Sarah’s Laughter by Vinoth Ramachandra
Timely book addressing the issues of violence, sickness, decay and death and their resultant grief in the face of the Christian faith
By Vinoth Ramachandra
Langham Global Partnership
Reviewed by David Kerrigan
This timely new book from Vinoth Ramachandra addresses the issues of violence, sickness, decay and death and their resultant grief in the face of the Christian faith. Accepting that God has acted in and through Jesus Christ to overcome these things, why is it, then, that we live day by day with ongoing trauma? How is this to be reconciled?
Ramachandra does not offer simplistic answers, but grapples with oft-overlooked biblical themes of lament, doubt, and unknowing. Along the way he recognises the self-imposed limitations of God that allow us the freedom to live as we need to live to be fully human, and challenges the doctrine of the Impassability of God, the notion that God’s perfection implies he is unchanged and oblivious to the pain of those he has created.
This book has many great strengths, but I highlight three.
Firstly, there is a chapter that focuses on the biblical book of Job and for that alone this book is worth buying. Certainly, anyone who wishes to preach on Job should read ‘Job and the Messiness of Theology’ (chapter 2).
Secondly, he takes a mature and scientifically rigorous approach to the notion of ‘the fall’ and argues that not all death and decay can be simply written off as signs of a sinful departing from divine perfection (chapter 4).
Thirdly, this book is searingly honest. The painful path he describes is one he has travelled, and he has the heart to see that many others continue to walk these paths today. For that reason alone, he won't allow shallow answers to dull the need to wrestle with God and Scripture.
As always with Ramachandra, this is serious theology, challenging some of the trite formulations that we sometimes hide behind in the face of suffering and pain. He is a discomforting theologian – but we are always the better for being discomforted from poor theology.
David Kerrigan is the former General Director of BMS World Mission