Sunday, July 8, 2018

When God's Ways Make No Sense by Dr Larry Crabb

Crabb is in his seventies. He writes from a place of unhealed cancer, advancing age, and soul weariness. He shares his personal thoughts and conclusions as he looks back over his life and the lives of others he knows. There have been so many times when God's way of running the world made no sense to him. He uses biblical examples to show our possible responses at such times. We can run away like Jonah. We can bend Scripture to our liking, like Saul. We can admit that God's ways are incomprehensible to us and tremble and trust, like Habakkuk.

Crabb writes as if he is thinking through his own questions about God and His work. There are many aspects of this book I did not like. He calls himself a “revised deist” or a Christian deist. (1277/2921) God can seem uninvolved, Crabb says, but believes He is always near. (1331/2921) Crabb writes that God will be revealed to our senses as a hands-off God in a way that might frustrate and anger us. (1231/2921) Crabb believes God is in control, that is, God is in control of what He chooses to control. God is in control of “some things” and Crabb is still asking questions about what that means. (1382/2921) He finds it difficult to declare God is in control of all that happens. (1391/2921)

I did like Crabb's emphasis on God's formational work in us. Distress and suffering give us a unique opportunity to think like God. (767/2921) Crabb says that everything God does or does not do is an expression of His unfailing love for us. (577/2921) I like that Crabb challenges readers to think about what we are trusting God for. Are we expecting God to do what we think a loving God should do? (993/2921) We might think God has promised us a certain kind of life that is comfortable and suffering free.

Crabb writes of a “settled growing trust” that has come through his many seasons of life. (963/2921) He tells his life story so we can understand how he has come to be where he is. He has found that God's understanding of what it means to love us is radically different than what we think in our fallen state. (1859/2921) What we think might satisfy us in this life never will. We have desires only heaven can satisfy. (1953/2921)

Crabb is a psychologist. I felt like this book was a psychological adventure in trying to understand why God makes no sense to us so often. It seemed like much of the book contained Crabb's working through his own understanding, almost like a work of catharsis. Crabb tries to answer the age old problem: if God is all good and all powerful then why am I suffering? Most of his writing deals with experiences rather than what Scripture says. I was disappointed that Crabb develops his theodicy mostly from experience rather than God's Word. He admits he is in a “spiritually sterile” or “dry” time as he writes. (2197/2921) Perhaps not the best time to write a book like this.

I think there are many better books on the subject. If you are looking for an author struggling to psychologically understand God's ways through his own experiences and questions, you may like this book. I found it very repetitive and too introspective.

My rating: 3/5 stars.

Larry Crabb is a psychologist, conference and seminar speaker, Bible teacher, author and founder/director of NewWay Ministries. He is currently scholar in residence at Colorado Christian University in Denver, and visiting professor of spiritual formation for Richmont Graduate University in Atlanta. He and his wife live in Charlotte, North Carolina. They have two sons and five grandchildren. You can find out more at http://www.newwayministries.org/.

Baker Books, 241 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.
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