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When Bad Things Happen to Good People: Pain and Suffering

Harold Kushner's book When Bad Things Happen to Good People demonstrates a limited view of God-a God who cannot intervene in pain and suffering. In Kushner's view, "God can't do everything, but He can do some important things" (113). Kushner tempers traditional belief in God as being omnipotent, willing and able to do miracles to rescue man from his dilemmas, with a view of God that applies limitations to His powers. Kushner suggests that we can believe in God but "not hold God responsible for life's tragedies" and that "God wants justice and fairness but cannot always arrange for them" (114). Kushner asserts that it is destructive to teach children that God can do anything, only for them to find out that He has done nothing to help them. He asks, "What better way to teach children to hate God than to teach them that God could have cured them, but 'for their own good' chose not to?" (115).

Kushner assumes that God would help everyone if He could but that He cannot. He sees God as good and benevolent, desirous of helping, but restricted in power to the extent that He is only able to help some of the people some of the time. He cannot do all, cure all, or help all. The mysterious issue of why God can heal some but not others or fix some problems but not all is not clearly explained in Kushner's book, but it is clear that his assessment of God's powers is based not on the Torah or the Bible but upon his own assessment and interpretation of people's experiences, including his own.

In this upside down approach to viewing reality, Kushner comes up with some startling conclusions. One of these is that "sometimes there is no reason" other than "randomness in the universe" (46). Kushner argues that there is such a thing as luck, being in the wrong place at the wrong time. He sees God as either unwilling or incapable of intervening in such situations, just letting luck take over. He also asserts that i


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When Bad Things Happen to Good People: Pain and Suffering. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 14:00, March 19, 2019, from