In times of questioning and despair, people often quote the Bible to provide answers. Surprisingly, though, the Bible does not have one answer but many “answers” that often contradict one another. Consider these competing explanations for suffering put forth by various biblical writers:
* The prophets: suffering is a punishment for sin
* The book of Job, which offers two different answers: suffering is a test, and you will be rewarded later for passing it; and suffering is beyond comprehension, since we are just human beings and God, after all, is God
* Ecclesiastes: suffering is the nature of things, so just accept it
* All apocalyptic texts in both the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament: God will eventually make right all that is wrong with the world
For renowned Bible scholar Bart Ehrman, the question of why there is so much suffering in the world is more than a haunting thought. Ehrman’s inability to reconcile the claims of faith with the facts of real life led the former pastor of the Princeton Baptist Church to reject Christianity.
In God’s Problem, Ehrman discusses his personal anguish upon discovering the Bible’s contradictory explanations for suffering and invites all people of faith – or no faith – to confront their deepest questions about how God engages the world and each of us.