Job and the Theodicy Problem, part 3
Animals: Tradition - Philosophy - Religion Article from All-Creatures.org

FROM

Stephen Kaufman, M.D., Christian Vegetarian Association (CVA)

Job and the Theodicy Problem, part 3

This essay continues an exploration of Godís goodness as depicted in the Book of Job. Job has suffered immense personal loss and then he suffers from painful sores over his entire body while his three friends sit quietly with him to grieve. After the requisite period of mourning, they commence conversing with Job.
 
A central theme of the series of the lengthy discourses is whether Job has sinned and deserved his ill-treatment. The friends are convinced that God is good and just, and thus Job must have sinned. Job responds forcefully that he has not sinned, and increasingly Job is determined to hold God to account for Jobís suffering.
 
Perhaps the friends have a point. Though the text records God declaring to Satan that Job is blameless (Job 1:8), let us consider how Job might be blameworthy. Job is determined to prevent misfortune from befalling himself and his family, going so far as to offer sacrifices on behalf of his children lest they commit a transgression. If Job is righteous in order to please God and thereby gain personal wealth and contentment, then Job is missing an essential component of righteous behavior Ė service to others. We are social creatures, yet we find ourselves in conflict with each other when we come together. If we are to live peaceable among each other, we must strive to serve each other, not just ourselves. If we are righteous towards others only to please God, then we will be inclined to cease being righteous when we experience misfortune, which is inevitable, because suffering and death are inevitable.
 
Whether or not Job is blameless, nonhuman beings who do not understand morality cannot be worthy of punishment. Yet it seems that God stands by while billions upon billions of innocent creatures are abused and murdered every year in the United States alone. Many advocates have difficulty reconciling the mistreatment of nonhumans with the notion of a good and active God. I think this reconciliation can be done, which will be focus of my upcoming essays on the Book of Job. 


Go on to: Job and the Theodicy Problem, part 4
Return to: Reflection on the Lectionary, Table of Contents 


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