Tsunamis, earthquakes, famines, diseases, wars &mdash these and other devastating forces lead Christians to ask painful questions. Is God all-powerful? Is God good? How can God allow so much innocent human suffering?
These questions, taken together, have been called the "theodicy problem," and in this book Thomas Long explores what preachers can and should say in response. Long reviews the origins and history of the theodicy problem and engages the work of major thinkers who have posed solutions to it. Cautioning pastors not to ignore urgent theodicy-related questions arising from their parishioners, he offers biblically based approaches to preaching on theodicy, guided by Jesus' parable of the wheat and the tares and the "greatest theodicy text in Scripture" -- the book of Job.
Thomas G. Long is Bandy Professor of Preaching and coordinator of the Initiative in Religious Practices and Practical Theology at Candler School of Theology, Emory University. His other books include The Witness of Preaching and Accompany Them with Singing — The Christian Funeral.
Richard Lischer —Duke Divinity School "Among preachers, Tom Long is perhaps the most broadly read and deeply incisive of them all. . . . Long doesn’t offer easy answers, but he does open a wonderful conversation."
Lillian Daniel —First Congregational Church, Glen Ellyn, Illinois "Tom Long has done it again, tackling a tough subject with wit, intelligence, and integrity. Moving beyond the ministry of presence, Long challenges clergy to stop dodging the bullet and to answer the hard questions laypeople ask. More importantly, he also gives us the tools to do it well."
Religious Studies Review “A valuable book for preachers and others struggling with the relationship between God and suffering."
The Christian Century "Moving and inspiring. . . . Too often preachers avoid these kinds of questions, offering pat answers or no answer at all. Long offers not only expert guidance but a push toward finding an answer that is theologically grounded and makes sense of the reality of suffering and evil in this world."
Mission Today “In many ways, this is a consoling book. Although written from a homilist’s perspective, it is saturated with wholesome Christian theology. . . .This book is good Christian theodicy. It is worth reading Long’s book for its sympathetic Christian perspective on the problem of evil and suffering.”
Conrad Grebel Review “The author has provided preachers with a helpful resource on dealing with the problem of evil and suffering in a congregational context. Pastors can move beyond providing a ‘ministry of presence’ to facing the challenging questions and helping people hold onto faith in the midst of suffering. . . .[Long] will assist preachers in proclaiming hope in the midst of sometimes overwhelming evil and suffering.”
Religious Herald “Few questions plague us more than this: why is there suffering, in a world ruled by a kind of generous God? Long thoughtfully approaches the question from a unique perspective, wondering what exactly preachers should say about these unsettling realities. Narrating Job, a familiar text for these questions, Long offers personal and pastoral wisdom.”
John T. Pless — Concordia Pulpit Resources "Long has written a book that deserves attention. He draws preachers to proclaim the power of God made known in Christ, crucified and risen. . . . Long is a craftsman with his prose, and in general his theological reflections are carefully thought and yield sound applications for preaching. I certainly intend to use this as a text in my course on 'Pastoral Theology and Suffering.'"
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