Notes From The Tilt-A-Whirl by N.D. Wilson
Book Review in Three is my attempt to give a short summary of my thoughts on a book I’ve finished. The goal is a reading time no longer than three minutes. By nature, these won’t be exhaustive reviews and often I may link to others who have gone more in-depth for deeper analysis when needed.
This is not the first book I’ve read by Wilson. His book Death By Living was my introduction to his seemingly haphazard writing style. Needless to say I loved that book. Wilson was able to express thoughts I’ve struggled to articulate for a long time. He is able to weave together the seemingly random and mundane with the utterly brain spinning power of God’s sovereignty (only like a good Calvinist could).
While Death dealt with biblical concept that to live really means to die to ourselves, Notes tackles the problem of evil.
The problem of evil is usually the first place a secular/atheist/westerner unbeliever goes.
“If God is good, then why is there evil?”
Any Christian worth their salt needs to have an apologetic toolbox that deals with such objections. Unfortunately, while often logically sound and passionately fought for, such answers on this topic can ring hollow. They usually lack skin in the game. Evil can become academic too quickly. A pastoral 101 no-no would be to try to open said apologetic toolbox at a funeral.
This is where Wilson hits it out of the park. He has the apologetic chops. He knows Hume and Niche, but he answers them incarnationaly.
Life isn’t a lab experiment. It is a story. God is writing the greatest story ever, with billions of plot lines all woven together.
But to an infinite artist, a Creator in love with His craft, there is no unimportant corner, there is no thrown-away image, no tattered thread in the novel left untied.
The problem of evil is ultimately soul crushing if man is at the center of the answer. If we reason up to God from our fallen and haughty position we end up despising God for the story he has written. We shake our fists and say, “How could you let this happen!” It’s as if we expect God to be running our script when it is actually the other way around.
Do you dislike your role in the story, your place in the shadow? What complaints do we have that the hobbits could not have heaved at Tolkien? You have been born into a narrative, you have been given freedom. Act, and act well until you reach the final scene.
It’s not our story. God is not following our script. We are in his story and he has written every drop of it. Every crazy subatomic particle is obeying Him right now. Every solar flair and black hole is acting their parts. It is only us, made is his image who sought to grab the pen for ourselves, who fret and are angered by the beauty of the Author’s narrative. This is what Wilson draws out so well. He reminds us of how utterly small we are while how gracious the Story Teller is.
For ultimately God was not satisfied just to write us our parts, but he wrote himself into his story.
He exists on two planes. He sees the story as He tells it, while He weaves it, shapes it, and sings it. And He stepped inside it.
Christ came as the author in order to die for his people. He bore the evil that they allowed into His perfect world. He drank every drop of the righteous wrath that evil deserved. Then he put evil, sin, and death in the grave when he walked out of the tomb. It was always the point of the story.
Wilson’s book is one of the best I’ve read on this subject. He as able to stretch our narrow gaze to see how much bigger this whole thing is.
I highly recommend it.