Posts Tagged ‘Gerald Sittser’

Tim Keller’s well-deserved five-star review

January 16, 2014

keller_bookAs you probably know, I’ve spent a lot of time on this blog reflecting on Timothy Keller’s profoundly good book Walking with God Through Pain and Suffering. I’m gratified that this month’s Christianity Today agrees with my assessment, awarding the book five out of five stars. The reviewer, theologian Gerald Sittser, summarizes the book’s most important themes with the following:

It is only in the past 200 years, Keller argues, that Westerners have used evil and suffering as an argument against the existence (or goodness) of God. He is especially critical of the modern and secular view of suffering, which places all confidence in human reason and assumes that God, if he exists at all, exists solely to make us happy. This view helps explain why so many people avoid suffering at all costs, do their best to manage and minimize it once it interrupts their lives, and often yield to utter hopelessness when it persists. In the end, a secular view leaves us empty and alone, stripped of answers, devoid of all comfort and confidence.

The Christian answer to suffering, on the other hand, is more consistent, complete, and humane than any of the alternatives. It is attentive to human emotions. It views God as both sovereign and suffering. It alone satisfies the human longing for meaning and significance. And it is by far the most hopeful. Keller sums up the Christian perspective with the metaphor of a furnace. The flames of suffering consume our sinful inclinations, and yes, this is painful. But this purification process makes us holy, provided we turn to the God who reveals himself as both transcendent and present, Victor and Victim, Lord and Servant.