Bart Ehrman is an American New Testament scholar and is currently a Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He completed his Masters of Divinity and PhD at Princeton Seminary. He has since then written numerous books looking at the New Testament in a historical and critical manner. On a more personal note, he began his studies as an evangelical Christian, but now considers himself agnostic. As he explains in God’s Problem, it was the problem of suffering that started him down the road he has taken. He was actually researching in an effort to explain and excuse suffering. Instead, what he found finally drove him to renounce his faith.
Ehrman covers several usual reasons that people use to explain why a loving God would allow people to suffer. There is the justification that people have sinned and God uses suffering as a punishment or learning device to lead them back to following his rules. This reasoning traces back to the beginning of the Jewish faith. The Old Testament prophets used this explanation. Later prophets (think Job) believed that suffering is a test that must be passed in order to receive God’s rewards. Another, more pessimistic, view is that suffering is a part of this world because sin is in the world and there is nothing to be done other than accept that. Ehrman explores each answer in miniscule detail with plenty of cited supports for reference.
It is an interesting book, written to be accessible to the layman. I felt Ehrman did a good job validating his stance. In fact, it was almost too much supporting evidence to read without becoming wearied of it. Ehrman did not sway any beliefs or decisions that I already had in place, but I did enjoy reading it. I would not recommend this book to someone looking for an actual answer to why God allows suffering. Ehrman never finds the answer he was searching for.