God: The Bastard
by Jonas Weaver
The following post is a jumping off point from a post I’ve previously linked to (so if you haven’t read it you should since my meditation on this passage finds it origin in his thoughts, I’m derivative I know) at Matt McCracken’s blog in which he points out the curious phrase in the book of Job where it states that Job’s friends and family “…came to him all his brothers and sisters and all who had known him before, and they ate bread with him in his house; they showed him sympathy and comforted him for all the evil that the Lord had brought upon him; and each of them gave him a piece of money and a gold ring [Emphasis McCraken’s].”
The passage does what too many evangelicals are afraid to do with the book of Job: foist responsibility of all the evil done (and it was evil) upon God. Too often when Job is being dealt with we say God allowed this evil to happen. But really? As if that absolves God of any responsibility for what occurred. The text, it seems, makes things less simple. More bluntly: the text itself clearly states that God had an active role in bringing evil upon Job.
(Note: this is not some singular cherry picking because the context is within a larger framework of a book, a story which clearly affirms the statement in this passage.)
What is this passage even about? Simple answer: God does evil things. End of story. Of course every Calvinist agrees with this statement (or should if they have any desire for intellectual consistency) but most people don’t like the idea. For good reason, even. But let’s take a moment and consider that earlier in Job the main character gives to God the attribute of being the one “gives and takes away” and then in Lamentations we see the poet decrying God’s apparent injustices. This type of mourning and anger permeates the Psalms and can even be found in the cry of Jesus upon the cross. What are we to do with this? In all honesty I’m not sure. I want to say God is not evil but God obviously then goes on to commit the greatest atrocity by planning and enacting via human agency the murder of his own son. So, maybe the odd beauty, the disturbing nature of the cross is that it forever separates us from God all the while bringing us near?
I’d love to hear your thoughts!