God Can't

A Review
Frank A. Mills

June 16, 2022

How to Believe in God and Love after Tragedy, Abuse and Other Evils

Thomas Jay Oord

God Can’t: How to Believe in God and Love after Tragedy, Abuse and Other Evils, Thomas Jay Oord, 2019, Grasmere, Idaho, SacraSage Press, Paperback, ISBN: 978-1-948609-12-8, $17.99.

How can I believe in God and love when evil abounds, tragedy strikes and abuse happens?

If you are struggling with God’s love God Can’t is written for you.

Thomas Jay Oord in God Can’t flips the question, “how can I?” to the phrase, “How to believe in God and love after tragedy, abuse, and other evils.”

The “how to” rests in how we think about God and love. Frankly, the traditional platitudes about God and love that Christians hand out after tragedy just don’t cut the mustard. With them, we end up questioning God, begging for something God can’t do, and ultimately concluding that God is a liar, or that God is a lie.

Toward the end of God Can’t, Oord writes, “God’s love plays offense and defense.” How does this work? Well, that’s what the book is about. Two basic assumptions run throughout the book: Assumption one is that God always love us. The second assumption is that genuine evil occurs. The solution to evil, as God Can’t lays it out, is found in five interlinked, codependent ideas about God, creation, and evil. Because they’re interlinked, each individual idea is incomplete on its own. As does Oord, I urge you to read the entire book (especially is you are prone to dismiss a point out of hand).

Oord develops each idea chapter by chapter: Although there is a solution to evil (preface) God cannot prevent evil (chapter 1), even so, God feels our pain (chapter 2), works to heal (chapter 3) and squeezes good from bad (chapter 4). However, to do so, God needs our cooperation (chapter 5). It is all summed up in the postscript, although God can’t, the “good news is that God can.” And God can because God’s relentless love is uncontrolling.

Much more could be said about each idea, but rather than me saying more in this review, I think it will benefit you far more if you read the book, especially if you are struggling with God and the question of love. Even if you are not – or think you aren’t – read the book. Oord writes simply. God Can’t is an easy read. At the end of each chapter are questions designed to help think through the idea of the chapter and move along the process of learning how to believe in God and love.

br /> Thomas Jay Oord (PhD) directs the doctoral program in Open and Relation Theology at Northwind Theological Seminary. He also directs the Center for Open and Relational Theology. Tom’s website: Open & Relational Theology | Facebook Group Page.

© Frank A. Mills, 1997-2024

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