Monday, October 01, 2007

An Atheist Interviews Me on the Book of Job


I had the wonderful opportunity yesterday to be interviewed on the A Christian and an Atheist podcast, by a thoughtful and courteous atheist named Emery. It was a great conversation that I thoroughly enjoyed.

If any of you have been dying to hear what my voice sounds like, this is your lucky day! I apologize in advance for the less-than-stellar audio quality coming from my end - it's the fault of my slow DSL connection. Download the mp3 here.

For some reason the show has me wrestling with the responsibility of words. One can now directly play back statements of mine on very deep matters that were made live. Thinking back on what I said, I think even now there are things I might put differently. But that's how spoken words are - they are often a little clumsy - so I suppose we all need to show each other grace and go out of our way to really try to understand someone before judgment.

Comments:
Hi, I really enjoyed listening to the podcast. You did a nice job (no pun intended). :)
 

I'm listening to your interview and I have to say, good job on facing one of the most difficult places in the Bible.

The part about "would God conceivably make this wager again with Satan, over and over again?" made me think about how God never does things twice in the same way. (This is something C.S. Lewis himself noticed.)
I think part of the point of the story of Job is that God was vindicated in his faith in men. And he wouldn't need to prove it again. God wasn't doing this to pass the time with Satan or have fun. He made a point and once God proves himself, why would he have to prove himself again? Satan realized this, I think, and graciously backed down.
Any thoughts on this?
Fascinating stuff, I'm really enjoying listening :)

~marji
 

Welxome, Marji4x. It's cool to see you're also a flash junkie.

I actually thought Emery's observation that the accusation could be made again at any time one of the more interesting points he made. I remember saying before that Satan has a point which is hard to take as seriously as we ought to. We can all to easily presume ourselves and others to be good when we are merely happy.

But the ultimate vindication of man comes not through Job, but through the one he typifies. Here the heavenly beings look on a human being and say:

Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.

It is in him, his obedience unto death, his suffering on behalf of humanity, his righteousness, that we ourselves are made right with God, and share in his resurrection and glory and power. It is in Christ that our faith in God and God's faith in man come together in the same person, once and for all. And it is in taking up our cross, and following him, that we show ourselves to be his disciples, so that he is not ashamed to call us fellow human beings brothers.
 

Like you, I was stunned by the Rabbi's conclusion that God is not in control and Emory's impression that God was making excuses to Job!

I have to wonder: did the Rabbi come to the text already believing that God is not all powerful and he found the evidence there? Conversely, do we come to the text assuming that God is all powerful and find the evidence there? hmm...
 

Hi Amtog,

I think the evidence is on our side with this one - though I wouldn't go so far as to say that Job outlines a doctrine of divine omnipotence. It's much more poetic than that, but it does say that God's power, when related to us and anything we can imagine, might as well be infinite.

Take this little bit about Leviathan:

Behold, the hope of a man is false;
he is laid low even at the sight of him.
No one is so fierce that he dares to stir him up.
Who then is he who can stand before me?
Who has first given to me, that I should repay him?
Whatever is under the whole heaven is mine.


To interpret this as an excuse boggles my mind. If anything, God is bragging - and the only reason it isn't hubris is that...well...he's God.

Job's response is also telling:

I know that you can do all things,
and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.
I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear,
but now my eye sees you;
therefore I despise myself,
and am comforted in dust and ashes.


Job isn't saying that he understands that it's rough to be God after all - what with having to wrestle the Leviathan and all. He is overcome by the glory and grandeur of God. Thus he humbles himself and is silenced (the irony, of course, being that this whole trial was to exalt Job's name to high heaven).
 

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