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The Innocence of God [Paperback]

By Udo Middelman (Author)
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Item description for The Innocence of God by Udo Middelman...

Explores the sovereignty of God and the continual battle of a good and powerful God for his creation.

Publishers Description
The Bible teaches us that God is sovereign over all. Does that mean that in his sovereignty and foreknowledge, all events are determined? What about evil and the choices of man to disobey God or not believe in him at all?What a choice to have to choose between a good but weak God or a bad but strong God. The sovereignty of God, the existence of evil, the responsibility of man ... how do these work together to explain human history and the reality of the world around us? Belief in the sovereignty of God has lead to extreme forms of determinism, while a rejection of God?'s sovereignty has resulted in an openness view of history, which assumes the idea of a God with limited power and knowledge. In "The Innocence of God," Udo Middelmann critiques both positions and demonstrates the continuing battle of a good and powerful God for his creation. God admonishes us to seek justice, goodness and mercy in the continuing struggle against evil. The truth of God?'s patient, yet powerful battle for redemption is absent when everything has been already determined.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Paternoster
Pages   224
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.47" Width: 5.54" Height: 0.6"
Weight:   0.7 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Oct 10, 2007
ISBN  1934068047  
ISBN13  9781934068045  

Availability  0 units.

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1Books > Special Features > New & Used Textbooks > Humanities > Religious Studies > Christianity
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > Apologetics

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Reviews - What do customers think about The Innocence of God?

Trying to get God off the hook  Mar 12, 2008
Reviewed by Dr. Michael Philliber for Reader Views (2/08)

Faced with tsunamis that wipe out thousands of people, brutal wars, pointless slaughter of innocent people at market places, destructive sex trafficking, governments that look the other way or complicit with injustice, and a host of other evils, humans try hard to make sense of evil. They generally seek to construct reasonable systems of answers revolving around God, good, evil, destiny, fate, and karma. Udo Middlemann has endeavored to do the same in "The Innocence of God," where he has taken head on two important theological systems within Christianity that have tried to answer the problem of a world of evil and a good God, "Calvinism" and "Openness Theology." Though it seems he has tried to write this for the average layperson, it is more on the level of professional theologians and pastors.

The best Middlemann offers to the reader in "The Innocence of God" is the reminder that in this real world, evil happens, God is innocent of the evil, He has chosen to do something about it and we can too. He draws most often from the biblical book of Job, and shows that true evil does not come from the hand of God. Instead, there is a real fight going on from heaven to earth between the evil one and God, and that humans and creation are part of this fight. Creation is more the amoral scene that suffers and is marred by this conflict, while humans, through their freely chosen decisions and actions, enter into the contest, choosing sides and suffering the consequences of their own sins and the sins of others. Because evil is really loose in the world the decent often suffer disease, confiscation of their property, and injustice, while the wicked frequently go unpunished and gain greater and greater power. Though Middlemann doesn't give any substantive guidelines on how to be part of the remedy, he at least has done the readers a service by reminding them that this struggle is being waged all around us and everyone of us is choosing sides. We don't have to stoically bow to some inevitable destiny that all this evil and suffering is somehow `God's will for me and I just need to submit.'

Though Middlemann spends a small portion of time denouncing "Openness of God" theology, he expends most of his book's space, ink and paper taking on what he calls "Calvinism," which he lumps in with a fatalistic and deterministic view of the happenings in the world. This is surprising for two reasons. The first is that his father-in-law was the late Francis A. Schaeffer, who was a Christian apologist and a Calvinist (Middlemann is the president of the Francis A. Schaeffer foundation]. The second reason is that Middlemann spends almost seven whole chapters debunking a poorly caricatured Calvinism. He accuses Calvinism of succumbing to the same defeatism as fatalistic materialism and biological, chemical, genetic and social determinism. At one point he even goes so far as to claim that Calvinism is guilty of causing many suicides because it breeds despair in peoples' minds and hearts. Though this is not the place to have a theological argument, suffice it to say that healthy and wholesome Calvinism is not fatalistic, and agrees that people do freely choose their positions in this cosmic-creation struggle between God and evil.

Though there are only a few editorial slip-ups, the majority of the book fights to be logically consistent. There are occasional contradictions in the writer's notions, disconnected thoughts between paragraphs, and a shallow handling of several passages of Scripture.

"The Innocence of God" gives the initial impression that it will help Christians to grasp and comprehend the tension between evil and the goodness of God. But as the book unfolds it increasingly becomes a tirade against Calvinism, more specifically a highly caricaturized Calvinism, and is therefore a sad disappointment. I would imagine that most readers would not be satisfied with much of the material, or not completely happy with the writer's conclusions.

If you've ever sqirmed inside when God is blamed.....  Feb 19, 2008
If youve ever winced when, in the face of someones personal pain and chaos, some well-meaning Christian says, dont worry Gods got it all in control, then The Innocence of God is the book youve been waiting for. If youve ever looked away in shame when a fellow-believer explains away premature death or terminal illness to a grieving parent as all part of Gods will, then this is the book that will help you to understand why your spirit stings at those words. If youve hoped for a book to help you to articulate the answers that you know inside are true when Gods character is smeared by these reasonable accusations of the unbeliever - If God is good, then why does He allow the horrors of war and disease to ravage His creation? If He is really in control, then isnt He responsible for pain, suffering, and, yes, even unbelief? If these things are happening against His will then why isnt He powerful enough to stop them? then this is the book that you must read.

In The Innocence of God, Udo Middelmann takes on the formidable task of attacking the big issue of Gods character and power in light of a world that certainly seems to contradict the notion that the hand of a loving Father is truly in charge and micro-managing human affairs. With pin-point accuracy, Middleman focuses in on all of the modern pop Christian concepts about Gods involvement in the big issues of history and the intimate issues of our lives and exposes them to the light of Biblical truth and solid Christian reason. The author sets up his task by quoting Bertrand Russells famous statement from 1967s Why I Am Not A Christian: when we face real life we must conclude that there is no God, or that God is evil, or that God is too weak to do anything about cruelty, death, and pain. Rather than rant against this philosophy, Middelmann dissects the nature of Gods creation, how it works, why it is the way it is, and what God is, in fact, doing about it. In this view we see a God who is well aware of the fallen state of the world and has actively been in motion to set it right, but always through means that have been given over into the hands of His created beings. Gods good name has been slandered, according to Middleman, and often by Christians seeking the false comfort of a life where Gods will is accomplished even in spite of our actions or inactivity. Starting with our sentimental view of the peaceful, orderly quality of nature (and questioning the wisdom of all of the sweet nature-imagery we put under Bible verses on our calendars and postcards), Middelmann proceeds to trace the evolution of Christian thought to certain critical points where our understanding was corrupted by the practices and views of, for instance, the Greeks, who saw the role of the gods as puppeteers and controllers of various phases of life. Its the pagan religion, Middleman shows, that believes in a god that simply controls all aspects of life and destiny. The wonderful truth is that the Judeo-Christian view is the only one that encourages true, critical thinking and decision-making, which enables relationship and the exercise of free-will.

Yes, the author knocks the props out from under many a comforting set of faulty beliefs that take the responsibility for handling things on this fallen planet out of our hands and puts the onus totally on God. The Innocence of God makes it clear, through looking logically at scripture, that God has indeed provided a personal solution through the substitutionary death of His Son, but that there is a fallen world that we are to deal with as history unfolds in real time. God provides the strength and the spirit, but we must decide to move in accordance to His plan at the end of the day, its all about making decisions and acting upon them in the stream of time and space. The author never sells God short, but delineates His working in the individual hearts of men and women to affect the real-time situations on this planet. Middleman frequently introduces intriguing ideas about the nature of God and His purpose in our free-will, incorporating the issue of the reality of evil and even the concept of how God relates to time and space, as in this passage: while reductionism must be avoided, a way should be found to address the reality of Gods true personhood: who knows all things and the end from the beginning, yet who experiences reality in sequence as it occurs also in time and space. The book often re-visits the basic premise of the modern churchs embrace of a distorted Calvinistic fatalism (which, the author shows, was a distortion of Calvins teaching in the first place), and perhaps begins to go to that well a bit too often: still, Middleman makes each argument seem dynamic and full of fresh insight each time.

While The Innocence of God is a profound, important book that covers some heady concepts, its written in a style which is non-threatening and enjoyable while respecting the readers intelligence at the same time no fluff here, but no pretentiousness or stuffiness, either. If, like me, youre a person that highlights important ideas as you read a book, take my advice and buy an extra highlighter The Innocence of God is full of powerful ideas and insights that every Christian should take into consideration. Regardless of where you stand now on the subjects in this book, you will not be able to easily ignore what Middelmann has to say as he demonstrates Gods innocence in regard to the effects of the evil and corruption that has marred the history of this fallen planet. If I may paraphrase Shakespeare, The fault, dear Christian, lies not in our God, but in ourselves ...

Bert Saraco

A thought-provoking, witty, and courageous book   Dec 6, 2007
This book dares tackle the difficult question of evil and suffering in this world. It is a courageous book that goes against the stereotypical Christian clichés and platitudes that are often given in response to this question.

Extremely well written and smart, this book is for those trying to make sense of the world we live in.

It is very much worth the read.
Passive Submission or Protest?  Nov 13, 2007
The Innocence of God is a book that is the fruit of a life time of serious thinking about what God is like and what it means to be human. With great care and passion the author refuses to accept as true a picture of God whose primary attribute is an arbitrary sovereignty by which all the events of history and our daily lives no matter how horrendous or evil are attributed to this God for some higher spiritual purpose. If all events are accepted as God's will then there is no basis for protest against the painful reality in which we find ourselves. The result is a passive resignation to the way things are, to life as it happens. But we are not to submit to the normalcy of suffering. God calls us to stand against it.

I'm thankful for the author's courage to tackle this topic in spite of the heated responses it will likely produce. If a person can read the book with an open mind, suspending those "systems" of thought which prevent the possibility of seeing things in a fresh way, a whole reorientation of ones view of life and way of living may spring forth. What a great book to discuss with family and friends. The author has an unusual gift for taking what is often turned into an abstract theological discussion and rooting the discussion in the concrete reality of life. Take the time to read this book. It will be well worth the effort.
Faith With a Human Face  Nov 7, 2007
The "Innocence of God" is a relief to read, at least for those who have lived in the evangelical and/or Calvinist subculture. Could it be that God is not an angry monster? The author writes with wit, clarity and compassion. Those about to abandon faith should read this book first. It will be a refreshing experience. Here is a chance to meet a loving and sorrowing God, one who cares, one who lifts up.

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