There are a number of things about our world, and about the christian faith, that seem hard to explain if God is loving – for example, the pain and suffering people experience, hell, the commands in the Old Testament to kill and even wipe out whole tribes and God’s disapproval of homosexuality.
What should christians say about these things?
I don’t believe in labelling myself, apart from being a follower of Jesus – Paul points out the dangers of this in 1 Corinthians 1-3. But it remains true that my formative years as a christian were within a moderate, moderately reformed, evangelical church. And I am very thankful for that time.
But evangelicalism is under attack, not just from without, but also from within, as evangelical believers increasingly question its underpinnings. This well-written, absorbing and thought-provoking book (A Restless Faith: Leaving fundamentalism in a quest for God, by Keith Mascord) is another milestone along that path.
If you’ve spent any time on the internet this year, you probably know that Rob Bell is a much-loved and much vilified US pastor whose latest book Love Wins has caused a great deal of comment and even anger. The cause of the anger is many commentators’ fears that Bell has subtly espoused a doctrine they regard as heretical.
Is the fuss warranted?