Job and the Theodicy Problem, part 7 – The Faith of Christ
Animals: Tradition - Philosophy - Religion Article from


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

Job and the Theodicy Problem, part 7 – The Faith of Christ

The ancient Hebrew Scriptures were written at a certain time for a certain audience, and I think it is important to avoid imposing Christian thinking on that text. With that in mind, I think it is possible to offer a Christian response to the text, even if that response might not exactly reflect the original intentions of the text.
Jesus’ story has important parallels with that of Job. Jesus was innocent and righteous, yet God allowed (or perhaps even desired) him to suffer. Many Christians believe that “faith in Christ” is central to Christian belief. This believe often includes notions that Jesus’ death was ordained and necessary in order to “take away the sin of the world.” While I am not arguing that this view is incorrect, I do find it problematic, in part because it portrays Jesus as a scapegoat victim for the sin of humanity. Indeed, in my book Guided by the Faith of Christ, I argue that the “sin of the world” was scapegoating.
Whatever it means to have faith in Christ, I think Paul encouraged followers to adopt the faith of Christ. In the undisputed authentic letters of Paul (scholars generally agree that some letters were clearly written by Paul, some were written by followers of Paul, and the authorship of others is in dispute), Paul uses the Greek phrase pisteos Christou, a genitive construction which could be translated as either “faith in Christ” or “faith of Christ” (Romans 3:22 and 3:26, Galatians 2:16
and 3:22, and Philippians 3:9). In Romans 4:16, Paul used the same genitive construction to describe the faith of Abraham. Obviously, he meant the faith of Abraham rather than faith in Abraham, because neither the Hebrews nor anyone else regarded Abraham as divine. When Paul clearly wished to communicate “in,” he used the Greek word en. In Ephesians 1:15 and Colossians 1:4, en is used for faith in Christ, but neither passage states that faith in Christ is essential for justification. Further, scholars have doubts about Paul’s authorship of these two epistles. Therefore, even though many English Bibles have pisteos Christou translated as faith in Christ, in Paul’s undisputedly authentic letters, faith of Christ seems more appropriate. A difficulty is that translators, in trying to determine what particular passages mean, invariably impose their own theology and beliefs onto the text. There is no way for translators to know with any certainty what the original writers meant to convey. Translators who have been convinced that the New Testament aims to equate Jesus with God might have been prompted, perhaps mistakenly, to translate pisteos Christou as “faith in Christ.”
What was the “faith of Christ”? I’ll discuss this next essay.

Go on to: What is the “faith of Christ?”
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