The CCEL Times 5.4 (April 1, 2010)

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To view this newsletter on the Web, go to http://www.ccel.org/newsletter/5/4

In This Issue:

* From the Director [http://www.ccel.org/newsletter/5/4#a]
* Featured Classic [
* Featured Hymn [
* Classic Sermons [
From the Director

This month we begin the "Big questions" series
http://www.ccel.org/newsletter/5/3#a]. The first question for consideration is
the problem of pain: why does God let his creation suffer so terribly? To really
feel the depth of the problem of pain, one probably has to experience suffering
in its fullness: for example, serious illness or death of or betrayal by a loved
one. Alvin Plantinga gives some examples of evil
http://www.ccel.org/ccel/plantinga/warrant3.vii.iv.ii.html] inflicted by people
on other people too horrible to mention here. How do we reconcile this suffering
with God’s love for us, with his promises to care for us, supply our needs, and
answer our prayers? A classic statement of the problem is given by Hume, quoting

Is he willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is impotent. Is he able,
but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Whence is
evil? * [

Important passages from the Bible on this topic include some psalms, the book
of Job, anything having to do with Christ’s passion, and, of course, Genesis 3
where suffering entered the world as a result of the fall.

The classic answer, that God tolerates suffering for the good that comes
through it, goes back at least to Augustine. He considers evil to be merely the
privation of good,*
introduced by the will of creatures and points out that the effects of suffering
are different for the good and the wicked: "For as the same fire causes gold to
glow brightly, and chaff to smoke; and under the same flail the straw is beaten
small, while the grain is cleansed; . . . so the same violence of affliction
proves, purges, clarifies the good, but damns, ruins, exterminates the wicked."*

What are your favorite classic passages about the problem of pain? Please send
them in [
Harry Plantinga
Director of the CCEL
Featured Classic

Introduction to the New Testament
by Louis Berkhof (1873-1957)

The contents of the Gospels testify to their divine origin. We find in them a
fourfold portraiture of the Saviour. There are many differences in the
individual pictures, yet together they form a grand unity. Four writers, each
one portraying the life of Christ in his own way, to a great extent without
knowing each others writings or drawing on them, so that their individual
portraits blend perfectly into a harmonious whole, it is marvelous, it can only
be understood, if we assume that these four writers were all guided unerringly
by the same superintending Spirit. The Gospels are really the work of one
author. And the life that is pictured in them is a divine life, unfathomable,
mysterious, far surpassing human understanding.

—from the Introduction

Read this classic [http://www.ccel.org/ccel/berkhof/newtestament.html] at the

Featured Hymn

Come, You Faithful, Raise the Strain John of Damascus (c. 675-754)

Eighth-century Greek poet John of Damascus is especially known for his writing
of six canons for the major festivals of the church year. (A canon is a form of
Greek hymnody based on biblical canticles consisting of nine odes, each with six
to nine stanzas.) His "Golden Canon" is the source of Easter hymns. Written
around 750 and inspired by the Song of Moses in Exodus 15, this text is John’s
first ode from the canon for the Sunday after Easter.

Learn more about this hymn [http://www.hymnary.org/hymn/PsH/389] at the Hymnary

Read about the Hymnary [http://www.ccel.org/newsletter/3/5#director]

Classic Sermons

Charles Spurgeon on the Resurrection:

The sun comes forth, at the appointed hour, from the gates of day, and begins
to gladden the earth; even so on the third day, early in the morning, Jesus, our
Lord, arose from his sleep, and there was a great earthquake, for the angel of
the Lord descended from heaven and rolled back the stone from the door of the
sepulcher. Then did the Sun of Righteousness arise. Then did the great
Bridegroom come forth from his chamber, and begin his joyful race. It must have
been a ravishing sight to have beheld the risen Savior; well might the disciples
hold him by the feet and worship him. Methinks, if ever angels sung more sweetly
at one time than another, it must have been on that first Easter morning, when
they saw the divine champion break his bonds of death asunder, and rise into the
glorious resurrection life.

– Sermon on Psalm 19:4-6 and Malachi 4:2, November 12th, 1871

Read this sermon [http://www.ccel.org/ccel/spurgeon/sermons17.liii.html] at the
Read more works by this author
http://www.ccel.org/ccel/spurgeon/?show=worksBy] at the CCEL.

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