The Book of Job

The book has always been  understood as a theodicy, and I read it that way (incidentally, I haven’t read it in quite some time, so this whole post if off memory – if a re-read prompts me to reconsider anything I write, I’ll post it).

So what is God’s explanation, at the end of the day, for Job’s troubles? I find it a fascinatingly telling one. God basically tells Job “Stop questioning, because the answer doesn’t matter. If you trust me, then you know that everything I do has a purpose. Knowing what it is is past your pay grade. Just know that I am a good and just Lord, and trust me”.

And so God gives Job double of everything he had before (pointing out that this doesn’t get rid of Job’s grief from his previous losses is missing the point of the symbolism), to prove His point – that even if Job doesn’t know how things are going to work out or why they’re happening it doesn’t mean that God isn’t going to work things out, like He has promised us.

Aquinas (and I’m sure he worked off of Job) gave basically the same answer to the problem of evil, which was roughly this: Who cares? We know God is good. Thus any evil that exists has to have an explanation. What it is is irrelevant. The important thing is that it exists, and we know it.

And that’s always been my understanding of the problem of evil. I don’t get it. I don’t get evil. I’ve had friends (you must remember that roughly half of my friends, and I, are still teenagers) rail against the Heavens because of horrible things that have happened to them. Legitimately horrible, not just melodrama. Sometimes it really is hard to see God behind all of that. But He’s there, and He’s just. Things got better for Job, too.

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5 Responses to The Book of Job

  1. Ilíon says:

    Yes, God is good — it is reason itself that teaches us this, for it is logically impossible, and thus utterly impossible, for “the ground of all being” to be other than good: it is logically impossible for God to be other than Goodness Itself.

    So, *whenever* anyone is trying to invoke “evil” to cavil against God, that person is being irrational and illogical. So, the only real question is: “Does that person’s irrationality (at this instance) grow out of emotionalism and ignorance, or is it knowing and willful?” That is, is it due to error or to deliberate/malicious sin?

    • That’s exactly my understanding of the matter. Approaching evil as a problem is completely off base. It is merely a question we don’t, and don’t have to, know the answer to, since reason already teaches us that God is good.

      • Ilíon says:

        The “problem of evil” is a problem only to those who refuse to submit themselves to the disciple of reason.

        At best, and this is faint praise, when people call upon “evil” as their witness against God, they are not engaging in reasoned argument, but in childish emotionalism: essentially a temper tantrum. At the other extreme, it is open intellectual dishonesty.

        God is good. Reason tells us this; reason tells us that God cannot be other than good. Your pain, or someone else’s pain that you find to be a handy excuse, is not new evidence that can call into question what reason has shown.

  2. Crude says:

    Book of Job has long been one of my favorite books of the Bible, and favorite stories overall. People typically have a negative understanding of the end, but for me it was actually eye-opening.

  3. G. Rodrigues says:

    Like Crude, the Book of Job is also one of my favorites. *If* it is to be read as a Theodicy, then I am left in a somewhat uncomfortable position, because the book, or God in the book — and God’s rhetoric from the Whirlwind is, as one would expect, among the most powerful ever penned in the History of Literature — explains nothing and justifies even less.

    And then again, the Problem of Evil never bothered me much. Mainly, for two orders of reasons: first, it is the early awareness that my coming to be necessitated a History strewn with cadavers, misery and pain. Should I curse God for having created me? Or take the curse to its logical conclusion and slash my wrists? Second, death, suffering, pain and all the vast parade of human misery, *ultimately* has no meaning at all, as they were redeemed by Christ and will be consumated by Him. And *that* is, or what least it strikes me as, the real lesson of Job.

    note: I also like D. B. Hart in Tsunami and Theodicy very much.

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