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The Innocence of God
Author: Udo Middelmann
Publisher: Paternoster Publishing - an imprint of Authentic Publishing
If youve ever winced when, in the face of someones personal pain and chaos, some well-meaning Christian says, dont worry Gods got it all in control, then The Innocence of God is the book youve been waiting for. If youve ever looked away in shame when a fellow-believer explains away premature death or terminal illness to a grieving parent as all part of Gods will, then this is the book that will help you to understand why your spirit stings at those words. If youve hoped for a book to help you to articulate the answers that you know inside are true when Gods character is smeared by these reasonable accusations of the unbeliever - If God is good, then why does He allow the horrors of war and disease to ravage His creation? If He is really in control, then isnt He responsible for pain, suffering, and, yes, even unbelief? If these things are happening against His will then why isnt He powerful enough to stop them? then this is the book that you must read.
In The Innocence of God, Udo Middelmann takes on the formidable task of attacking the big issue of Gods character and power in light of a world that certainly seems to contradict the notion that the hand of a loving Father is truly in charge and micro-managing human affairs. With pin-point accuracy, Middleman focuses in on all of the modern pop Christian concepts about Gods involvement in the big issues of history and the intimate issues of our lives and exposes them to the light of Biblical truth and solid Christian reason. The author sets up his task by quoting Bertrand Russells famous statement from 1967s Why I Am Not A Christian: when we face real life we must conclude that there is no God, or that God is evil, or that God is too weak to do anything about cruelty, death, and pain. Rather than rant against this philosophy, Middelmann dissects the nature of Gods creation, how it works, why it is the way it is, and what God is, in fact, doing about it. In this view we see a God who is well aware of the fallen state of the world and has actively been in motion to set it right, but always through means that have been given over into the hands of His created beings. Gods good name has been slandered, according to Middleman, and often by Christians seeking the false comfort of a life where Gods will is accomplished even in spite of our actions or inactivity. Starting with our sentimental view of the peaceful, orderly quality of nature (and questioning the wisdom of all of the sweet nature-imagery we put under Bible verses on our calendars and postcards), Middelmann proceeds to trace the evolution of Christian thought to certain critical points where our understanding was corrupted by the practices and views of, for instance, the Greeks, who saw the role of the gods as puppeteers and controllers of various phases of life. Its the pagan religion, Middleman shows, that believes in a god that simply controls all aspects of life and destiny. The wonderful truth is that the Judeo-Christian view is the only one that encourages true, critical thinking and decision-making, which enables relationship and the exercise of free-will.
Yes, the author knocks the props out from under many a comforting set of faulty beliefs that take the responsibility for handling things on this fallen planet out of our hands and puts the onus totally on God. The Innocence of God makes it clear, through looking logically at scripture, that God has indeed provided a personal solution through the substitutionary death of His Son, but that there is a fallen world that we are to deal with as history unfolds in real time. God provides the strength and the spirit, but we must decide to move in accordance to His plan at the end of the day, its all about making decisions and acting upon them in the stream of time and space. The author never sells God short, but delineates His working in the individual hearts of men and women to affect the real-time situations on this planet. Middleman frequently introduces intriguing ideas about the nature of God and His purpose in our free-will, incorporating the issue of the reality of evil and even the concept of how God relates to time and space, as in this passage: while reductionism must be avoided, a way should be found to address the reality of Gods true personhood: who knows all things and the end from the beginning, yet who experiences reality in sequence as it occurs also in time and space. The book often re-visits the basic premise of the modern churchs embrace of a distorted Calvinistic fatalism (which, the author shows, was a distortion of Calvins teaching in the first place), and perhaps begins to go to that well a bit too often: still, Middleman makes each argument seem dynamic and full of fresh insight each time.
While The Innocence of God is a profound, important book that covers some heady concepts, its written in a style which is non-threatening and enjoyable while respecting the readers intelligence at the same time no fluff here, but no pretentiousness or stuffiness, either. If, like me, youre a person that highlights important ideas as you read a book, take my advice and buy an extra highlighter The Innocence of God is full of powerful ideas and insights that every Christian should take into consideration. Regardless of where you stand now on the subjects in this book, you will not be able to easily ignore what Middelmann has to say as he demonstrates Gods innocence in regard to the effects of the evil and corruption that has marred the history of this fallen planet. If I may paraphrase Shakespeare, The fault, dear Christian, lies not in our God, but in ourselves ...