In the wake of life-changing events—whether as global in reach as the terrorist attacks on September 11 or as personal as the death of a child—the first question that springs to mind is “Why?” Why do good people suffer pain and loss? Why does God allow these things to happen?
In this simple, straightforward book, Bruce Henderson tackles some of the most difficult questions that people of faith face in their lives. He describes a universe in which God allows us free will and choice, subtly guiding the course of our lives with an insight no mortal can comprehend. Pain and suffering ultimately lead to good, and as we walk the path, we draw ever closer to heaven.
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“The best consideration of God’s role in tragedy from a traditional perspective that I have ever read.”
—Rabbi Harold Kushner, author of When Bad Things Happen to Good People
Bruce Henderson carefully and compassionately lays out the Swedenborgian concept of “permissions,” in which God does not will nor send tragic events, and yet allows bad things to happen in order to preserve the crucial element of human freedom. And still, God only allows painful things to happen if some good can be brought out of them. A key factor in getting through tragedy is not to look for God in the problems, but in the solutions. Henderson also dispels the idea that God sends us harsh situations to teach us lessons, because God never sends harsh situations. Harsh and painful situations are always a result of human choices toward evil, and those choices must be allowed or freedom would not exist. And even the results of evil choices are only allowed if God can ultimately turn them to good ends. This book asks us to see tragedy in a higher light, and to wonder: “What good end might be made possible through this suffering, and how can we co-operate with God in working toward that end?”
—Karin Childs, Head of the Oak Arbor Church Bookroom
Much of the doubt of God in the world lies in the evils and horror of tragedies in the world. Why Does God Let It Happen? is a spiritual and religious guide that hopes to answer that question to why evil continues to have such a powerful presence in the world, and why is there seemingly a lack of intervention from God. Thoughtful and spirit lifting, Why Does God Let It Happen? is a fine addition to any spirituality collection.
—Wisconsin Bookwatch: July 2010
One of the main reasons atheists give to explain why they do not believe in God goes something like this: If there were a benevolent and all-powerful entity running the universe, there could not be so much pain and suffering as is obviously prevalent all over the world. Its benevolence would oppose such tragedies, and it would have all the power needed to prevent them. People who do believe in God can see their point, but they feel that the situation is not as simple as all that.
In 1983 a Jewish rabbi by the name of Harold Kushner wrote a book in which he gave his explanation of why a belief in God is possible, and even reasonable, despite the widespread woe that is so apparent. He called his book When Bad Things Happen to Good People. It found a receptive audience and soon made it onto the best-seller lists.
Now a new book devoted to this subject matter has appeared on the scene. It is Why Does God Let It Happen? by Bruce Henderson. This one is especially important because it makes use of New Church theology to provide a well-reasoned answer to the question posed by the book’s title. Mr. Hendersons previous book, Window to Eternity, gave its readers the New Church view of life after the death of the physical body. His new Why? book does the same for the difficult problem of God’s tolerance of so much human suffering.
In dealing with this problem he draws on many distinctive doctrines from the Writings. These include the laws of Divine Providence, the preeminence of eternal life over that of the body, and especially the absolute necessity of preserving human freedom. In the course of weaving these doctrines into a coherent and convincing explanation of why the Lord’s permission of evil and its resulting pain and distress in no way diminishes His love and compassion for mankind, the author succeeds in composing an easy-to-read introduction to Swedenborgian theology.
This book is the latest in the series of Chrysalis books published by the Swedenborg Foundation. It is brief, well written and interesting. Apparently Rabbi Kushner himself read it with approval. On the front cover this quotation from the rabbit appears: “The best consideration of God’s role in tragedy from a traditional perspective that I have ever read.” Considering the source, that is quite a compliment; and I totally agree.
—Review written by Dr. Forrest Dristy of the Boynton Beach congregation for The New Church Voice of Florida