Keeping Up with Keller: The Gospel and Suffering

Let’s admit it. It’s getting hard to keep up with all of Tim Keller’s new publications (that’s six books in the last 15-months, for anyone who’s counting). And yet, while rapid publication by an author is often an attempt at seizing the market by way of sequels, prequels, and spinoffs, Keller’s recent books are not forced, nor are they lacking in substantial content. In fact, it would appear that, if anything, Keller’s contributions are growing increasingly weighty and important.

Case in point: Keller’s latest (Walking with God through Pain and Suffering) may very well now be the “go-to” book on the topic of suffering. It is winsomely apologetic, theologically convicted, and pastorally sensitive. We’re happy to recommend it as a must-have resource for Christian readers, and a must-interact-with book for those who are skeptical of the claims of Christian faith, particularly as they relate to the “problem of evil.”

If you’re anything like me, half the fun of reading Keller is discovering new insight and perspective by way of the author’s use of illustrative and supporting quotations. Many a profound quote from Lewis, Tolkien, Nietzsche, or Camus has embedded itself in my thinking and subsequent conversation by way of Keller’s introduction. Walking with God is no exception. Here’s a choice quote from B.B. Warfield on the significance of Jesus’ “bellowing with anger” over the death of his friend Lazarus (Jn. 11:38):

It is death that is the object of his wrath, and behind death him who has the power of death, and whom he has come into the world to destroy. Tears of sympathy may fill his eyes, but this is incidental. His soul is held by rage: and he advances to the tomb, in Calvin’s words again, “as a champion who prepares for conflict.”. . . What John does for us in this particular statement is to uncover to us the heart of Jesus, as he wins for us our salvation. Not in cold unconcern, but in flaming wrath against the foe, Jesus smites in our behalf. He has not only saved us from the evils which oppress us; he has felt for and with us in our oppression, and under the impulse of these feelings has wrought out our redemption (137).

In this most recent book Keller does what he does best. He points us to a God who was willing not only to suffer for us, but to suffer with us, in order that we might be comforted in our present suffering by the certain knowledge that he has ultimately eradicated it in his death and resurrection. That said, if you’re looking for a helpful resource on how the A-to-Z implications of the gospel connect to the difficult, painful, confusing realities of life in a fractured world, look no further.

Here are a few other comments, reviews, and interviews that you may find interesting:

  • Tony Reinke’s top 20 quotes from Walking with God
  • Joni Eareckson Tada’s review of what “may be the most comprehensive contemporary book on the subject”
  • Matt Smethurst’s interview with Keller
  • Check out the trailer below: