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Sigve K. Tonstad's God of Sense presents the Holocaust, not as a problem that defeats belief, but as the reality that demands a religious and theological account of evil and human existence.

January 24, 2017

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Welcome to Additional Resources--

Books

There is a growing worldwide interest in the interrelated themes of cosmic conflict, pain and suffering, the true nature of God's character, the ultimate eradication of evil and God's way of setting things right. On this page we intend to bring together a growing list of those books, authors, presentations and websites that sometimes speak in a way similar to Dr. Tonstad. Please do not assume that Dr. Tonstad necessarily agrees with every position or viewpoint taken, but the resource shown does address some of these issues in a way you may find helpful in thinking through these important matters. If you have suggestions for resources that should be here please let us know by using the Feedback page.

 

N. T. Wright in Evil and the Justice of God

"But my point is that from 1755 on, as Susan Neiman has shown recently in her brilliant book Evil in Modern Thought, the history of modern European philosophy can best be told as the history of people trying to come to terms with evil." Page 20

 

Susan Neiman in Evil in Modern Thought

"The problem of evil can be explained in theological or secular terms, but it is fundamentally a problem about the intelligibility of the world as a whole." Page 7

"In the child's refusal to accept a world that makes no sense lies all the hope that ever makes us start anew." Page 320

Gregory A. Boyd in Repenting of Religion

"The serpent planted a seed of mistrust in the mind of the innocent woman. He accused God of being untrustworthy. Indeed, the serpent gave Adam and Eve a picture of a god who didn't have Adam and Eve's best interest in mind. It was a picture of a god who, far from being capable of providing Adam and Eve with all they need, was himself needy.*** When our picture of God is distorted, we can no longer trust God to be the source of our life. It is impossible to live in God's love if we don't believe that God is love."

 

John Eldredge in Epic

"I am staggered by the level of naivete' that most people live with regarding evil. They don't take it seriously. They don't live as though the Story has a Villain. Not the devil prancing about in red tights, carrying a pitchfork, but the incarnation of the very worst of every enemy you've met in every other story. Dear God--the Holocaust, child prostitution, terrorist bombings, genocidal governments. What is it going to take for us to take evil seriously?

Life is very confusing if you do not take into account that there is a Villain. That you, my friend, have an Enemy."

Rob Bell in Love Wins

"Does God become somebody totally different the moment you die? That kind of God is simply devastating. Psychologically crushing. We can't bear it. No one can. And that is the secret deep in the heart of many people, especially Christians: they don't love God. They can't, because the God they've been presented with and taught about can't be loved. That God is terrifying and traumatizing and unbearable."

Timothy R. Jennings in The God-Shaped Brain

"Many of us have been lied to about God. When we believe those lies, the circle of love and trust becomes broken in our hearts, and fear and selfishness quickly take hold. The more deeply rooted the lies, the greater the fear. But the story doesn't have to end there. The way to restored love is always through the path of rediscovered truth."

John C. Lennox in Seven Days That Divide the World

"What was this serpent whose insinuations triggered such a seismic catastrophe, from which the world has been reeling ever since? It appears unannounced on the page in Genesis, simply described as one of the creatures that God had made. But that is already telling us something--and simultaneously raising many questions. For this serpent is a creature; so God is ultimately responsible for its existence. Yet is is clearly opposed to God. In other words, Genesis is saying that there was already an alien in the earth, a being that, apparently, had the capacity to disobey God, had done so, and was now encouraging the first humans to follow suit."

Philip Yancey in The Jesus I Never Knew

"From Satan's perspective, the Temptation offered a new lease on life. The kids from Lord of the Flies could roam the island awhile longer, apparently free of adult authority. Furthermore, God could be blamed for what went wrong. If God insisted on sitting on his hands while devilment like the Crusades and the Holocaust went on, why not blame the Parent, not the kids? It occurs to me that by turning down the temptations in the desert, Jesus put God's own reputation at risk. God has promised to restore earth to perfection one day, but what about the meantime? The swamp of human history, the brutality even of church history, the apocalypse to come--are all these worth the divine restraint? To put it bluntly, is human freedom worth the cost?"

William P. Young in The Shack

"'But if you are God, aren't you the one spilling out great bowls of wrath and throwing people into a burning lake of fire?' Mack could feel his deep anger emerging again, pushing out the questions in front of it, and he was a little chagrined at his own lack of self-control. But he asked anyway, 'Honestly, don't you enjoy punishing those who disappoint you?' At that, Papa stopped her preparations and turned toward Mack. He could see a deep sadness in her eyes. 'I am not what you think I am, Mackenzie. I don't need to punish people for sin. Sin is its own punishment, devouring you from the inside. It's not my purpose to punish it; it's my joy to cure it.'" 

Graham Maxwell in Can God Be Trusted?

"The great controversy is not over who can perform the greatest miracles but over who is telling the truth. As the former Lucifer, Satan has seen the awesome power and majesty of God. And whenever he thinks of the One who hung the whole vast universe in space, he trembles in fear (James 2:19) and 'knows that his time is short' (Revelation 12:12). God has not been charged with lack of power but with its abuse. The controversy is over the character of God."  

Sigve K. Tonstad in Saving God's Reputation

"Within the logic of freedom, working itself out in the transparency of an open system, 'the ancient serpent' inexorably reveals his true character, and the process happens precisely by the quality in God that the adversary has denied. Indeed, it is not the absence of freedom that troubles the heavenly council. Beneath the ringing affirmations of confidence in the rule of the One who sits on the throne, it is an excess of freedom and the absence of the expected exercise of sovereign power (6.9-10) to the point that the divine commitment to freedom vastly surpasses what intelligent creatures were prepared to defend and explain (5.3)."

C. S. Lewis in Mere Christianity

"One of the things that surprised me when I first read the New Testament seriously was that it talked so much about a Dark Power in the universe--a mighty evil spirit who was held to be the Power behind death and disease, and sin. The difference is that Christianity thinks this Dark Power was created by God, and was good when he was created, and went wrong. Christianity agrees with Dualism that this universe is at war. But it does not think this is a war between independent powers. It thinks it is a civil war, a rebellion, and that we are living in a part of the universe occupied by the rebel."

John C. Brunt in Romans

"God's wrath in Romans is the giving over of the wicked to their evil (see especially 1:18, 24, 26, 28). God simply turns His creatures over to the consequences of their sin. God's wrath is His permissiveness. In His love and respect for human beings, He gives them freedom to do evil and leaves them to the consequences of their evil.***This produces an irony. The result of God's wrath against evil is more evil! For when God turns away and leaves humans to their evil, that evil multiplies."

Graham Maxwell in Servants or Friends?

"Sadly a conflict of distrust arose, even to the point of open rebellion and war. Disunity and disharmony took the place of unity and at-one-ment. That's how sin entered the universe. As John explains, sin is lawlessness and rebellion. Or, as Paul describes, sin is a breakdown of faith and trust. The purpose of the plan of salvation is to restore that trust, to bring the rebellion to an end, and thus to establish at-one-ment once again in the whole universe. All of God's children are unavoidably involved. Some seem to find it disappointing, even offensive, to learn that Christ did not die primarily for them. But unless God wins this war and reestablishes peace in his family, our salvation is meaningless. Who would want to live for eternity in a warring universe?"

Derek Flood in Healing the Gospel

"The cross is what we see now, but we know it is not the end. As we look on the horror and ugliness of the crucifixion we see there the God who is near, the God who suffers. Jesus reveals to us who God has always been. In Jesus we see that God has always suffered with those who suffer, God has always intimately known our condition, God has always been close to the broken-hearted."

Dietrich Bonhoeffer in Letters and Papers from Prison

18 July, 1944

"I wonder if any letters have been lost in the raids on Munich. Did you get the one with the two poems? It was just sent off that evening, and it also contained a few introductory remarks on our theological theme. The poem about Christians and pagans contains an idea that you will recognize: 'Christians stand by God in his hour of grieving'; that is what distinguishes Christians from pagans. Jesus asked in Gethsemane, 'Could you not watch with me one hour?' That is a reversal of what the religious man expects from God. Man is summoned to share in God's sufferings at the hands of a godless world."

Erich Fromm in The Heart of Man

"Force is, to quote Simone Weil's definition, the capacity to transform a man into a corpse....All force is, in the last analysis, based on the power to kill. I may not kill a person but only deprive him of freedom; I may want only to humiliate him or to take away his possessions--but whatever I do, behind all these actions stands my capacity to kill and my willingness to kill. The lover of death necessarily loves force. For him the greatest achievement of man is not to give life, but to destroy it; the use of force is not a transitory action forced on him by circumstances--it is a way of life."

Alden Thompson in Servant God

"But the goodness and greatness of the God he [Abraham] served--the same one we serve--is powerfully illustrated by the fact that on Mt. Moriah, as on Golgotha, it was God himself who actually provided the sacrifice. At Golgotha, of course, God took the next momentous step, the glorious and ultimate step of actually becoming the sacrifice. In Jesus Christ, God took human flesh in order to destroy once and for all that monumental lie that we must earn God's favor through our gifts. Golgotha was still future. But at Moriah, God led Abraham through that crucial first step to the all-important conviction that whatever had to be done was done by God, provided by God. All Abraham had to do was accept. He did. And so can we." 

Brennan Manning in Above All

"Christian history offers ample testimony that we have contrived a god who resembles ourselves, a mirror image of appetite, fanaticism, financial profit, political muscle, bloodline, nationality, or whatever our passing fancy, and we have worshiped this god of human manufacturing, a god who does not exist. Likewise the god whose  moods alternate between graciousness and fierce anger, the god who is tender when we are good and relentlessly punishing when we are bad, the god who exacts the last drop of blood from his Son so that his just anger, evoked by sin, may be appeased, is not the God revealed by and in Jesus Christ. And if he is not the God of Jesus, he does not exist."

Edward W. H. Vick in Let Me Assure You

"Satan lives only by God's permission. God allows Satan to work out the principles of his kingdom. He is giving him continued existence in order that sin can work itself out and demonstrate its destructive nature. That is why God does not terminate suffering when it comes. God's purpose must also work itself out, and this takes a long time. God is deliberately permitting the devil to exist for this purpose."

Bruce Larson in No Longer Strangers

"By nature and also by conditioning, man's impulse is always to defend himself. Self-defense can take the form of belligerence, silence, ridicule, criticism, or proving that one is right. It all adds up to the same thing: invulnerability. Every natural force in man says, 'Protect yourself. Don't let people get close to you. Don't let them know your weakness. Don't let them see where you are wrong.' Contrast this picture of natural man with the picture God shows us of Himself on the cross, when He made Himself naked and vulnerable in Jesus Christ."

Joost A.M. Meerloo in The Rape of the Mind

"Freedom and respect for the individual are rooted in the Old Testament, which convinced man that he makes his own history, that he is responsible for his history. Such freedom implies that a man throws off his inertia, that he does not cling arbitrarily to tradition, that he strives for knowledge and accepts moral responsibility. The fear of freedom is the fear of assuming responsibility."

Rob Bell in What We Talk About When We Talk About God

"How did the message about the Jesus who comes among us to heal us and free us and bless us and teach us how to be more generous and forgiving and less judgmental and more compassionate ever turn into something other than a clear and compelling message about God's desire for us to flourish in God's good world? It's complete madness how the Jesus story has been so thoroughly warped and distorted in our world."