After working my way through The Beauty of the Infinite by David Bentley Hart and being incredibly impressed, I sought out more of his books. He wrote a short book , The Doors of the Sea: Where Was God in the Tsunami, on the problem of evil and suffering in light of the 2004 tsunami in Asia that killed thousands. Hart seeks to defend Christianity from its secular critics, but along the way he also argues against a divine determinism that makes God the author of suffering. He brings in a lot of Dostoyevsky, which I love! He argues that God is all good and thus never wills evil. Evil is abhorent and horrific. God allows it to happen, though one day God will no longer allow it.
Here is where my one question lies, and where I think the secular critic could make a good point. Against Christians who imply (or outright say) that God does more than permit it, Hart successfully shows that God never causes evil, God merely allows it. In the face of all the evil and suffering though, why is God so slow in bringing it to an end. Is the argument, “one day, some day, God will no longer permit suffering” not somewhat questionable in the face of suffering now? God could end it now, why wait? I am sure Hart has an answer, and I would be curious to hear it.
A while back I got into reading a bunch of books about world Christianity and global missions. One of the best authors in this regard is Lamin Sanneh. For those who like biographies, Sanneh has published his memoir: Summoned from the Margins: Homecoming of an African. In it we hear the story of Sanneh’s early life in Gambia and his eventual move from Islam to Christianity despite reluctance to accept him from all the churches he met. As he documents his later times in the academy, gaining degrees and publishing books, we read a lot of the conclusions from his studies. One of his main points is that Christianity is unique in translating the message into the language of the people. So this book is a memoir, but not just a memoir. For those who enjoy reading the lives of interesting people and for those who want to learn about religion from someone who not just practices Christianity but has a deep respect for Islam, this would be a book worthy to pick up.