued resource for pastors, counselors, support groups and individual study. (Oct.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Citations And Professional Reviews
Is God to Blame? Moving Beyond Pat Answers to the Problem of Suffering by Gregory A. Boyd has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
  • Library Journal - 10/01/2003 page 81
  • Publishers Weekly - 08/25/2003 page 60

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Item Specifications...

Studio: IVP Books
Pages   228
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.28" Width: 5.53" Height: 0.66"
Weight:   0.55 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Oct 9, 2003
Publisher   IVP-InterVarsity Press
ISBN  0830823948  
ISBN13  9780830823949  

Availability  0 units.

More About Gregory A. Boyd

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Gregory A. Boyd, formerly professor of theology at Bethel College, is senior pastor of Woodland Hills Church where average attendance has grown to 5,000 since he helped plant the church in 1992. He is the author of many books, including the critically acclaimed Seeing Is Believing and the best-selling Gold Medallion Award-winner Letters from a Skeptic. He lives in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Al Larson is a national board certified counselor and the president and founder of Dynamics of Growth Inc., a counseling, consulting, and training organization. He lives in Oakdale, Minnesota.

Gregory A. Boyd currently resides in the state of Minnesota. Gregory A. Boyd was born in 1957.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Health, Mind & Body > Death & Grief > Grief & Bereavement
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Authors, A-Z > ( B ) > Boyd, Gregory A.
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Bible > General
4Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > General

Christian Product Categories
Books > Christian Living > Practical Life > Grief, Suffering, Consolation

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Reviews - What do customers think about Is God to Blame? Moving Beyond Pat Answers to the Problem of Suffering?

No Two Biblical Interpretations May Coexist   Oct 12, 2006
I open with a Bible verse from the Gospel of Matthew Chapter 5 verse 40, "and if anyone would sue you and take your coat, let him have your cloak as well;" Any Biblical literalist who is willing to put that verse into action, I am willing to listen to. In the meantime tremendous quantities of words by certain sectors of the self avowed Biblically correct have been spilled out upon this book in these reviews. A universal anger among certain of the devout permeates an assessment of how God allows free will to act. I am so glad that my fellow man feels free to impose his interpretations of Scripture on me as writ large by God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit and him or her self as the case may be. Amateur exegesis at this level is awe inspiring if for nothing more than its intolerant virulence. Obviously, a preponderance of the readers of this book as reflected in these threads are offended by Boyd's proposition that God is not the direct author of every evil event in the world and the cosmos.

Which leads me to the following observation. Boyd musters a plausible case for his theology backed by reasonable Biblical exegesis. Is this book a tour de force by a master theologian? No, but it does represent one possible Bible based exposition of the problems of the authorship and responsibility for evil in the world. The constant reminder that Jesus Christ is the revelation of the one true God who assumed human form for our salvation and edification is paramount to Boyd's knowledge of God. The radical egalitarian love of Jesus is constantly pointed out as the true reflection of God the Father. Other interpretations of scripture are assuredly available, and Boyd makes no exclusive claims for his theology. However, it is the certainty of the correctness of their theology on the part of many in the reviewing population that distresses me. Hidebound doctrinal arguments and positions of self righteousness are tearing the Church apart. The Church is the body of Christ on earth. What are we doing other than the work of Satan? Where is Christian love, tolerance and corrective spirit when needed? Boyd speaks for a kinder gentler God who allows us the freedom to cavort with the devil if we wish. However, he does not attribute responsibility for the results of our iniquity to a master plan of the Lord.

This is the first and last book I will be reviewing that deals with contemporary Christianity. This book came up for me to read in the context of a structured conversation on Augustine and free will. If one looks at my reviews, they will find them centered on the history of the early Church and antiquity. The early Church suffered through just such problems of division as we do today. And to its credit, the early Church always sought to reform and reintegrate the "holier than thou" as exemplified by the Mellitians and Donatists, and it attempted to rehabilitate and bring back into communion its heretics. Each soul and life is and was precious to God. It was only later that the Church burned dissenters and heretics at the stake. And please remember, the author of this book is not some "new age" liberal theologian. He is a respected scholar at a conservative mid-western theological seminary. He is also the pastor of a major evangelical church in St. Paul, Minnesota. And yes, he has lost over twenty percent of his flock because of his theology and writings. I can only suggest that one reads and reflects on this book and makes up their own mind as to whether Boyd is right or wrong. If the idea of God as author of all evil in the world as part of His inscrutable plan for His creation disturbs you, this book will present an alternate, albeit hotly contested, look at the issue. It was in 1919 when one of the most brilliant minds of the 20th Century, Bertrand Russell, at the end of World War One stated and I paraphrase, "If this war was part of your God's divine plan, I do not wish to know Him." Do not Christians wish God to be known to all men?
Hypocrisy of Boyd and His Church  Oct 6, 2006
I have been told positive things about Boyd and had intended to read this book on spiritual warfare. I have also attended a few of his services with my brother in the Twin Cities; however, after my most recent contact with his church, requesting assistance against the VERY SPIRITUAL WARFARE he writes about in his books, I no longer have faith in or desire to read anything he writes.

I was met with a very un-Christian, un-Christ-like response by Boyd's church, Woodland Hills, when I recently approached them about an issue of very real spiritual warfare. The reponses I met were as follows:

1) "I don't think we can help you, as you're not a member of our church"
2) No response to my voicemail
3) A limp response by phone and email only after a friend of mine, who had been a member of the church for some time, wrote them an email telling them about my disappointment in their reaction to my request.

Boyd may be a brilliant scholar and theologian, but that does not necessarily make him a true Christian.

I'm disgusted, angry, disappointed, and saddened by Boyd and his church's reaction to the real thing - actual, visceral, spiritual warfare. It leaves me with a few very clear ideas about Boyd:

1) He is clueless when it comes to confronting actual Evil
2) He is too conceited to admit that he is actually helpless in the very matters he writes about
3) His writing and thoughts have no real credibility because they have no application to reality

I will add, too, that his book, "Letters from a Skeptic", which was recommended to me, reads much like Spirituality for Dummies and perhaps conveys the condescending attitude underlying his faithful facade.

In the end, it is up to you to decide whether or not you care to read and trust the words of a hypocrite.
Not all things that happen are God's will  May 24, 2006
Boyd explores the idea that not everything that happens in our world is God's will. He develops the thesis that we were created with true free will, which necessitates the possibility of things happening which God does not want to happen. The practical implication in regards to suffering is that when we suffer, God suffers with us, rather than causing our suffering for some higher purpose.

Another idea Boyd discusses is that rather than God's will being something which is inscrutable and creation being relatively simple, he suggests that God's will is easy to understand (it is demonstrated in Jesus Christ), but creation is incomprehensibly complicated.

Boyd emphaszies that our starting point in understanding God's character needs to be Jesus Christ. He is our starting point. Everything we need to know about God was revealed in Him. Starting from here, he seeks to develop a theology of suffering which is consistent with the picture of God which Jesus Christ presented.
A balanced view of Evil  Sep 19, 2005
This is a great book with a balanced view of evil. This book is a shorter version of Satan and the problem of Evil, by the same author. This book presents a theology that explains the problem of evil in a way that the layperson can fully understand how a God of Love can also be a God of Wrath. It presents a realistic theology dealing with Satan and the fallen angels, and mankind's responsibility for evil in this world. This book does all these things while preserving and even expanding God's sovereignty, and demonstrating that men and women have a free will.
...other books to read  Mar 17, 2005
For someone who has read some of Boyds books I don't agree with everything he says....he does get you thinking and for thinking people he has compelling answers that shouldnt be tossed aside lightly. We should be thinking reasoning christians not looking for the pat answers that plague so many christian answers to life. Not that we set aside the Biblical truth for our own but likewise we don't discard completely human reason. I find it so interesting to read others reviews that denounce his books with an almost hateful attitude. I have heard that we become just like the God that we revere. If you believe in a god of hate in any form and violence you will most likely become just that. Two other wonderful books that come from another viewpoint but support a God of love and relationship, might be interesting to people who have read this book. They are "Servants or Friends?: Another Look at God" and "Can God be trusted?" both by author Graham Maxwell. These books and I think Boyds books give christian and non christian alike, hope in biblical truth and the truth about the father and the son, that they are both for us not against us...our freedom and his wanting of a relationship with us is paramount.

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