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The God I Don't Understand: Reflections on Tough Questions of Faith

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  324 ratings  ·  55 reviews
If we are honest, we have to admit that there are many things we don’t understand about God. We do not have final answers to the deep problems of life, and those who say they do are probably living in some degree of delusion. There are areas of mystery in our Christian faith that lie beyond the keenest scholarship or even the most profound spiritual exercises. For many peo ...more
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published November 27th 2008 by Zondervan
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Dec 31, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Christopher Wright is now alongside NT Wright as a favorite, must-read Bible scholar! Wright is right (I know, that's cheesy).

In this book Wright discusses things about God he does not understand. These are not just intellectual difficulties. When he discusses the work of Christ on the cross he does not fully grasp the majesty and beauty of it (who can?).

Each chapter is readable,thorough and brilliant. I have read other books on these same topics and Wright comes at them from a slightly differen
Nov 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: christians who are struggling with some of the big questions
Recommended to V by: city church
first, this book was good in that it made me want to read the bible. wright quotes extensively from the bible, especially the old testament, and provides just enough context to make me want to read the story (instead of seeing isolated quotes).

equally important, it helps me think about some of the sticking points of christianity (why is there evil in the world? why did the old testament god help israel demolish the canaanites?) without presuming to have some kind of neat solution.

i would recomm
John Martindale
Aug 17, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: christian, theology
Gee.... Goodreads should have a half star. 3 stars would seem to many and yet 2 stars seemed to few, I wish I could have given it two and half stars.

But yeah, The first part of the book deals a little with suffering. He believes we can't understand and likely never will, and coming from what seems a theistic evolutionist persuasion, there is even more mystery. Indeed the curse doesn't easily explain all natural evil, it only explains thorns.
Wright shows how the bible is filled with angry outb
Adam Shields
Dec 05, 2011 rated it really liked it
Short review: This is the second of Christopher Wright's books I have read recently and I will be reading more. This is a very pastoral book focused on showing us how to read scripture and understand both the limits of our knowledge and correct common misunderstandings about God. He takes four areas, 1) the problems of evil, 2) understanding how/why God destroyed Israel's neighbors in the Old Testament, 3) what we can know and understand about the crucifixion and 4) how to understand heaven, rev ...more
Aug 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-i-own
This book was a gift to me, from one of my former teachers. And, let me tell you, it's an amazing book. It brought me back to connecting faith in God with difficult theological questions – questions of faith. I think ultimately, as Christians we have to trust that God knows best – that he is good, and that 'good' is what he is, was, and always will be. Really great book.
Jan 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Honest yet hopeful.

Openly honest about what he doesn't understand about God and yet still full faith in the God he doesn't understand. Well written and personally helpful for me. Love his appreciation of all of scripture and his cross-cultural insight.
Donner Tan
Feb 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
Christopher Wright has established himself among evangelical readers as a leading OT scholar with books like 'The Mission of God' and 'OT Ethics for the People of God'. Now, this is a lighter reading than the other two even as he attempts to struggle with some of the hardest questions Christians (and yes, Atheists too) have asked concerning the God of the bible - the problem of evil, divinely sanctioned violence, the mystery of the cross and the end times. Having dispelled the dead-end solutions ...more
Aug 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: hardback
Very accessible theological reflection on four "tough questions" of faith - the issue of evil and suffering; God's wrath, especially in relationship to the Canaanites (God's command for their destruction); the cross of Christ itself; and what happens in the last days. These are admittedly four of the author's big concerns (and not necessarily the 'hardest' of all issues), but they generally represent some of the pressing stumbling blocks that concern people of faith (and those without faith) whe ...more
Helen Birkbeck
Mar 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
Honest and helpful attempt to make sense of some things about the Bible that Christians have trouble with. It doesn't supply that many actual answers but goes a fair way towards showing why these questions are hard and what we might do about it with regard to keeping faithful. I wish he had covered a few more subjects that are hard for us.
Jamey Hinds
Jul 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Refreshingly open and challenging.
Coram Deo Church
The God I Don't Understand is available as a print book from Seattle Public Library and can be accessed here:
Beth Peninger
Jul 05, 2011 rated it liked it
What I love about this book is the permission it grants to not understand God fully, to have doubts and questions about things he says or does. Too many times those with doubts, questions, and hesitations are quieted with Christianese sayings and guilt. But the most devoted believer of Christ will have their moments/seasons of doubt, of misunderstanding, of wondering if it all is for naught. Frankly, when I run into a believer who hasn't been unsure, who hasn't questioned God, who hasn't doubted ...more
So far I'm enjoying his discussion. I'm not always sure I definitely agree with everything, but that doesn't bother me. Mostly I feel privileged and grateful that the author was kind enough to share some of his inner dialogue and thoughts on these difficult and hairy issues.

Every now and then I wish he would explain some of the logic behind arguments he doesn't agree with before dismissing them, so instead of just saying, some people think this, but I don't agree, it would be more like some peop
Sep 08, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: apologetics, 2010
I've been reading through Christopher Wright's book, The GOD i Don't Understand." I have been led to worship & tears again & again. In reading his chapter, "The Cross--How?" I came across this section that was water for my thirsty soul:

We may have no control over what other people think of us, but that need not destroy the proper sense of dignity and self-respect that comes from know the affirmation of God himself...the same person, alone with God and the memories of the past, can quite properly
David Campton
Jul 19, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There is much to commend this book. The author is intellectually rigorous and honest, whilst remaining true to a conservative evangelical theological framework, with its thorough-going Biblicism. It was refeshing for someone from this theological strand admit to "gaps" in the Bible's ability to answer theological, philosophical and moral questions, and to have him state his position in such a humble and irenic fashion. In this he is clearly following in the footsteps of his mentor and friend Joh ...more
Robert Durough, Jr.
Oct 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
While working through the unread books in my library, I realized I still had one more by Christopher J. H. Wright that I had forgotten about: The God I Don’t Understand: Reflections on Tough Questions of Faith. Wright here works through four of the big questions people often have when struggling with God and the Bible: evil & suffering, destruction of the Canaanites, the cross, and thoughts on the end of the world. He addresses each of these issues through faith, scholarship, and trust, honestly ...more
Feb 22, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: audio, 2009
On the conquest of Canaan:
"Israel's practice of herem was not in itself unique. Texts from other nations at the time show that such total destruction in war was practiced, or at any rate proudly claimed, elsewhere. But we must also recognize that the language of warfare had a conventional rhetoric that liked to make absolute and universal claims about total victory and completely wiping out the enemy. Such rhetoric often exceeded the reality on the ground.

Admittedly this does not remove the prob
Feb 14, 2009 rated it really liked it
This is definitely as the subtitle says ~ A Reflection ~ Mr Wright is writing about those questions, from a scholar's perspective, that just don't get answered definitively by the Bible. He uses his own experiences for illustations so it's not just a theoretical interpretation but also has humour and reality situations. In the Preface he states: "To know God, to love and trust him with all one's heart and soul and strength, is not the same as to understand God in all his ways" Isaiah 55:8-9" I b ...more
Mar 23, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book from a top-notch theologian! Wright is one of my favorite authors, and this book only solidifies his place near the top of the list. In both content and tone, this is a great book.

I purchased this book expecting that he would tackle the problem of evil and OT violence (he does, and it's all very good), but my favorite part of the book ended up being the sections on the cross and on end times. His presentation of the atonement is one of the most concise yet thorough treatments I've
Frank Peters
Jun 04, 2012 rated it liked it
This book was not what I expected, but that is my fault considering the title. I was hoping that Dr. Wright’s reflections on tough questions of faith would be a bit more objective, or scholarly, or systematic, or apologetic. But, alas, there were too many reflections as advertised. To be fair, there were outstanding portions of the book, but these were surrounded by musings and reflections. I really wanted to like the book, especially since the author articulated (at least when not musing and re ...more
Feb 02, 2009 rated it really liked it
Christopher Wright is a great help to me. One thing that is unique about this particular book is Wright doesn't just tackle problem of evil issues that typically enter "tough questions" of the Christian faith books (which he does!), but he focus us on the cross, and recent debates about it. Wright is cross-centered, and this means every problem he deals with should be understood in light of the cross, he states, "[the cross:] outweighs in positive glory everything else that puzzles me with negat ...more
Russell Hamilton
Very good. Really enjoyed this book. First couple of chapters are harder to read. The chapter on the cross is really good.
Feb 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
Who hasnt questioned Gods order for the Israelites to destroy every man woman and child among the Canaanites? Even those of us committed to a Biblical faith scratch our heads trying to understand exactly how the execution of Jesus by the Romans 2000 years ago can remove my guilt for snapping at my husband yesterday. And what about all those confusing theories about end times? Preacher and scholar Christopher Wright is committed to the authority of Scripture, but open about his own struggles as h ...more
Jeffrey Backlin
Aug 15, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: theology
Bought this book to read based on several recommendations. The author is an OT scholar and has an easy to follow writing style and approaches his four topics based solely on biblical interpretation (no philosophy, history, etc), hence some of his responses seemed to be weak (e.g. the problem of evil). Of the nine chapters the best where Wright's treatment on the Caananites, the why/what of Christ's atonement and his treatment of eschatology. The content, however, was not on par with other treatm ...more
Dave Courtney
Apr 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
An intellectual and pastoral reflection that confronts biblical problems and difficult questions the result from the reality of pain and suffering while remaining entirely cross centered. It's a book that allows us to approach the difficulty of unanswered questions by saying, that's alright. We are not in control, but God is thankfully stands much taller than our own limited perspective on the story of life. It's a book that should prove to be a great comfort to anyone wrestling with efforts to ...more
Jan 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This book has been my bedtime reading for a month. It's been wonderful as well as reassuring to drift to sleep thinking about how awesome yet mysterious our God is. Wright helps the reader to realize that there are limitations to our understanding, and that those limits can cause us pain and sadness. Sometimes--based on our own experiences--we even question if God really is God. In his almost memoir-style Wright points the reader to Scripture, and reassures us that God can handle our questions a ...more
Apr 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing
An amazing book that tackles many questions of the faith. Not hard and difficult to read, but flows with style and imagery and expertise writing skill. A balance of quotations (not many, but useful ones) and external resources, but the voice of the author is primary and a fun voice. I throughly enjoyed this book despite it's category. Especially liked the sections on New Earth at the end. Get this book, I recommend it to believers under a year into the faith.
Aug 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
He tackles four hard questions: evil & suffering, what about the Canaanite conquest and all that killing, how does the cross actually atone for us, what about the end of the world. I found the first three engaging as I am not that curious about the last. He is very honest IMO about answers which are hard to come by particularly about the Canaan conquest. No deep language, written in English. If you want to wrestle with these questions it's a good book. ...more
Tim and Popie Stafford
Aug 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
I particularly liked the title, which represents a subtle view. With those we know, and especially those we know and love best, we often don't understand. Yet we can love and honor and trust them.

The chapter on the problem of the Canaanites is extremely good, probably the best thing I have read on that subject. It doesn't pretend to offer a comprehensive apology, but rather explores the topic in order to make it fit under, "don't understand" rather than "can't stand."
Feb 17, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition

I felt like this book didn't really try to answer a lot of the questions it posed. Essentially there was a lot of "that's just part of the mystery of God" treatment of several subjects. That's fine and all...but why write a book about it. In the end...nothing really stood out that would cause me to recommend this book to anyone who is interested in wrestling with some of the tougher topics in Christianity.
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Christopher J.H. Wright, (born 1947) is a Anglican clergyman and an Old Testament scholar. He is currently the director of Langham Partnership International. He was the principal of All Nations Christian College. He is an honorary member of the All Souls Church, Langham Place in London, UK.

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