So essentially, to win a bet with Satan, the Abrahamic God literally massacres an entire family. How can anyone think that a God that does this is “good”? Even when I was a Christian, this story always bothered me.
Well for one I believe it’s a fictional tale. I don’t think the literary style conveys a real story. So I don’t think God ever did this. I think it’s just a prose on human struggle and judgement and faith.
I agree. I think that is a common scholarly interpretation too.
The story is pretty obviously just the framework for the theological discussion which follows.
And yet the question remains… why do bad things happen to good people? Because in reality the story of Job is essentially played out million of times over and over again all over the world. The problem of evil and suffering is the greatest challenge to theism and answers to it are certainly possible but hardly trivial. It is the reason why I say that I could not believe in Christianity without evolution. For we learn from evolution that suffering is a necessity for the development of life. And while cooperation (essence of good behavior) is one of the most successful survival strategies, it is hardly sufficient or the only important factor.
Thanks, @Randy, for the link to Pete Enns’ podcast about Job. I agree completely with Enns’ understanding of the Book of Job: “Job’s defense throughout is that [his friends’] theology, their transactional God, does not match his experience. And he refuses to accept their argument regardless of how much this is a part of their tradition.”
The author of Job (whoever he was) represents the minority view within the history of Judaism, a view that’s been referred to as “anti-wisdom wisdom” because it dares to be so honest about life, faith, and relationship with God. Instead of beating people over the head with cause-and-effect promises about “blessings and curses” (which usually only benefit human leaders), it demands that people pay attention to what God is actually saying about Creation.
I think Enns is right when he says we still hear pastors today who preach what Job’s “friends” preached – the transactional theology that God explicitly rejects at the end of the Book of Job.
Jesus, like Job before him, also rejected transactional cause-and-effect theology in favour of a theology of humbleness (not humility as it’s currently understood, but a loving acceptance of who God is and who we are). A theology of humbleness (i.e. Jesus’ Kingdom teachings) means letting go of cherished traditional doctrines such as superiority over other people, superiority over other creatures, superiority over the planet itself. So it’s not a theology that’s especially helpful to anyone who suffers from status addiction.
No wonder it hasn’t been very popular.
Enn’s really opens up some areas to think about. Thanks for sharing.
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