Thursday, February 10, 2005

Book Review - Why does being a Christian have to be so hard?

Why does being a Christian have to be so hard?
Peter Golding
Evangelical Press

Don Carson was asked recently, "14 years ago you wrote a book on suffering and pain. Since then you've come through a lot of suffering yourself - would you change anything you wrote?" Carson's answer was most revealing, he said, "No, the whole point of the book was to get certain biblical truths thoroughly in place before you get kicked in the teeth, because if you live long enough you will suffer. If you don't have enough biblical thinking in place before things happen then you will suffer additionally from all the unbiblical fears and anxieties."

Now that's wise!

That's what this book by Peter Golding is like. When someone becomes a Christian very often things go smoothly for a time. But then trials come, and very often, no matter what stage we're at the in the Christian life, we can wonder, "What is happening?", "Has God abandoned me?", "Am I a Christian at all?", "Did I do something wrong?". And if we have not taken God teaching on board beforehand we will struggle.

Peter Golding focuses, in part, on the greatly ignored doctrine of adoption, which has a mine of blessing for struggling saints. He does so by taking us step by step through Hebrews 12:1-13 (also a book we often pass by) and gives wise pastoral council and demonstrates to us from scripture what is happening in trials and testing times.

He cuts through the simple solutions to problems, "Just pray about it", and gives good instruction - "[that] is not the New Testament method of dealing with trial and affliction, which never makes prayer and substitute for thought." And Golding does just that; he helps us to think biblically about these issues.

This is not so much a book on the problem of suffering in general, but pastoral advice to believers on how to prepare and cope when problems come. For that reason it is worth reading.

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