book report: The Goodness of God by John Wenham

no links, this book is long out of print. It is a 1974 IVP book. The subtitle on the cover of the book says "Is God really good? What about cruelty? and suffering? and deformed babies? and war? and famine? And what about hell?"

This is a book about the problem of evil. Why does the all-powerful, Creator tolerate the privation of his perfect will? No one has all the answers, except God. One helpful answer for me is that many good things wouldn't happen if there weren't awful things to respond to. If there were no housefires, there would be no firemen to bravely rescue people, no doctors to heal people, and no fundraisers to help people. That was an extremely simple example, but its easy to extrapolate. Without sin, which Augustine defines as the privation of good, there would be no demonstration of the depths of God's love by the sacrifice of his Son or the profundity of his justice by the existence of hell. Speaking of hell. Wenham is sympathetic to the Adventist doctrine of conditional immortality. So he sees an out in eternal judgment as not eternally conscious punishment, but eternal in consequence, the extermination of souls. He doesn't declare his full support of it and frankly acknowledges its weaknesses, but later on he appeals to it in reply to an assumed argument.

Despite all this, its a worthshile read and helpful in processing some hard questions.

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