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Why? Looking at God, evil & personal suffering

winter 2013

From triple helix - winter 2013 - Why? Looking at God, evil & personal suffering [p20]

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Sharon Dirckx
IVP, 2013 £8.99
Pb 176pp, ISBN 9781844746194
Reviewed by Laurence Crutchlow, a London GP and CMF Associate Head of Student Ministries

It is all too easy to reduce suffering to an intellectual question, forgetting that the questioner is very often dealing with a deep personal hurt that is behind what they ask. An inspiring story about a baby with holoprosencephaly is the first of five personal stories that ensure this book is much more than an intellectual response to questions about suffering. A logical and clear approach looks at both questions of individual suffering, particularly around illness, and wider questions such as natural disasters. Dirckx's scientific background comes across clearly, as does her experience of caring for her husband during illness.

I particularly liked the focus on our personal role ('Am I responsible for anyone else's suffering?' is one chapter heading), and the constant pointers back to Jesus' work on the cross ('Can a broken story be fixed?'). Although accessible for non-Christians, I think this book will be of most help to Christians who struggle with their own questions about suffering.

Quotations draw heavily on others associated with the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics where Dirckx is based, which may seem a little narrow to some. There is also a chapter looking at whether religion itself causes suffering, which addresses this common question of today. It is for its contemporary relevance and clear thought that I would primarily recommend this book; it may not replace The Problem of Pain on most bookshelves, but complements CS Lewis and others with its insight into questions being asked by many.

Article written by Laurence Crutchlow

More from triple helix: winter 2013

  • Situation Ethics
  • Putting targets before patients
  • Countering the threat of euthanasia
  • What we can learn from the BHA
  • Universal Health Coverage
  • Caring for ourselves
  • How persuasion works
  • So you've received a complaint
  • Making medical mistakes
  • A chilling story seldom told
  • Being a burden
  • Hope in dark times
  • Faith matters in the global health agenda
  • ICMDA a worldwide family
  • CS Lewis: A Life
  • What happens after I die
  • Making Church Accessible to All Including disabled people in church life
  • Why? Looking at God, evil & personal suffering
  • Rescuing Darwin God and evolution in Britain today
  • The Big Ego Trip Finding true significance in a culture of self-esteem
  • Christians in the Firing Line
  • Spiritual Care of Dying and Bereaved People
  • Eutychus
  • When our hands are willing
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