I received a copy of If God, Why Evil by Norman Geisler from Bethany House Publishers to read and review. The copy was given to me free of charge for the review, but the review is my own. The opinions contained are my own (as you will be able to tell).
When I found out I was receiving this book I was very excited. I had read some of Geisler’s books in the past (Unshakeable Foundations, When Critics Ask) and parts of other works of his (The Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics) and thought very highly of those works. While this was easily the shortest of his books I’ve ever read (122 pages not including the Appendices) I was still looking forward to his clear logic and easy writing style.
His writing style is still as good as ever. His positions are easy to follow and the conclusions he comes to are easy to understand. At the page count it is easy to get through the book with only a couple days of ready (maybe a bit more if you really study out his positions). Some of his positions are, however, less scriptural, and less logically built then I recall from his previous works. Perhaps I am a bit more grounded in my scripture and clearer in my logic (it has been nearly 10 years since I read a complete work of his, Unshakeable Foundations). This is not to say that there aren’t good points in here, there clearly are. I found the first few chapters very well thought out with well defended positions, but the deeper he goes the more he seems go off the rails.
For example (and this is not the first example I could state, or even the most egregious) he speaks of Heaven as being the end goal of all people. That God created us to eventually get to Heaven. He speaks of our time on Earth as merely a place to prove ourselves worthy to live in Heaven. If you really study out scripture you’ll find that our eventual home is Earth, not this Earth perhaps, but a regenerated Earth (read the last couple chapters of Revelation, you’ll find that we will live on a restored Earth). The whole of the plan of salvation is essentially a plan to get us back to where God put us in the first place. This misunderstanding colors his conclusions in ways that are not always subtle. But if your understanding of the big picture is flawed it’s hard to get the details right.
Again, this isn’t to say the book is entirely flawed; there are some really good points. And I believe the adage that when you’re reading things of this nature you must eat the meat and spit out the bones (or eat the watermelon and spit out the seeds for my vegetarian friends). It just seems that there are a lot more bones than meat in this book.