Thinking Out Loud

October 9, 2019

Review: Worldviews and the Problem of Evil

Every so often, one needs to challenge themselves by reading something that is one level above what they might normally peruse.

I’m not entirely sure how a copy of the just-released Worldviews and The Problem of Evil: A Comparative Approach ended up in my mailbox. Lexham Press — home to bestselling apologist Dr. Michael Heiser — doesn’t normally send me review copies, and so I figured this one had arrived unsolicited and tossed it on the ‘unread’ stack.

Neither was I familiar with the author. Dr. Ronnie P. Campbell has lectured as Assistant Professor of theology at Liberty University’s Rawlings School of Divinity. His bio states that his “research interests include God’s relationship to time, the problem of evil, the doctrine of the Trinity, and religious doubt.” He’s also one of the contributors to the recently-released Zondervan Counterpoints title, Do Christians, Muslims, and Jews Worship the Same God? Four Views.

I placed the book off to the side for a few weeks, and then intentionally returned to it this week to give it a brief mention — they had mailed it after all — as an academic title that was ‘beyond my pay grade,’ a phrase I am given to using rather frequently.

But surely, even though my criteria is to not offer something as a formal review unless I’ve devoured every single word. While that’s not the case here, an attempt to give a cursory overview of the table of contents drew me in, and before long, I had covered well over half of the book’s 298 pages. (Not 352, as one popular Christian book retailer states.)

Campbell begins by presenting four dominant worldviews:

  • Naturalism
  • Pantheism
  • Panentheism
  • Theism

and I must confess the third of these was new to me; which sent me running a rabbit trail back to Kirk Macgregor’s Evangelical Theology, in order to brush up on process theology. But I digress.

With each worldview, Campbell looks at how it deals with life, consciousness, good and evil, and human responsibility.

He then settles in for a longer treatment of theism, exploring the implications of a God who loves beyond himself (though a trinitarian view allows for an internal love), a God who takes action, and a God who defeats evil, now and in the future.

The thing above about it being an ‘academic title?’ Instead, I found this accessible, and even delved into many of the exhaustive footnotes.

The publisher’s back cover blurb states the book’s approach integrates apologetics and theology, but I would argue that the book is also very much a work of philosophy, or if you prefer, Christian philosophy. I personally found some exposure to symbolic logic was additionally helpful…

Too much time had passed between receiving this book and not mentioning to my readers, so I decided to make amends today with the goal of continuing to read later today and tomorrow. While theologians may never cease considering the problem of evil, Campbell makes his point well that the Christian worldview is best suited to understanding pain, suffering and evil in our world.

A glossary of key terms — also highlighted in bold throughout the book — and extensive bibliography completes the book.

9781683593058 | Paperback | $22.95 U.S. | In Canada: Parasource

Title webpage at Lexham Press

July 6, 2012

God’s Will But Not God’s Desire

Several days ago at Christianity 201, I shared an audio clip of someone reading  C.S. Lewis on the subject of free will. Lewis talks about that are freedom actually is God’s will, but within that freedom we can choose wrongly, or choose the thing that God would not necessarily desire.

Rob Bell approached this subject in a chapter titled, ‘Does God Get What God Wants?’ in his controversial 2011 book, Love Wins:

In the Bible, God is not helpless, God is not powerless,

and God is not impotent. Paul writes to the Philippians that “it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.”

Once again, God has a purpose. A desire. A goal. And God never stops pursuing it…

…God in the end doesn’t get what God wants, it’s declared, because some will turn, repent, and believe, and others won’t. To explain this perspective, it’s rightly point out that love, by it’s very nature, is freedom. For there to be love there has to be the option, both now and then, to not love. To turn the other way. To reject the love extended. To say no. This perspective allows that while God is powerful and mighty, when it comes to the human heart God has to play by the same rules we do. God has to respect our freedom to choose to the very end, even at the risk of relationship itself. If at any point God overrides or co-opts or hijacks the human heart, robbing it, and us, of our freedom to choose, then God has violated the fundamental essence of what love even is.

So here, with all its British flavor, is the 3-minute C. S. Lewis reading.  As I stated to C201 readers, this was posted on YouTube on the ‘Islamic Worldview’ channel. I’ll leave it for you to ponder that one.  (For those of you reading on mobile devices or dial-up or limited data plans, this takes mere seconds to upload.)

I’ve watched this several times now, and would love to memorize this so that I could present it others.

The version of this at C201 also contains a full video clip from Ravi Zacharias.

December 12, 2009

Always Be Ready To Give An Answer…

Filed under: apologetics, evangelism — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 4:20 pm

Okay guys, I know you read this week’s link list, but the stats say you didn’t do a lot of clicking.   I’m thinking of this one in particular:

Kevin Rogers at the blog, The Orphan Age, introduces his son Levi (15) who shares a dialog that took place in a Grade Nine class discussion.

So, that being the case, and because you gotta read it, I’m gonna copy it here:

Apologetics — the art/science of presenting reasonable defenses for the Christian faith.

When my son Levi accepted Jesus at the age of 4 or 5, he ran out onto our front porch and yelled to his friends playing in the street, “Hey guys, I am a Christian!!!

He’s now 14 and in Grade 9.  Yesterday he was in one of his classes when a discussion broke out about God.

Many opinions flew around the room.

One of the girls stated, “If there is a God, why would he make us as imperfect creations?  Why would a good God allow us to do bad things?  That would be an evil God.

Without forethought, Levi’s hand shot up.  He wasn’t sure what he would say but felt the need to say something.  He paused and then addressed the teacher.

‘Miss, is there such a thing as darkness?’

‘What do you mean Levi?’

‘If I turn off the light switch, what happens?’

‘It gets dark.’

‘So Miss, is there such a thing as darkness?’

‘Why, yes there is.’

Levi responded, ‘There is no such thing as darkness.  It is just an absence of light.  And Miss, is there such a thing as cold?’

‘Yes, there is such a thing as cold.’

‘Actually, cold is just the absence of heat.  The problem of evil and darkness in the world is just an absence of God’s love.’

The class sat stunned in silence for a moment.  Levi experienced what the Scriptures describe as the Holy Spirit giving you the words to say.  The logic and insight amazed his fellow students and the Muslim teacher who commended him for these thoughts.

I am amazed by God’s work through my kids.

~Kevin Rogers

Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect…
I Peter 3:15 (NIV)

…And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it…
I Peter 3:15 (NLT)

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