WHY SUFFERING? FINDING MEANING AND COMFORT WHEN LIFE DOESN'T MAKE SENSE
By: Ravi Zacharias and Vince Vitale
Publisher: FaithWords (October, 2014)
ISBN-10: 1455549703 ISBN-13: 978-1455549702
This powerful and deeply worthwhile book is coauthored by the internationally known Christian apologist, speaker and writer Ravi Zacharias and Vince Vitale, Senior Tutor at the Oxford University-based Centre for Christian Apologetics. Drs. Zacharias and Vitale alternate authorship of the chapters throughout the book.
The book begins with a statement of the so-called “trilemma” of apparently conflicting statements:
1. God is all-powerful: He can do anything He pleases.
2. God is all-loving: He cares for His creation.
3. Evil is a reality: Suffering is a real part of our human experience.
Most atheists would suggest that this moral trilemma indicates there is no God, or no loving God – or else He would do something about the evil and suffering. The authors of Why Suffering? show that, logical as the progression of the trilemma might seem, it is essentially flawed. For example, does it really follow that if you love someone you would make their life free from pain? What if pain were the only way the person could learn lessons that would eventually make him or her truly happy – forever? And what if we bring one more assertion into consideration – such as: “God is all-wise,” or “God is eternal … and evil exists only in present time”?
Adding these possibilities changes everything, and Christian belief provides possible answers to the trilemma. In fact, the authors argue, the existence of suffering is more explainable in the Christian worldview than in any other (a chapter by Zacharias specifically compares the answers of Christianity to the answers from Buddhism, Islam, and naturalism), for evil and suffering are admitted and explained in Christianity as part of a larger and supremely meaningful view of existence. This much has been said before in other books on Christian apologetics, but what makes Why Suffering? different is the way in which the question is addressed with a superb balance of studied, logical thought and personal insight. The subtitle of this book speaks of “Meaning” and “Comfort,” and this is a volume that can equally profit not only someone who wishes to intellectually examine the Christian argument for suffering, but also someone who has recently suffered or is presently experiencing the reality of heart-wrenching pain in their own life.
The book is aptly summarized in an editorial review by Oxford author and pastor Simon Ponsonby:
"In Why Suffering?, two of the world's leading Christian Apologists address the world's hardest question. Avoiding the glib or the abstract, they offer us a highly readable, intellectually robust, biblically framed, and truly compelling answer, filled with hope in the God who enters our suffering to end our suffering.”