Just God, Unjust World
By Dr. Brad Cole
The last two Bible studies for this school year will be on the book of Job. The central question in this book is one of theodicy which seeks to reconcile a God who is good, just and loving with a world of injustice, suffering and cruelty.
Job’s friends argue that God was punishing him for sin and that he should accept God’s punishment, confess his sin and allow God to refine him. Job did not claim to be perfect, but he refused to accept this as an explanation for his suffering.
The movie, “God on Trial” describes a group of Jews who are about to be gassed in a Nazi concentration camp. They decide to put God on trial for breaking his covenant with the Jews. During this trial they raise many of the questions that we will consider in the book of Job.
Different individuals make their arguments for or against God in this movie. This individual looks at the evidence recorded about God in the Bible and claims that he is not good:
Then there is a discussion of free will and the possibility that God punishes (or allows punishment) as a refining fire to purify his people. The insightful question is asked, “Who needs a God who suffers?”
The statement made here is very similar to what was claimed by Job’s friends, “We cannot know the mind of God. God is too great. All we can do is pray and have faith in the face of suffering…we cannot fathom the mind of God.” This answer was not at all satisfactory for these Jews who were about to die:
Another would conclude that there is no way that this terrible world can be explained and that if we use our reason it is clear that God was merely an invented idea for men to gain power:
Over the next few weeks we will consider the problem of reconciling a good and loving God with suffering, injustice and pain. One thing we can say with a certainty, it is very biblical to question God on this matter. The words of Habakkuk,
“O LORD, how long must I call for help before you listen, before you save us from violence? Why do you make me see such trouble? How can you stand to look on such wrongdoing? Destruction and violence are all around me, and there is fighting and quarreling everywhere. The law is weak and useless, and justice is never done. Evil people get the better of the righteous, and so justice is perverted…Why are you silent while evil men destroy people who are more righteous than they are? How can you treat people like fish or like a swarm of insects that have no ruler to direct them?” (Habakkuk 1:2-4,13,14)