Jay Winters's Reviews > Suffering: A Test of Theological Method

Suffering by Arthur C. McGill
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's review
Apr 20, 2012

really liked it
Read from March 27 to April 20, 2012

Book Closing: After having read and loved Arthur C. McGill's other book, "Death and Life: An American Theology," it is tempting for me to simply compare these two books. I enjoyed "Death and Life" better and yet often felt I would have enjoyed it more had I understood the basic building blocks that McGill puts forth in this book.

"Suffering" lays out the basic framework of McGill's take on theology and the nature of God and His followers - a nature that is foreign to much of American theology because rather than focusing on the "otherworldliness", "absoluteness", and "magnificence" of God's nature, McGill instead focuses on the suffering, relational giving, and full expenditure of God in Christ. This leads to focusing not on the self-glorification of the Christian through good works and the like (in fact, it's even at times shocking how that is absolutely derided), but focusing on the neediness of Christians, the sinful tendency of trying to possess God and neighbor by religious acts, and the suffering nature of the Church.

Much like reading a more modern translation of Bonhoeffer's "Cost of Discipleship", McGill is unyielding in holding our feet to the fire of what true discipleship in this world must look like. Simply stated, McGill shows us that true discipleship is absolutely frightening to consider without the power of Christ - something that we cannot say about the "12 step discipleship" that we see in many popular Christian books and sermons.

McGill lays forth how the frightening nature of "suffering" is the crucible in which we can put any theology to test its mettle - both in terms of a theology of God's inner self (the economy and nature of the Trinity, especially as seen through the argument between Athanasius and Arius), and in terms of the theology of what God does for man (especially seen in the parable of the Good Samaritan).

Another excellent book from McGill that should probably be read before "Death and Life" in order to add further enjoyment to that book.

Book Opening: I couldn't have enough good things to say about McGill's other book, "Death and Life: An American Theology", and now I get to read his other (and earlier) book "Suffering". From the forward, it appears that he will be visiting some of the same topics: the giving of life as God's power, the suffering of God as inextricable from the mercy of God, and the life of a Christian as one of self-giving in suffering (rather than self-giving and not suffering, which is arguably less of a "giving").

Looking forward to it.

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Reading Progress

03/27/2012 page 19
03/30/2012 page 29
22.0% "So far, not able to really crawl into this one yet."
04/04/2012 page 52
40.0% "Not as quickly endearing as "Death and Life", but still many poignant observations"
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