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Bart Ehrman about his book “God’s Problem”

Posted by Andy D. on September 18, 2008

The Problem of Suffering.

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7 Responses to “Bart Ehrman about his book “God’s Problem””

  1. One who sees "Mr. Erhman's problem", not God's. said

    After going through the new book “God’s Problem” by Bart Erhman on Sept 20,2008, I spotted some false assumptions on which he built his arguments upon, and there are 2 useful books to be suggested for Mr. Erhman to read to probably get some insight for himself beyond his sincere but faulty arguments.

    False assumptions: Mr. Erhman said that “If God loves us, He would not let us suffer…..”. This is apparently false, even in our own human sphere of reasoning & experience: a small girl would be allowed by loving parents to start her first day in school by herself, even when it costs her much suffering (i.e. anxiety of separation from familiar people & surroundings & perceived by the girl as “abandonment to suffering”, that is until she sees her mom at the end of the school day, then, she learns that her mom has not stopped loving her at all, despite all the suffering she genuinely went through. And it may take longer time for this girl to grow up to reap the benefit of learning & living independently, to fully realize that her mom not only loves her, but has been loving her all along, even by including much “suffering” in the course of her upbringing.)

    Mr. Erhman desired “with frustration” that Jesus would “all the time” perform his healing & delivering people from pain & suffering just like he had done (in fact only to a degree) when he was living among the people, and that “Jesus would come into the darkness again” with frustration he felt…….
    Jesus has declared clearly that his mission is to deliver people “from their sins”, sinfulness has been the real source of all our raw sufferings. Analogy: to salvage a flooded house, one would go to the source first, e.g. turning off the running faucet, instead of going around endlessly mopping up the water.
    Jesus has come into our real darkness of “sin” (including the whole bundle of our hurtful ways, selfish decisions, guilt….etc.)and gave us the ultimate deliverance, which, however, would take one’s whole-hearted trust in Jesus instead of in one’s self, to combat the sinfulness in one’s heart, & triumph over sin and over suffering (to do good even when one is suffering), and we would be truly able to do what the writer described at the very end of this book “to live well and to help others in the future to live well”, though only to a degree. A reminder: even Jesus was healing & helping a limited number of needy people on earth when he was here. Jesus is solving the problem from the heart out, he has given a choice for “the faucets to be turned off” and the whole clean up job will be completed one day, not right away, but when the time is up. Jesus has clearly promised: after the time allowed for people to choose this deliverance from sinfulness was up, he would have prepared a home for those who have freely chosen him over self & over sin on this earth.

    That leads to Mr. Erhman’s next false assumption: he stated in the book that how would people, who don’t know how to exercise their free will properly here, know how to exercise it there (in Jesus’ heavenly home). The key Mr. Erhman has missed is — Jesus. What has changed when one chose Jesus over one’s sin and self? That person everyday repents of his sin, and surrenders his self to Jesus, and let Jesus live in him, so that he is choosing to let Jesus guide him, instead of stumbling in one’s sin-tainted darkness. Such is the training one gets, to exercise one’s free will, in choosing Jesus over self, and over sin, that one gets to overcome sinfulness, both here and there.

    Mr. Erhman stated that the old & new testaments of the bible provided various reasons for suffering, and “they contradict each other”.
    Let’s discuss why this is not a true representation.
    Mr. Erhman can identify with the cries of Job in the bible, asking for an answer from God regarding all the suffering & pain he was going through. But Mr. Erhman would not identify with the part when Job admitted that God has been all along doing many wonderful things in ways not explained to humans and God does not suddenly “owe” humans an explanation on this thing He is doing: namely, “allowing suffering in human lives”.
    Okay, the key here is: has God been doing “wonderful” things. And this is where I believe Mr. Erhman got a problem. And God has not left us in the dark: He sent Jesus His Son to be a human which He is not obligated by anyone to do. Jesus chose to die on the cross to pay for mankind’s sin that Jesus can choose not to bear for us. Jesus lets anyone who is willing to choose him instead of self, to let him guide one to lead a life in which one can now choose to repent from sinning everyday (even thousands of times if needed), and triumph over one’s sinfulness. And with such choosing Christ over self, Christ can enable us to do some good here, and all good in his future righteous, holy home, where our choosing Him will be very easy, after choosing Jesus despite suffering many times on earth. In short, what Mr. Erhman saw as not workable is true, when one tries to do good by his own shear will and strength (which is all-round tainted & handicapped by one’s sinfulness), but very workable when what one chooses is the almighty, “more than conquerer” Jesus Himself. A reminder: choosing Jesus, every moment, over sin and over self, is a choice, for both believers and non-believers alike.

  2. One who sees "Mr. Erhman's problem", not God's. said

    About the 2 books to be highly recommended for Mr. Erhman to probably gain some insight beyond what he saw so far:

    “Lessons from the Carpenter”
    by H. Michael Brewer, published by Waterbrook Press, year 2006.
    (particular attention could be paid to chapter 8, titled “The solid foundation”)

    “Your Victory in Jesus”
    by D.L. Moody, published by Whitaker House, year 1995.

  3. andyscathouse said

    To one who doesn’t see the real world.

    Ok I will try my best to stay on the same argument but I fully admit that I am no theologian and I have not read this book. I have watched many lectures from Dr. Ehrman and enjoyed this interview. In essence this is my response to your arguments not Dr. Ehrman’s. We both are begging the question with a unstated major premise that this supernatural thing is true and the Bible is God’s word which of course there is not a shred of evidence for.

    You said:
    “False assumptions: Mr. Erhman said that “If God loves us, He would not let us suffer…..”. This is apparently false, even in our own human sphere of reasoning & experience: a small girl would be allowed by loving parents to start her first day in school by herself, even when it costs her much suffering.

    Two problems with this and I bet they are addressed in his book. 1st What are you and Dr. Erhman defining as suffering? I bet they are different. I could see you stretch to make going to school on the first day as suffering but I am pretty sure this would make a weak lesson in a Job style metaphor and piss off a Holocaust or Tsunami victim. The 2nd is related to the definition because you are using a false continuum which is the idea that because there is no definitive demarcation line between two extremes, that the distinction betweens the extremes (going to school, and Tsunamis) are not real or meaningful.

    You said:
    That leads to Mr. Erhman’s next false assumption: he stated in the book that how would people, who don’t know how to exercise their free will properly here, know how to exercise it there (in Jesus’ heavenly home). The key Mr. Erhman has missed is — Jesus. What has changed when one chose Jesus over one’s sin and self?

    This reminds me of my favorite Sunday school answer. JESUS. (And this is a begging the question fallacy). This is a little off topic but I noticed a lot of religious folks seem to hate themselves and this amazing cosmos. Secularists care about ourselves but we also care about our community. In my opinion, it takes far more courage to stand up to religion’s nonsense in politics today. It sure would be easier to play along with religion or do what most religious people want us to do which is keep quiet so they don’t have to think about their own faulty premises.

    You said:
    Mr. Erhman stated that the old & new testaments of the bible provided various reasons for suffering, and “they contradict each other”.
    Let’s discuss why this is not a true representation.

    Sorry no. I know Dr. Erhman knows his bible and from what I have already listened to from him he nails it. In Job, suffering was caused by God, who was encouraged by Satan (like a prosecuting attorney or chess player) to test Job’s loyalty. God gets fussy and talks about where you when I defeated some kick butt beasts. In other words, shut up. Don’t question. In the New Testament, we have the devil playing a more specific role in evil. Jesus brings with him a new idea of a burning hell in the New Testament with the devil leading the chaos and evil. Oh and let’s not forget the demons that we now know are material world cause-and-effect mental and physical illnesses.

  4. One who sees "Mr. Ehrman's Problem", not God's. said

    Apology to Mr. Ehrman for mis-spelling his last time in my 2 prior responses to his new book,”God’s Problem”.

    Response to anydyscathouse:

    My response is to the argument/points put forth in Mr. Ehrman’s book.

    Every person is entitled to his/her own thoughts and beliefs, and Mr. Ehrman or anyone else are all free to believe what one chooses to believe, about God or anyone.

    In fact, I would not have made any response to a writer who expresses his/her own point of view and experience, if not for how Mr. Ehrman titled his book, “God’s Problem”.

    From Mr. Ehrman’s own description of his own background, and the detailed biblical content he quoted or used in his book, he clearly knows the bible fairly well, even the historical background etc. with his studies completed at the Moody Bible Institute and Wheaton College….and being an evangelical pastor for years…..

    However, Mr. Ehrman has made the choice to turn away from his faith in God who has sent Jesus to prove His love to the world (those evidence I could not possibly spell out for you, you have to look into them yourself, tons of them in historical & archaeological support, for what had happened and what was in the bible), but that is totally besides the point, I am not here to teach you or anything.

    Since he has chosen to turn away from his faith in God, though “kicking & screaming”, that made it the more outrageous for “him” to talk and nail “God”. Where is this “God” who got “the problem” as he so confidently said in his new thick hard-covered book, “if” he no longer believes there is “this God”??? There are many books out there titled as “Why I am an atheist”, “Why I am a Christian”, “Why I am not a Christian”…..but don’t talk on behalf of God, which is illogical when the writer no longer believes such God exists!

    Similarly with you, who “sees too much into one analogy” and stretches it to start an argument…..as I said above, I am only responding to the new book by Mr. Ehrman titled “God’s Problem”.

    As sincerely as Mr. Ehrman conveys his view points in his book, I sincerely wish that he conveys his views with a title that matches it.

    And this concluded all the responses I want to make regarding this book called “God’s Problem”.

  5. Anon said

    I sincerely wish that he conveys his views with a title that matches it.

    That is one of the many thing that theists and non-theists can agree on.

  6. randyhardman said

    I’m listening to Ehrman’s book right now on audio. Probably about halfway through at the moment…I thoroughly enjoy Ehrman as a person and his textual critical work is amongst the first that I turn to in my own NT research, but it is quite evident that he has an ax to grind here.

    As a Christian thinker, I have ambivalent feelings about this book. On one hand, he makes some quality points. On the other, he entirely misses the fact that scripture never intends to offer an “answer” to why we suffer. And I am not comfortable with his whimsical dismissal of philosophical reasoning if, in fact, he is making a claim that the existence of suffering precludes the existence of the biblical God. However, he is right that suffering and pain (and evil) are not really philosophical problems and mostly existential problems and Christians need to deal with it as such.

    http://www.randyhardman.wordpress.com

  7. randyhardman said

    Oh yes, my post on this is here:

    http://randyhardman.wordpress.com/2010/12/03/gods-problem-ehrman-is-right-at-least-somewhat/

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