About This Blog

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Book Review: "Why?" (Adam Hamilton)

TITLE: WHY? making sense of God's will
AUTHOR: Adam Hamilton
PUBLISHER, Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 2011.

This book talks about the four of the most mind-boggling questions many Christians face. Questions such as:
  1. Why do innocents suffer?
  2. Why do my prayers go unanswered?
  3. Why can't I see God's will for my life?
  4. Why God's love prevails?
Without much of an introduction, the author dives straight into the questions, probing common struggles with faith, suffering, pain, and God's will. He brings along insights to the age old questions. Insights like distinguishing Jesus' teachings between an exaggerated use of story (hyperbole) and a hyper-literal interpretation. He lists out some of the erroneous views of God's will and suffering held by many believers. For instance, he points out the assumptions which often lead people into all kinds of wrong expectations. Things like:
  • nothing bad will happen to good people as long as they do good;
  • All things happen because of God's will.
The first creates confusion when bad things happen to good people. The second is problematic because it puts God as a direct cause of all things good and evil. In this manner, Hamilton walks the reader through various difficulties, lists them, reasons with them, and subsequently proposes his interpretation of it all. The end result is a very enlightening treatise and easy to understand explanation of the four major impediments to growing faith. 

Book Saint Comments
I find this book very thoughtfully written for 3 reasons. First, Hamilton understands the struggles. He uses rich examples to demonstrate the way people have largely misunderstood God, suffering and his will. Second, he lists out erroneous assumptions as well as suggest possible ways to think and rationalize. In this way, I appreciate his gentleness and patience to help the reader understand the need to re-assess his/her initial assumptions. Finally, without coercing the reader to give up set ideas, the author gently invites the reader to consider adapting the question or assumption. 

While I agree with most of it, some of Hamilton's ideas appear rather weak on theological grounds. For example, he fails to use Scriptures to support his idea of God forcing evil and suffering to serve both God and men (p85). Moreover, his theology about 'cosmic act of violence we call the Big Bang" can become confusing, even controversial for both evolutionists as well as creationists. What does Hamilton mean by 'rhythm of the universe?' (86)

This book contains many good thoughts. It helps us take note of erroneous assumptions and encourages us to replace them with better ones. It is one of the best books to address questions on suffering, unanswered prayers, God's will, and God's love. My favourite chapter is the one on unanswered prayer, in which Hamilton gives lots of good ideas about prayer. For a relatively small book, it packs a wallop.

Ratings: 3.5 stars of 5.


I receive this book in advance, courtesy of Abingdon Press, and am under no obligation to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are freely mine.

No comments:

Post a Comment