Monday, 16 March 1998

Peter Cotterell: Is God Helpless? - Suffering and the Sovereignty of God (1996)

Edition: SPCK, 1996
Review number: 10

The author, formerly head of London Bible College is well qualified to write a book on a Christian view of suffering, having been a missionary in Ethiopia at the time of the famine there. He comes over as a lot more sensitive than a lot of authors on this subject, and I found the book a helpful read.

I didn't agree with all he had to say, particularly not his ideas on hell and judgment. This doesn't mean that he was un-Biblical, more that I find the traditional idea of judgment difficult to accept emotionally. It was interesting to see his own emotions disagreeing with his intellectual conclusion; although he ended up supporting a fairly traditional viewpoint, most of his arguments were in favour of
destruction rather than everlasting punishment.

Cotterell is particularly keen to refute any view of suffering which denies its reality or which assigns its cause to a righteous God of anger. This is one of the reasons why this book is valuable, as the first of often put forward in a disguised fashion to explain the second, and neither is terribly helpful.

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