Why Trust God?

Someone recently referred me to the book of Job and told me: I do not know God's plan, but I trust him. Let me comment. In the first place, it's obvious to any thinking person that Job is Hebraic poetry which was never meant to portray historical conversations between God, Job and Satan (remember, it was poetry! Do YOU know anyone who speaks extemporaneously in Hebraic parallelistic poetic rhymes?).

In this story Job was put to a test. His whole family suffered with him. And why? So that an all knowing God (and/or one who determines all events) could win a contest with an "accuser" (lit. heavenly prosecutor who was overzealous in doing his job as a fully credentialed member of the heavenly court). The fact is, "satan" shouldn't have been given the time of day.

Job was experimented on by a God who knew the end result to win a bet, a contest. Why? There's no indication that God really loved Job or his family. To test this, just ask yourself if you would allow "satan" to do what he did here to a loved one of YOURS, especially if you knew the outcome. There's no reason to do so. Life throws so many real tests at us we don't have to fabricate them. God shouldn't have allowed it, if he loved Job and his family.

Job was never asked beforehand whether or not he wished to participate, and neither was his family, most all of whom died. We punish people who experiment on others without prior consent, even if those we experiment on are prisoners. Josef Mengele is widely hailed as a monster for doing just that to Holocaust victims. But God gets a free ride here. Why? Because he's bigger than us....that's why. Not because he's better than us. He's a monster....a bully....a king who will do with his subjects as he sees fit. This kingship model comes directly from ancient views of kings who did whatever they wanted to with their subjects. But kings were feared in the ancient world...they were not usually loved. All they were concerned with was peace in their kingdoms. They were not generally concerned if their subjects loved them, since subjects could be put down. Kings were only afraid, or fearful, if there was potential for an uprising or an assassination, hence the Bible depicts God as fearful too.

And this kingship model was written by ancients to describe the God that Christians worship. Christians have been tricked into loving such a king because they believe this God-king, can do anything he wants to do, call it good, and then demand that his subjects worship him. But I say no. This God is merely bigger than us, if he exists, and that's all. He's the biggest boy on the block. He can push us around, cause us to suffer, and punish us all he wants to. But I will not be tricked into loving and/or worshipping this bully. If he exists, the best I can do is to fear him. But love him? I cannot do that.

15 comments:

Having Words said...

Insightful, John. This has been my take on the issue of God's goodness, also. If the biblical god should exist - and I don't believe he does - then he is merely great, but he isn't good. In fact, he's purely egocentric, and his love toward his "elect" is only a cover for his self-glorification.

I think you're insight into the mentality of the ancients is key; they feared their rulers, and that's why the fear of God is so central to the biblical message. While it is softened as one works their way toward the New Testament, it is still very much a part of the biblical mind. I have heard so many evangelical ministers state that fear is really "reverence" or "awe", and while those heart-attitudes certainly played roles in the ancient times, the biblical injunction toward fearing God is very literal and very pointed.

All that to state that we as a humanity have outpaced the biblical God's morality and goodness, and in order to still make him palatable, the sincere minister must recast the image of God into a benevolent father. John (the apostle, not you) stated that "God is love", and I believe he is right, that love somehow is at the center, but it's certainly not at the center of the Bible or the Christian god.

Keep up the wonderful work on this site. It is a good - and necessary - work that you do.

Rhology said...

Well, *I* think Mengele was OK in doing what he did.

Looks like it's Mengele and me and a few Nazis vs. John Loftus and much of modern civilisation.

Does might make right?

--ALAN

Hellbound Alleee said...

It was my understanding that God did those things to Job so that he would not trust Him to do what he expected. Job knew too much, and God proved that He wasn't predictable. Basically, that you shouldn't trust in observable fact, because God could go ape at any time.

Steven Carr said...

The unknown purposes defense to the problem of evil means that you cannot trust God.

He may be deceiving you for a higher purpose, sacrificing you so that a greater good can result.

Having Words said...

Playing off of Steve's point (assuming I understood him correctly), the unknown purposes defense is particularly frightening when one considers that the god of the Bible is after one thing above all: His glory.

So, to Reformed thinkers, and all Christians who believe God's glory is his highest aim, I have one question: How can you trust God won't screw with your welfare even in the next life if it might bring him more glory?

After all, he created humanity, bound them in sin, and then redeemed a striking minority and hardened or ignored the rest. If he will place the welfare of his earthly creation so lightly, why would we assume he will treat his spiritually adopted any better in heaven? What if on the "other side" your bondage or torment might somehow - by some "higher" purpose - bring him glory? You think just because you're in his presence you won't lose his favor? Remember Lucifer, anybody?

As Steve stated, the God of the Bible, he can't be trusted, for the same reason you can't trust certain people on earth - they're out for No. 1 first and foremost, and if anybody gets hurt in the process, so be it - as long as they get theirs.

DBULL said...

Job was experimented on by a God who knew the end result to win a bet, a contest. Why? There's no indication that God really loved Job or his family. To test this, just ask yourself if you would allow "satan" to do what he did here to a loved one of YOURS, especially if you knew the outcome.

Almighty God does not think the way we think, or act the way we act. He thinks in the context of eternal purpose. Most people think only in the context of the here and now, or at best the short lifespan that a human has on this earth. In the context of eternity many things that the Lord does make alot more sense, at least to me.

Gerard Charmley said...

And, as I once said to a wallah by the Nile, whether the Book of Job is poetry or not, what is its message?

Just saying 'it's poetry' will not get you out of engaging with the text, old man, any more than Jeff Davis could say of 'Uncle Tom's Cabin' 'it's a novel' and bung it in the bin.

John W. Loftus said...

In the context of eternity many things that the Lord does make alot more sense, at least to me.

In the context of my life here and now many things do no make alot of sense, at least to me. And based upon my experiences in life I just think there is no eternity from which God can exonerate himself for what he did to us here and now.

John W. Loftus said...

And, as I once said to a wallah by the Nile, whether the Book of Job is poetry or not, what is its message?

Well then, it didn't happen did it? And if it didn't happen then there are no historical conclusions to draw from it saying what God does. It would only have been written, from your perspective, by someone claiming to have a prophetic word from God. But many people claimed to see visions and dreams that they thought were from God, so what proof do we have that the message is from God? The fact that it resonates with an ancient people who thought the same way and accepted it from God doesn't prove anything to me.

But the message is that God can do to us whatever he wants to, call it good, and demand we don't complain about it, or else.

highlander65 said...

In light of this thread, can I suggest that anyone interested read Chapter 17 of "The Prince". The amount of times in the OT when God's subjects are said to fear Him, well it does seem as if Machiavelli had something important (and relevant to the bible) to say on this subject.

h65

Robert T. Permar said...

CONCERNING THE STORY OF JOB: I'm wondering if it occurred to anyone that if the story of Job is true, then what God allowed to happen to him is the moral equivalent of an earthly father "pimping" his child to a molester to be raped and abused(but not killed). So many well-intentioned(but deluded) Christians compared my story("The Problem of Paranoid Schizophrenia and a Good God") to Job's. I always responded with the fact that Job was not under the "New Covenant". According to New Testament theology, God literally becomes our "Father" when we accept his Son as savior. What kind of "Father" would allow to happen to Job, and ultimately, to me and still substantiate the claim that he loves us??

Robert T. Permar

DBULL said...

God literally becomes our "Father" when we accept his Son as savior. What kind of "Father" would allow to happen to Job, and ultimately, to me and still substantiate the claim that he loves us??

The Lord sees the end from the beginning. He also clearly states that we will suffer in this world. The Lord's purposes are not always clear to us, however we do know this. If a man lives for 80 years and suffers every year of his life, then he dies and spends the next 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000+ years in paradise, I highly doubt the 80 years of suffering on this earth will be worthy of consideration. Life is about more than the here and now. The Lord did not say "worship me in vain" nor did He say it would be without a price. The payoff for obedience to this all powerful all knowing God is mindblowing, but it takes faith, courage and perseverance to ever hope to lay hold of it. There appear to only be 2 choices for men, obey, suffer, then enter eternal paradise or disobey, suffer, and enter eternal punishment. Is there anything in this world worth anything anyhow? The rich and famous turn to drugs once they reach the pinnacles of worldly glory and power because they realize that everything they thought would make them happy was a lie. One thing only can satisfy a man's soul, and that is that man's creator. I appeal to you, this almighty God does love you and has fantastic things in store for you if you are willing to obey Him. Anything worthwhile in this life carries a heavy price, nothing that is worth anything comes easy. How much more eternal life. Cheers brothers~D

John W. Loftus said...

So, DBLL, what we're doing here is asking if your God even exists, given what we see him do to people on earth, and our conclusion is that he is a monster if he exists. Your answer is that all things will be made right in eternity. But that presupposes an eternal bliss, which we see no evidence for here and now while we suffer. Why is that? What about those who spend eternity apart from God?

paul said...

I'm going to give this a shot...what the heck.
Is ignorance implicit in the notion of trust? Would we have to trust if we knew something beyond a shadow of doubt?
So, we have to trust God because we cannot know or completely comprehend Him. Is it the old story of the blind man trying to discern the elephant?
Also, maybe God relates to people on a macro level. There is precedence...i.e. Christians form a body, many units making up the body of Christ. Take that outside the present and we are members of one body along with Paul and Peter, etc. Maybe I suffer because I'm the ass that God is putting the needle into to inject/effect a cure for something in the body. Now we see through a glass darkly, but then, when the whole body comes together we will see completely...meanwhile we have faith, hope and love.

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