God Can’t: How to believe in God and love after a tr​agedy, abuse, and other evils

by | May 26, 2019 | Book | 0 comments

By Thomas Jay Oord


When I was just sixteen years old, my dad passed away from heart disease. I remember the last words he ever said to me. They still echo loud and clear in my heart. Those words are “Scott, be strong. You are about to become the man of the house.” As noble as those words were, I took them as an order to not allow my emotions to show. So I suppressed my feelings of sorrow for years. I didn’t grow up in the church but, I often thought to myself “How can a loving God allow this evil to happen” and “Why does God allow suffering in this world”?


In Oord’s book, he challenges a traditional belief. I am sure we all have heard “Everything happens for a reason”. But, Oord says “It doesn’t make sense to say a loving God permitsevil. 

You are probably thinking the same thing when I first read that. “But, what about the story of Job”? Oord mentions something about that later on in his book.


I love another quote by Oord that he mentions in the first chapter. He says that “A Loving person prevents preventable evil” and also in the same chapter says God can’t prevent evil single-handedly.

This idea makes some sense if you think about the Body of Christ. He (Christ) is the Head of the body and functions as the mind, where revelation, wisdom, and knowledge comes from. So the head and the rest of the body need to co-operate together. We have this responsibility we are given the ability to respond. God has given us the gift of free will, where we can choose to obey or choose not to obey. We see that in the garden with Adam & Eve and we still have that option today. 


Now I know when traditional beliefs are challenged, we can expect to hear outrage, see carnage, and shout that people are heretics! I am sure at one time another, that great men of faith have experienced the same thing, such as Luther, Wesley, Apostle Paul, and even our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. 

So I challenge you, to read the scriptures along with this book without bringing any preconceived ideas with you and allow the Holy Spirit to speak to your heart.



Hurting people ask heart-felt questions about God and suffering. Some “answers” they receive appeal to mystery: “God’s ways are not our ways”. Some answers say God allows evil for a greater purpose. Some say evil is God’s punishment.

The usual answers fail. They don’t support the truth God loves everyone all the time. God Can’t gives a believable answer to why a good and powerful God doesn’t prevent evil.

Author Thomas Jay Oord says God’s love is inherently uncontrolling. God loves everyone and everything, so God can’t control anyone or anything. This means God cannot prevent evil singlehandedly. God can’t stop evildoers, whether human, animal, organisms, or inanimate objects and forces.

In God Can’t, Oord gives a plausible reason why some are healed but many others are not. God always works to heal everyone, but sometimes our bodies, organisms, or other creatures do not cooperate with God’s healing work. Or the conditions of creation are not right for the healing God wants to do. 

Some people think God causes or allows suffering to teach us lessons or build our character. God Can’tdisagrees. Oord says God squeezes good from the evil God didn’t want in the first place. God uses pain and suffering without willing or even allowing it.

Most people think God can overcome evil singlehandedly. In God Can’t, Oord says God needs cooperation for love to reign now and later. This leads to a better view of the afterlife he calls, “relentless love.” It rejects traditional ideas of heaven, hell, and annihilation. Relentless love holds to the possibility all creatures and all creation will respond to God’s love.

God Can’t is written in understandable language. Thomas Jay Oord’s status as a world-renown theologian brings credibility to the book’s radical ideas. He explains these ideas through true stories, illustrations, and scripture. 

God Can’t is for those who want answers to tragedy, abuse, and other evils that make sense!


“If conventional notions of God make less and less sense to you, you’ll find Thomas Jay Oord’s new book a breath of fresh air. Simply put, “God Can’t” presents an understanding of God that thoughtful, ethical people can believe in.”
— Brian D. McLaren, author of The Great Spiritual Migration

“I did not want this book to end. I wish Dr. Oord had written it 100 years ago, or 1000 years ago… To find your understanding of life and your love for God renewed, read this book.”
— Dr. Karen Strand Winslow, Ph.D., Biblical and Jewish Studies Professor of Bible, Azusa Pacific University

“As a clinical psychologist working with people in trauma, I owe Thomas Jay Oord an enormous debt of gratitude for recasting the so-called problem of evil in terms that are conceptually satisfying, theologically consistent, and pastorally liberating.”
— Dr Roger Bretherton- Principal Lecturer at the University of Lincoln (UK), Chair of the British Association of Christians in Psychology

“Victims of trauma sometimes hear theological responses that imply their suffering is somehow “God’s will.” A more careful theological reflection on the nature of the power of a God who is love can help. Oord gives us a clear and compelling alternative in this profoundly insightful and admirably concrete and accessible book.”
— Dr. Anna Case-Winters, Professor of Theology at McCormick Theological Seminary

“I know of no book that speaks to suffering with the depth of theological sophistication and psychological sensitivity as God Can’t. This book is a rare combination of depth and accessibility, truly written for the wounded. I recommend it to my students, parishioners, and therapy clients.”
— Dr. Brad D. Strawn, Professor of the Integration of Psychology and Theology, Fuller Theological Seminary

Cover image provided by MockUpShots.com.

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