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TOUCHY TOPICS - Book Review

TOUCHY TOPICS
Why does God allow evil * is God a delusion? * is the Trinity Biblical * What is sex for? * Is God female

By Melvin Tinker
@2017
EP Books, UK, 200 pages

Reviewed by David W. Virtue, DD
www.virtueonline.org
February 3, 2017

You expect books about big themes like this to be wordy, incomprehensible, possibly unreadable and held in dusty theological libraries to be read by graduate students completing dissertations.

Such is not the case with this excellent book by a successful Anglican priest who has the largest parish in the most unchurched city in England and who lives his life in the real world. This book is born out of a combination of sound scholarship and 22 years of parish experience and is designed to encourage and enable Christians to think through subjects that tend to be, well, touchy.

Tinker takes Scripture as his guide and helps Christians grasp these contentious subjects with precision and clarity. This is a book not just for apologists, but for ordinary Christians who, sooner or later, will be forced to grapple with such heady issues as to why does God allow evil? If God is so good, why are things so bad? if God is sovereign, how can we be free?

They are timeless questions that each person must wrestle with sooner or later. For example, in the chapter, Is the Trinity Biblical? (bearing in mind that Jehovah's Witnesses, Thomas Jefferson and Muslims do not believe this,) Tinker writes: "If there is no trinity, then Jesus who died on the cross is not God dying in our place, but a human being who dies to save us from God and so God is not our Saviour, but a man (although it is difficult to see how a mere man could save us.)

Over and over Tinker takes complex issues and makes them digestible and understandable. Take the issue, Is God Female? A thorny issue in an age that values the feminine perhaps even more than the masculine.

Tinker writes: "It is often said that realizing the feminine in the divine is of value to women, enhancing their status, in contrast to the patriarchal nature of the Bible. In reply it has to be said that this is not simply providing a corrective to Christianity; it is creating a new religion. To be more precise it is reviving old pagan religions in Christian guise. However, when you carefully look at these religions, women are not particularly valued. In the pagan religions mentioned in the Bible, the senior god is always male and the female god is given a secondary role. They are linked with fertility which is ironic given the resistance to the idea that women are seen as mere 'baby factories.' We should not therefore be surprised that such female worship led to temple prostitution, with the women being the losers and men being the oppressive winners."

Then Tinker says this; "At a pragmatic level, moves to view God in feminine categories will simply increase the already rapid exit of men form church. Over the last 30 years there has been an increased feminization of the church, not least in terms of its leadership, which to be frank is a switch-off for many men. The glory of the revelation of God in Jesus Christ is that he commandeered the allegiance of both sexes--hardy fishermen like Peter and Andrew and domestic careers like Martha and Mary."

It is this kind of theological and practical thinking that makes this book so readable and believable.

A question that troubles many today is; If God is so good, why are things so bad? Tinker quickly takes out Christian Science (there is no pain), Process theologian David Griffin who denies the doctrine of omnipotence fundamental to it, moves on to Archibald MacLeish in his play J.B., an updated re-presentation of the story of Job who makes the Creator of the Universe the miscreator of mankind, a party to the crimes He punishes and concludes with words from C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity. "This is the idea that 'evil' can't be 'created' as such, because it does not have the kind of substantial existence that 'good' has. Good can exist all by itself, but evil can't. Evil is parasitic on the good in that if there were no good, there would be no evil, but it is possible to have good without evil. Or we may think of blindness as the absence of sight and so as blindness is the departure from sight, so sin is the departure from good. Here, then, evil is more of an 'unmaking' of what is good, a corruption.

It is this kind of terse reasoning that makes this book a must possession not only for yourself, but to give to Millennials, waverers and thoughtful non-believers. It will also reinforce your own faith against its cultured despisers.

The book can be purchased in the UK here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Touchy-Topics-Melvin-Tinker/dp/1783971797/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1486143830&sr=1-1&keywords=touchy+topics

In the US here: https://www.amazon.com/Touchy-Topics-Melvin-Tinker/dp/1783971797

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