Human Anguish and God’s Power

by David H. Kelsey

Reviewed by Daniel Brown

When someone suffers, well-meaning friends may say, “It’s God’s will” or “It will all work out.”Besides being dumb, Kelsey establishes—slowly, thoroughly and at great length—that all such attempts at consolation are clearly not reliant on canonical Scriptures.If God is good and all powerful, how can God allow such incredible suffering?The problem in the question is the use of the word powerful. Power is not a univocal term. Pastoral remarks of consolation that attribute to God conventional notions about power are theologically problematic and simplistic.The first response to the searing pain of suffering should be silence in its presence.The anomie we witness demonstrates that the wounds of humanity are an unanswered question.We can only eventually stammer, not about “Why did God send this” but “What is God’s part in this?”The last two chapters, filled with moving stories, direct us to stammer a good bit more about how God is committed to them and involved in their suffering.

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