I recently received Why is God Ignoring Me? by Gary Habermas for review from Tyndale House Publishers. Dr. Habermas is a professor of apologetics and philosophy at Liberty University and is known for his work on the historical case for the physical resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Since high school, I have struggled to figure out what faith looks like when my experience of God’s presence is confronted by my experience with the presence of evil and suffering in our world and the seeming silence of God. I’ve read a number of books on related topics, and was interested in reading this popular work on the subject by an important voice in conservative/apologetic evangelical Christianity.
Habermas’ book begins by acknowledging that there is “just enough evidence [about God] to convince, but not enough to coerce” (xiii) and recognizing the tension between what we believe (and once experienced) about God and the silence or absence that characterizes much of our existence. Throughout the book, Habermas discusses topics such as supernatural events, relevant biblical texts, and the practice of prayer to defend the reality of God’s presence despite experiences or feelings that might suggest otherwise. When faced with a crisis of faith or a period of spiritual drought, Habermas encourages readers to turn to examples of Biblical accounts of those who held on to faith despite God remaining unseen, engage in the practice of spiritual disciplines, and reflect on what one knows to be true (or what has been known to be true in the past) even in times of doubt or disbelief.
Habermas’ argument and starting point is consistent throughout: God is real even if we may not always experience that reality. The book contains a number of stories and examples of God at work in the world, combined with autobiographical sketches of Habermas’ own journey through pain and suffering. While I appreciated the clarity of the book’s message, I did not feel that it always provided enough space to acknowledge the existential and emotional struggle and loneliness often present in faith, and it perhaps too quickly moved to provide sound logical arguments to quench a thirst that may not be so easily satisfied. I do not doubt that many will find the book a helpful and practice resource for confronting doubt and the perennial issue of “God’s silence,” yet was personally left desiring more room (or perhaps more permission) to doubt, question, and linger in the questions raised by the journey of faith.