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The Book of Job

(709 Posts)
Machadaynu Sun 30-Sep-12 20:20:50

I mentioned my thoughts on The Book of Job in the 'Back to Church' thread, and it was suggested that I start a new thread about it. So here it is.

The story of the book of Job is (to quote myself from the other thread):

God is chatting to Satan and mentions how Job is his best follower and would never lose faith. Satan essentially has a bet with God that Job would turn on God if his life wasn't so great. God, for some reason, accepts this deal with the proviso that Satan doesn't kill Job. It's not explained why God is chewing the fat with Satan rather than, say, destroying him completely, what with God being omnipotent and Satan being pure evil.

Anyway, Satan sends all sorts of illness to Job, kills all his animals, destroys his farm and kills his entire family. God, being omniscient, knew this would happen when he took on the bet - he knew Job would suffer, and he knew Job would remain true to him. Quite why he needed to prove this to Satan (pure evil, remember) is something of a mystery.

In the end God gives Job twice as many animals as before, and 10 new children, including 3 daughters that were prettier than the ones God allowed Satan to kill.

Christians see this as a story of how faith is rewarded (even if you're only suffering because God is trying to prove a point to Satan) I see it as a story of how God will use us as he sees fit, is insecure and vain and is apparently either unable, or unwilling, to resist being influenced by Satan.

I contrast God's treatment of Job, his wife and children - all "God's children" used as pawns in a game, and suffering terribly for it - and wonder what we'd make of a human father treating his children in such a way. I expect the MN opinion would be rather damning to say the least. Yet when God does it, it becomes an inspiring story, and God is love, apparently.

Christians, I am told, see the book as a lesson in why the righteous suffer. The answer, it seems, is that their all-loving, all-powerful, all-knowing, benevolent holy father is sometimes prone to abandoning people to the worst excesses of Satan to try and prove some kind of point to God knows who.

Seems odd to me. God does not show love in that story. God shows himself to be deeply unpleasant. Or not God.

What are your views on Job?

crescentmoon Thu 25-Oct-12 13:31:13

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

GrimmaTheNome Thu 25-Oct-12 13:58:49

Sounds to me like the pagan Arabs were about right - obviously you believe otherwise, there must be some reason for this?

headinhands Thu 25-Oct-12 18:38:07

Isn't what those verses portray just healthy skepticism? Wouldn't you think the same about Yahweh/biblical claims?

nightlurker Fri 26-Oct-12 18:09:17

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

headinhands Fri 26-Oct-12 19:04:54

Why is this life the time to 'learn faith'? Will we need it in the next?
If god is actively touching hearts and leading his believers how come there are so many different views within each religion even to the point of war? Wouldn't there be some consistency? Why would he lead his believers to hold so many different and opposing views?

crescentmoon Sat 27-Oct-12 10:56:45

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

sieglinde Sat 27-Oct-12 12:00:22

nailak, and OP, your view is also the trad Xtian view.

St Teresa of Avila once spoke to God on this topic - she got locutions...(direct speech from God).

'It's all going square again. Why, oh why?'

'I always treat my friends this way!'

'That's why you have so few!'

I love this story, but Carmelites also believe - and I too go with this - that it's a privilege to share in Christ's agony. (Warning - what follows will strike some as morbid and it certainly isn't rational, but when is love rational?) I have a friend who is severely asthmatic, and she told me she got through the bad nights by thinking that Christ's death was really suffocation, so it came to her as a privilege to share that.

Look at it this way. If one of my children or Dh is very sick, part of the misery is that I can't share the pain with them, take a little of it on myself. When we offer our suffering freely to Christ, we are getting to share his pain, including the utter and complete misery induced by its injustice.

Surely everyone feels a little of this confronted with unjust death and pain? Survivor guilt, almost? When I visited Auschwitz, I almost felt ashamed to be alive.

Clearly, this isn't a rational response, but nor is suffering, and nor is love.

madhairday Sat 27-Oct-12 12:42:03

I think that works for me kind of the other way too, sieglinde. I have lung disease and it helps me not so much to think that I am sharing in Christ's agony but that he is sharing in mine. He knows what it is like to not be able to breathe, to struggle for every breath, be wracked with pain. He suffered it all, took on every suffering and pain imaginable. To know he got in it with us says an awful lot to me. But yes there's something in sharing in it too.

hih I wasn't ignoring you, been in bed ill all week and just up to facing puter screens again smile Will have a think through wehn my brain is less addled and fuzzy grin

sieglinde Sat 27-Oct-12 13:12:51

Yes, absolutely, madhairday. The whole point of the incarnation and the atonement is a God who doesn't just sit on a cloud looking on at human suffering with an interested experession.

Jesus was not only crucified - a terrible, agonising and intentionally humiliating death.

He was captured, bound, sold, betrayed by his friends, laughed at and bullied, scourged almost to death - this was a normal part of Roman crucifixion - picked on, picked at, and treated with tyrannical injustice by the authorities, including the religious authorities, rejected by his own community, and made to live a life of scrambling, desperate poverty.

He lived in an outlying province of a great and brutal empire, a province slated to be ethnically cleansed of his own ethnicity shortly after his death, a province where the rulers probably didn't understand a word of his mother tongue. He lived in a backward part even of that, Galilee, which had a rough regional accent that other Jews found difficult (like Glaswegian). He wasn't a Roman citizen and so had few legal rights.

He lived among revolutionaries so violent that they later made it a condition of loyalty that their followers cut off one of their fingers. He was so totally NOT a natural messianic candidate for his people that most of them didn't believe in it (which is why the idea that he never existed but was invented is ridiculous). And yet everyone who met him seems to have been touched by him. He sided with outsiders against the majority, with those shunned by others, and he may have said the first kind words some of them ever heard. Can we do that, when we suffer?

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