The Un(der)told Story: The Muslim Brotherhood’s Jihad Against the Coptic Church at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

This lecture took place in 2013 at the Carl F H Henry Center for Theological Understanding at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. VIDEO by Henry Center

NEW from D A Carson – 4 video lectures on the book of Hebrews – Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

D A Carson at TEDSPhoto from video lecture

Each video is one lecture on the book of Hebrews from Dr. Carson’s Spring 2013 Acts, Pauline, and General Epistles course at the Deerfield campus of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. In these four lectures, Dr. Carson covers the basic questions involved in interpreting Hebrews such as authorship, date of composition, and intended audience, as well as covering its content and focusing in particular on major themes of Christology. Hebrews is unique in the New Testament in its explanation of Christ’s high priestly work and its extended application of Yom Kippur imagery to Jesus’ death and resurrection. Dr. Carson highlights the unique, once-for-all quality of Jesus’ sacrificial death as presented by Hebrews as well as the reality of Christ’s ongoing high priestly ministry on behalf of believers.

– See more at: http://news.tiu.edu

LECTURE 1 of 4

In the first lecture of this four-part series on the Book of Hebrews, Dr. Carson looks at the introduction to the book, the significance of the idea of “better,” and explores Old and New Testament occurrences of the phrase “You are my Son; today I have become your Father.”

For LECTURES 2, 3 and 4 click here – http://divinity.tiu.edu/media-resources/video/teds-lecture-series-d-a-carson/. You will also have the option of downloading the text for each video in pdf form, as well as downloading each video to iTunes.

Lecture 2 of 4 – Carrying on in the Book of Hebrews, Dr. Carson highlights the Biblical trajectory of entering God’s rest, walks through understanding passages in a moralizing and typological way, discusses how to preach particular passages in Hebrews, and points out what he sees as the definition of a true Christian.

Lecture 3 of 4 – Dr. Carson’s third lecture on Hebrews focuses on perseverance and preservation of the saints, with discussions on the doctrine of Christian assurance and its implications for pastoral ministry and evangelism. He also begins to lay the groundwork for the next lecture on the king-priest figure of Melchizedek.

Lecture 4 of 4 – In the final lecture on Hebrews, Dr. Carson digs into what the Old and New Testament writers say about priesthood, law, covenant, and sacrifice, and the “once-for-all” effect of the death of Jesus.

D A Carson – Going Beyond Cliches: Christian Reflections on Suffering and Evil

d a carsonSee an in depth article below video, with link to the full article on the Gospel Coalition website:

Lecture – Dr D.A. Carson – given Saturday, April 27, 2013 at the Lanier Theological Library in Houston, TX. Topic:Going Beyond Cliches: Christian Reflections on Suffering and Evil.

Dr. D. A. Carson is a Research Professor at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, IL. He came to Trinity from the faculty of Northwest Baptist Theological Seminary in Vancouver, British Columbia, where he served for two years as academic dean. He also taught at Northwest Baptist Theological College, Richmond College, and Central Baptist Seminary in Toronto.

Dr. Carson’s areas of expertise include biblical theology, the historical Jesus, postmodernism, pluralism, Greek grammar, Johannine theology, Pauline theology, and questions of suffering and evil.

He is a member of the Tyndale Fellowship for Biblical Research, the Society of Biblical Literature, the Evangelical Theological Society, the Canadian Society of Biblical Studies, and the Institute for Biblical Research. Dr. Carson was founding chair of the GRAMCORD Institute, a research and educational institution designed to develop and promote computer-related tools for research into the Bible, focusing especially on the original languages. He is also a founding council member of The Gospel Coalition.

Carson was born in Montreal, Quebec, but grew up in Drummondville, Quebec. He earned his B.S. (1967) in chemistry and mathematics from McGill University, his M.Div. from Central Baptist Seminary (Toronto), and his Ph.D. (1975) in the New Testament from the University of Cambridge. Carson married his wife Joy in 1975. They reside in Libertyville, Illinois, and have two children.

Carson is the author or coauthor of over 50 books, including the award-winning book The Gagging of God (2010) and An Introduction to the New Testament (2005). He is general editor of Telling the Truth: Evangelizing Postmodern’s (2002) and Worship by the Book (2002). His other books include, Exegetical Fallacies (1996), Hermeneutics, Authority, and Canon (2005), and also The Intolerance of Tolerance (2012). He has served as a pastor and is an active guest lecturer in church and academic settings around the world.

Six Pillars to Support a Christian Worldview for Stability Through Suffering

  1. Insights from the beginning of the Bible’s storyline
  2. Insights from the end of the Bible’s storyline
  3. Insights from the place of innocent suffering
  4. Insights from the mystery of providence
  5. Insights from the centrality of the incarnation and the cross
  6. Insights from taking up our cross (insights from the persecuted global church)

VIDEO by fleetwd1 for more information http://www.laniertheologicallibrary.org/

Going Beyond Cliches:

Christian Reflections on Suffering and Evil

Here is a very helpful article that outlines Carson’s 6 pillars of a Christian view of suffering – http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs In the blog post, Matt Smethurst, of the Gospel Coalition lists the 6 pillars:

After differentiating „natural” evil (e.g., tornados), „malicious” evil (e.g., sexual assault), and „accidental” evil (e.g., a bridge collapse)—and observing that this isn’t a uniquely Christian challenge („No matter your worldview, you must face the reality of suffering and evil”)—Carson proceeds to reveal the six pillars.

  1. Insights from the beginning of the Bible’s storyline. Carson observes: „What Jesus seems to presuppose is that all the sufferings of the world—whether caused by malice [as in Luke 13:1-3] or by accident [as in Luke 13:4-5]—are not peculiar examples of judgment falling on the distinctively evil, but rather examples of the bare, stark fact that we are all under sentence of death.”
  2.  Insights from the end of the Bible’s storyline. The believer’s ultimate hope is that the created order—now so disordered by the effects of sin—will one day be set right (Rom. 8:18-25)
  3. Insights from the place of innocent suffering. „Job 42 is to the rest of Job what Revelation 21-22 is to the rest of Revelation,” Carson observes. „Not only is justice done, it’s also seen to be done.”
  4. Insights from the mystery of providence. Here Carson sketches a brief defense of compatibilism in which he demonstrates two scriptural tensions: (1) God is absolutely sovereign, but his sovereignty never functions to mitigate human responsibility, and (2) men and women are morally responsible creatures, but their moral responsibility never makes God absolutely contingent.
  5. Insights from the centrality of the incarnation and the cross. God was not blindsided by Calvary (Acts 2:234:27-28).
  6. Insights from taking up our cross (learning from the persecuted global church). Though we often think of suffering primarily in terms of „cancer or old age or poverty or war,” Carson notes, the New Testament texts that most commonly speak of suffering have to do with Christian suffering—”and they are remarkable” (see, for example, Acts 5:40-42;Rom. 8:17Phil. 1:293:101 Pet. 2:20-23). As he observes, „There have been more Christian conversions since 1800 than in the previous 1,800 years combined, and there have been more Christain martyrs since 1800 than in the previous 1,800 years combined. And to this you have been called [1 Pet. 2:21].”A robust theology of suffering is necessary but not sufficient, Carson insists, for at least two additional attitudes characterize mature Christians: (1) they admit their guilt before God and cry to him for renewal and revival (see, for example, Neh. 8-9), and (2) they are quick to talk about the sheer goodness of God.

How Could A Good God Allow Suffering?

This video is from the Gospel Coalition LA Regional Conference on November 6, 2010. D. A. Carson (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He has written or edited more than forty-five books, including An Introduction to the New Testament, The Gagging of God, and The Gospel according to John. VIDEO by WA BibleDepartment

Infallibility vs. Inerrancy of the Bible (Essential Reading)

photo form news.tiu.edu

This is a very helpful article, written by Kevin J. Vanhoozer is currently Research Professor of Systematic Theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Deerfield, Illonois. The article is from http://www.theologynetwork.org Dr. Vanhoozer shows that the Word of God, as it is written in the Bible can use the common language of the day, (by employing metaphors) without committing to its literal truth. as he shows in the example of the ‘rising sun’ metaphor:

In speaking of the sun rising, does not the Bible make a scientific mistake? To this objection it may be replied that using the common language of the day is not the same as committing oneself to its literal truth. One must not confuse a social convention with a scientific affirmation. To say that the sun rises is to employ a metaphor – one, moreover, that is true to human experience. The objection proves too much: if the inspired authors have used ancient thought forms that led to scientific errors, would not these same thought forms have led to errors in matters of faith and practice too? After all, ‘To err is human’ – or is it? Though proverbial wisdom equates humanity with fallibility , the paradigm of Christ’s sinless life shows that the one concept need not follow from the other. God’s Word, we may conclude, can take on human form -incarnate, inscripturate – without surrendering its claim to sinlessness and truth.

Read the full article below the photo:

photo by godzdogz.op.org

The Inerrancy of Scripture

Whereas inspiration concerns the origin of the Bible’s authority, inerrancy describes its nature. By inerrancy we refer not only to the Bible’s being ‘without error’ but also to its inability to err (we might helpfully illustrate this point by comparing it to the distinction between Jesus’ sinlessness or being without sin, on the one hand, and his impeccability or inability to sin on the other). Inerrancy, positively defined, refers to a central and crucial property of the Bible, namely, its utter truthfulness.

The basis for the doctrine of biblical inerrancy is located both in the nature of God and in the Bible’s teaching about itself. First, if God is perfect – all-knowing, all-wise, all-good – it follows that God speaks the truth. God does not tell lies; God is not ignorant. God’s Word is thus free from all error arising either from conscious deceit or unconscious ignorance. Such is the unanimous confession of the Psalmist, the prophets, the Lord Jesus and the apostles. Second, the Bible presents itself as the Word of God written.

Thus, in addition to its humanity (which is never denied), the Bible also enjoys the privileges and prerogatives of its status as God’s Word. God’s Word is thus wholly reliable, a trustworthy guide to reality, a light unto our path.

If the biblical and theological basis of the doctrine is so obvious, however, why have some in our day suggested that the inerrancy of the Bible is a relatively recent concept? Is it true, as some have argued, that the doctrine of inerrancy was ‘invented’ in the nineteenth century at Princeton by B B Warfield and Charles Hodge and is therefore a novelty in the history of theology? In answer to this question, it is important to remember that doctrines arise only when there is need for them. Doctrine develops when something implicit in the faith is denied; false teaching provokes an explicit rebuttal. This is as true of inerrancy as it is of the doctrines of the Trinity, or of justification by faith. The notion of the Bible’s truthfulness was implicitly assumed throughout the history of the church.

Theologians were only reflecting the view of the biblical authors themselves. Jesus himself quotes Scripture and implies that its words are true and trustworthy – wholly reliable. The New Testament authors share and reflect this high estimate of the Old Testament. The question is whether this ‘high estimate’ of Scripture pertained to its reliability in matters of faith and salvation only or whether it involved a trust in all matters on which the Bible speaks, including science and history. One difficulty with this question is that it is anachronistic: it reflects the concerns of our times (including the dubious dichotomy between fact and value) rather than that of the Fathers and Reformers. With regard to the Fathers, we know that they held to the divine authorship of Scripture. Behind the many voices of the human authors is the voice of the Holy Spirit, the ultimate author of Scripture. While some used this as an excuse to search for hidden truths through allegorical interpretation, if anything the tendency was to ascribe too much truth to Scripture rather than too little. For the Fathers, to suggest that there were errors in the Bible would have been unthinkable. Augustine, for instance, wrote that biblical authority would be overthrown if the authors had stated things that were not true. Though Augustine warned Christians not to hide their ignorance of scientific fact by easy appeals to Scripture, he also believed that the biblical writers did not make any scientific errors. True scientific discoveries will always be capable of being reconciled with the Scriptures. Augustine is at pains to show that there are no contradictions, either between one part of the Bible and another, or between the Bible and truth gleaned from elsewhere. Whatever we think of such attempts, they are at least compelling evidence of the widespread Patristic presupposition of the Bible’s truthfulness.
The Reformers similarly affirmed the truthfulness of the Bible. There is some debate among scholars whether Luther and Calvin limited Scripture’s truthfulness to matters of salvation, conveniently overlooking errors about lesser matters. It is true that Luther and Calvin are aware of apparent discrepancies in Scripture and that they often speak of ‘errors’. However, a closer analysis seems to indicate that the discrepancies and errors are consistently attributed to copyists and translators, not to the human authors of Scripture, much less to the Holy Spirit, its divine author. Calvin was aware that Paul’s quotations of the Old Testament (e.g Rom 10:6 and Dt 30:12) were not always exact, nor always exegetically sound, but he did not infer that Paul had thereby made an error. On the contrary, Calvin notes that Paul is not giving the words of Moses different sense so much as applying them to his treatment of the subject at hand. Indeed, Calvin explicitly denies the suggestion that Paul distorts Moses’ words.

Doctrines are formulated in order to refute error and to preserve revealed truth. Just as biblical authority only became part of Protestant confessions in the sixteenth century to counter the idea that tradition is the supreme authority of the church, so the doctrine of biblical inerrancy was only explicitly formulated to counter explicit denials of the Bible’s truthfulness. These denials arose about the same time as did modernity and the distinctively modern way of interpreting the Bible: biblical criticism. Many so-called ‘enlightened’ thinkers of the eighteenth century accepted the Deists’ belief that the source of truth was reason rather than revelation. Increasingly, the Bible came to be studied like any other book, on naturalistic assumptions that ruled out the possibility of divine action in history. Accordingly, biblical critics grew sceptical of Scripture’s own account of its supernatural origin and sought to reconstruct the historical reality. Advances in knowledge and a changed view of the world were thought to necessitate a rethinking of biblical authority. Historical-critics argued that the authors of the Bible were children of their age, limited by the worldviews that prevailed when they wrote. It was against this backdrop of widespread suspicion of the supernaturalist appearance of Scripture, and the virtually taken-for-granted denial of divine authorship, that the doctrine of biblical inerrancy, implicit from the first, was explicitly formulated (e.g. by Warfield and Hodge). What is explicitly expressed in the doctrine of biblical inerrancy, however, is not a theological novelty so much as an articulation of what was implicitly, and virtually always, presupposed through most of church history.
What then does the doctrine of biblical inerrancy explicitly articulate? We can refine our provisional definition of inerrancy in terms of truthfulness as follows: The inerrancy of Scripture means that Scripture, in the original manuscripts and when interpreted according to the intended sense, speaks truly in all that it affirms. These specifications, by identifying the conditions under which Scripture speaks truly, do not hasten the death of inerrancy by qualification; they rather acknowledge two crucial limitations that enable believers to keep the doctrine in its proper perspective. Let us examine these two qualifications in more detail.

First: the Bible speaks truly ‘in the original manuscripts’. We have already seen that the Reformers were able to affirm the truthfulness of the Bible and to acknowledge errors due to faulty translation or transmission. To the objection that we do not now possess the original manuscripts, it must be pointed out that textual critical studies have brought us extremely close to the original text. The relatively small number of textual variations do not for the most part affect our ability to recognize the original text. At the same time, it is important not to ascribe inerrancy to the copies of the originals, since these are the products of an all-too human process of transmission.

The second qualification is just as important: ‘when interpreted according to the intended sense’. It is often tempting to claim the same authority for one’s interpretations as for the biblical text itself. The thrust of the doctrine of inerrancy, however, like that of sola scriptura, is to stress the distinction between the Word of God and the words of men. Interpretations of the Bible fall under the category ‘words of men’. It is thus important not to ascribe inerrancy to our interpretations. To the objection that we do not possess the correct interpretation, we must appeal not to inerrancy but to the perspicuity of Scripture. What conflicts there are about biblical interpretation ultimately must be ascribed to the fallible interpreter, not to the infallible text.

Does inerrancy do justice to the humanity of the Scriptures? Some critics of inerrancy have suggested that God had to ‘accommodate’ his message to the language and thought-forms of the day in order effectively to communicate. In taking on forms of human language and thought, does God’s communication simultaneously take on outmoded views of the world or of human nature? For example, could God speak truthfully of the sun ‘rising’ when he knows full well that the sun does not move? In speaking of the sun rising, does not the Bible make a scientific mistake? To this objection it may be replied that using the common language of the day is not the same as committing oneself to its literal truth. One must not confuse a social convention with a scientific affirmation. To say that the sun rises is to employ a metaphor – one, moreover, that is true to human experience. The objection proves too much: if the inspired authors have used ancient thought forms that led to scientific errors, would not these same thought forms have led to errors in matters of faith and practice too? After all, ‘To err is human’ – or is it? Though proverbial wisdom equates humanity with fallibility , the paradigm of Christ’s sinless life shows that the one concept need not follow from the other. God’s Word, we may conclude, can take on human form -incarnate, inscripturate – without surrendering its claim to sinlessness and truth.

Does inerrancy therefore mean that every word in Scripture is literally true? There has been a great deal of confusion on this point, both in the media and in academia. It should first be noted that mere words are neither true nor false; truth is a property of statements. Second, those who oppose biblical inerrancy have all too often contributed to the confusion by caricaturing the notion of literal truth. Critics of inerrancy typically speak of ‘literal truth’ when what they really mean is ‘literalistic truth’. Defenders of inerrancy must take great care to distinguish the notion of literal truth from the kind of literalistic interpretation that runs roughshod over the intent of the author and the literary form of the text.

Perhaps the best way to resolve this confusion is to begin at the other end. What counts as an error? If I say that my lecture lasts an hour, when in fact it lasts only fifty-nine minutes, have I made an error? That depends on your expectation and on the context of my remark. In everyday conversation round figures are perfectly acceptable; no one would accuse me of getting my figures wrong. In other contexts, however, a different level of precision is required. A BBC television producer, for instance, would need to know the exact number of minutes. The point is that what counts as an error depends upon the kind of precision or exactness that the reader has a right to expect. ‘Error’ is thus a context-dependent notion. If I do not claim scientific exactitude or technical precision, it would be unjust to accuse me of having erred.

Indeed, too much precision (‘my lecture is fifty-nine minutes and eight seconds long’) can be distracting and actually hinder clear communication. Let us define error, then, as a failure to make good on or to redeem one’s claims. The Bible speaks truly because it makes good its claims. It thus follows that we should first determine just what kind of claims are being made before too quickly ruling ‘true’ or ‘false’. If error is indeed a context-dependent notion, those who see errors in Scripture would do well first to establish the context of Scripture’s claims. To interpret the Bible according to a wooden literalism fails precisely to attend to the kinds of claims Scripture makes. To read every sentence of the Bible as if it were referring to something in the world, or to a timeless truth, may be to misread much of Scripture. Just as readers need to be sensitive to metaphor (few would react to Jesus’ claim in Jn 10:9 ‘I am the door’ by searching for a handle) so readers must be sensitive to literary genre (e.g. to the literary context of biblical statements).

Is every word in Scripture literally true? The problem with this question is its incorrect (and typically unstated) assumption that ‘literal truth’ is always literalistic – a matter of referring to history or to the ‘facts’ of nature. It is just such a faulty assumption – that the Bible always states facts – that leads certain wellmeaning defenders of inerrancy desperately to harmonize what appear to be factual or chronological discrepancies in the Gospels. In the final analysis, what was new about the Princetonians’ view of Scripture was not their understanding of the Bible’s truthfulness but rather their particular view of language and interpretation, in which the meaning of the biblical text was the fact – historical or doctrinal – to which it referred. Their proof-texting was more a product of their view of language and interpretation than of their doctrine of Scripture.

What if the intent of the evangelists was not to narrate history with chronological precision? What if the evangelists sometimes intended to communicate only the content of Jesus’ teaching rather than his very words? Before extending the Bible’s truth to include history or astronomy, or restricting to matters of salvation for that matter, we must first ask, ‘What kind of literature is this?’ The question of meaning should precede the question of truth. We must first determine what kind of claim is being made before we can rule on its truthfulness. The point of biblical apocalyptic is quite distinct from the point of Jesus’ parables, from that of the Gospels themselves, or of Old Testament wisdom. We must, therefore, say that the literal sense of Scripture is its literary sense: the sense the author intended to convey in and through a particular literary form. Inerrancy means that every sentence, when interpreted correctly (i.e. in accordance with its literary genre and its literary sense), is wholly reliable.

The older term to express biblical authority – infallibility – remains useful. Infallibility means that Scripture never fails in its purpose. The Bible makes good on all its claims, including its truth claims. God’s Word never leads astray. It is important to recall that language may be used for many different purposes, and not to state facts only. Inerrancy, then, is a subset of infallibility: when the Bible’s purpose is to make true statements, it does this too without fail. Yet the Bible’s other speech acts – warnings, promises, questions – are infallible too.

The Bible’s own understanding of truth stresses reliability. God’s Word is true because it can be relied upon – relied upon to make good its claim and to accomplish its purpose. We may therefore speak of the Bible’s promises, commands, warnings, etc. as being ‘true’, inasmuch as they too can be relied upon. Together, the terms inerrancy and infallibility remind us that the Word of God is wholly reliable not only when it speaks, but also when it does the truth.

D. A. Carson – Job: Mystery and Faith (5) Job’s Happy Ending

I am indebted to Adrian for pointing me to this treaty on Job. Any dedicated believer, who has suffered deeply, or has seen a loved one suffer is fascinated with the mechanics of Job’s dialogue with God in the midst of his own deep suffering and the wisdom, peace, and understanding that can be derived from it. You can read this article in it’s entirety, in pdf form here (18 pages) –

http://s3.amazonaws.com/tgc-documents/carson/2000_Job_mystery_and_faith.pdf

d a carsonD. A. Carson is Research Professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois. He is the author of numerous commentar- ies and monographs, and is one of this country’s foremost New Testament scholars. Among his books are Divine Sovereignty and Human Responsibility (John Knox Press, 1981; reprint, Baker, 1994) and How Long, O Lord?: Per- spectives on Suffering and Evil (Baker, 1990).

The topic is divided into
  1. READ Job chapters 1 – 3 Job’s Sufferings and Initial Reaction here
  2. READ Job chapters 4 – 31  Job’s Plaintive Outrage and His Miserable Comforters 
  3. READ Job chapter 32 – 37 Job and Elihu
  4. READ Job chapter 38 – 42:6 Job and God 
  5. READ Job chapter 42:7-16 Job’s Happy Ending (article below)

Here are some excerpts from the last section:

photo www.bibleartists.wordpress.com Job’s Despair by Blake

Job chapter 42:7-16 Job’s Happy Ending

These verses may be divided into two parts. The first, which we have already glanced at, reports God’s wrath with Eliphaz and his two friends for not speak- ing of God what was right, as Job did (42:7-8). They are required to offer sacrifice to God, and Job, whom they have despised and abused, must pray for them, for God will accept his prayers for them (and, by implication, not their own!).

In the second part (vv. 10-17), after Job prays for his friends, the Lord makes him prosperous again. His siblings and acquaintances gather around him and provide gifts, presumably to help him start up again. He sires another family, seven more sons and three more daughters, and gains herds twice the size of what he had before. No women were more beautiful than his daughters, and Job left them an inheritance along with their brothers—further evidence of Job’s com- passionate and enlightened treatment of those traditionally squeezed to the periph- ery of life (cf. chap. 31). He lived to a ripe old age, seeing his children and their chil- dren to the fourth generation. Eventually he died, “old and full of years”—an epi- taph reserved for the choicest or most favored of God’s servants (Abraham [Gen 25:8], Isaac [Gen 35:29], David [1 Chron 29:28], and Jehoiada the priest [2 Chron 24:15]).

If some critics are displeased with God’s answer to Job out of the storm, even more are incensed by this “happy ending.” The story, they argue should have ended with Job’s repentance. Whether he was restored is irrelevant; in any case it is untrue to the experience of many, who suffer at length without reprieve. To end the story this way makes the doctrine of retribution basically right after all. The conclusion is therefore anticlimactic at best, contradictory at worst.

This is, I think, a shallow reading of the text. Perhaps the following reflections will help unpack the purpose of this conclusion a little:

(1) We must beware of our own biases. One of the reasons why many people are dissatisfied with this ending is because in the contemporary literary world ambiguity in moral questions is universally revered, while moral certainty is almost as universally despised. The modern mood enjoys novels and plays where the rights and wrongs get confused, where every decision is a mixture of right and wrong, truth and error, where heroes and antiheroes reverse their roles.

Why this infatuation with ambiguity? It is regarded as more mature. Clear-cut answers are written off as immature. The pluralism of our age delights in moral ambiguity—but only as long as it costs nothing. Devotion to contemporary moral ambiguity is extraordinarily self-centered. It demands freedom from God so that it can do whatever it wants. But when the suffering starts the same self-centered focus on my world and my interests, rather ironically, wants God to provide answers of sparkling clarity.

(2) Throughout his excruciating suffering, Job has demonstrated that he serves the Lord out of a pure heart. True, he has said some stupid things and has been rebuked; but at no point does he simply curse God and turn his back on Him. Even his demand that God present himself before Job and give an answer is the cry of the believer seeking to find out what on earth God is doing. Even while sitting in the ashpit, Job trusts God enough to express extraordinary confidence in him, and for no ulterior motive.

In that sense, God has won his wager with the devil. Job may utter words that darken God’s counsel, but he does not lose his integrity or abandon his God. Is it there- fore surprising that there should be full rec- onciliation between God and Job? And if the wager has been won, is there any rea- son for Job’s afflictions to continue?

(3) No matter how happy the ending, nothing can remove the suffering itself. The losses Job faced would always be with him. A happy ending is better than a mis- erable one, but it does not transform the suffering he endured into something less than suffering. A survivor of the Holo- caust has not suffered less because he ultimately settles into a comfortable life in Los Angeles.

(4) The Book of Job has no interest in praising mystery without restraint. All biblical writers insist that to fear the Lord ultimately leads to abundant life. If this were not so, to fear the Lord would be stupid and masochistic. The book does not disown all forms of retribution; rather, it disowns simplistic, mathematically precise, and instant application of the doc- trine of retribution. It categorically rejects any formula that affirms that the righteous always prosper and the wicked are always destroyed. There may be other reasons for suffering; rewards (of blessing or of destruction) may be long delayed; knowledge of God is its own reward.

Job still does not have all the answers; he still knows nothing about the wager between God and Satan. He must simply trust God that something far greater was at stake than his own personal happiness. But he has stopped hinting that God is unjust; he has come to know God better; and he enjoys the Lord’s favor in rich abundance once again.

photo wikipedia Job restored to prosperity by Laurent de La Hyre (1606–1656)

(5) The blessings that Job experiences at the end are not cast as rewards that he has earned by his faithfulness under suf- fering. The epilogue simply describes the blessings as the Lord’s free gift. The Lord is not nasty or capricious. He may for vari- ous reasons withdraw his favor, but his love endures forever.

In that sense, the epilogue is the Old Testament equivalent to the New Testament anticipation of a new heaven and a new earth. God is just, and will be seen to be just. This does not smuggle mathemati- cal retribution in through the back door. Rather, it is to return, in another form, to the conclusion of chapter 8 of this book.

(6) Although I have repeatedly spoken of God entering into a wager with Satan, or winning his wager with Satan, I have done so to try to capture the scene in the first chapter. But there is a danger in such language: it may sound as if God is capri- cious. He plays with the lives of his crea- tures so that he can win a bet.

Clearly that is not true. The challenge to Satan is not a game; nor is the outcome, in God’s mind, obscure. Nothing in the book tells us why God did this. The solemnity and majesty of God’s response to Job not only mask God’s purposes in mystery, but presuppose they are serious and deep, not flighty or frivolous.

Nevertheless, the wager with Satan is in certain ways congruent with other biblical themes. God’s concern for the salvation of men and women is part of a larger, cosmic struggle between God and Satan, in which the outcome is certain while the struggle is horrible. This is one way of placing the human dimensions of redemption and judgment in a much larger framework than what we usually perceive.

(7) We are perhaps better situated now to understand precisely why God says that his servant Job spoke of him “what was right,” while the three miserable com- forters did not. True, Job is rebuked for darkening the Lord’s counsel: he became guilty of an arrogance that dared to demand that God give an account of his actions. But Job has been genuinely grop- ing for the truth, and has not allowed glib answers to deter him. He denies neither God’s sovereignty nor (at least in most of his statements!) God’s justice. Above all, so far as the wager between God and Satan is concerned, Job passes with flying colors; he never turns his back on God.

Contrast the three friends. Although they are trying to defend God, their reductionistic theology ends up offering Job a temptation: to confess sins that weren’t there, in order to try to retrieve his prosperity. If Job had succumbed, it would have meant that Job cared more for prosperity than for his integrity or for the Lord himself; and the Lord would have lost his wager. Their counsel, if followed, would have actually led Job away from the Lord; Job would have been reduced to being yet one more person interested in seeking God for merely personal gain.

This is, at the end of the day, the ulti- mate test of our knowledge of God. Is it robust enough that, when faced with excruciating adversity, it may prompt us to lash out with hard questions, but will never permit us to turn away from God? But perhaps it is better to put the matter the other way round: the God who put Job through this wringer is also the God of whom it is said that, with respect to his own people, “he will not let [them] be tempted beyond what [they] can bear. But when [they] are tempted, he will also pro- vide a way out so that [they] can stand up under it” (1 Cor 10:13). God could not trust me with as much suffering as Job endured; I could not take it. But we must not think that there was any doubt in God’s mind as to whether he would win his wager with Satan over Job!

When we suffer, there will sometimes be mystery. Will there also be faith? 

D. A. Carson – Job: Mystery and Faith (4) Job and God

I am indebted to Adrian for pointing me to this treaty on Job. Any dedicated believer, who has suffered deeply, or has seen a loved one suffer is fascinated with the mechanics of Job’s dialogue with God in the midst of his own deep suffering and the wisdom, peace, and understanding that can be derived from it. You can read this article in it’s entirety, in pdf form here (18 pages) –

http://s3.amazonaws.com/tgc-documents/carson/2000_Job_mystery_and_faith.pdf

d a carsonD. A. Carson is Research Professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois. He is the author of numerous commentar- ies and monographs, and is one of this country’s foremost New Testament scholars. Among his books are Divine Sovereignty and Human Responsibility (John Knox Press, 1981; reprint, Baker, 1994) and How Long, O Lord?: Per- spectives on Suffering and Evil (Baker, 1990).

The topic is divided into
  1. READ Job chapters 1 – 3 Job’s Sufferings and Initial Reaction here
  2. READ Job chapters 4 – 31  Job’s Plaintive Outrage and His Miserable Comforters 
  3. READ Job chapter 32 – 37 Job and Elihu
  4. READ Job chapter 38 – 42:6 Job and God (article below)
  5. covers Job chapter 42:7-16 Job’s Happy Ending (coming)

Here are some excerpts from the 4th section:

Job chapter 38 – 42:6 Job and God

Finally God himself speaks, answering Job out of the storm (chaps. 38-41). “Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge? Brace your- self like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me” (38:2-3). There fol- lows question after question, each designed to remind Job of the kinds of thing he cannot do, and that only God can. “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand” (38:4). “Have you ever given orders to the morning, or shown the dawn its place … ?” (38:12). “Have you entered the store- houses of the snow or seen the storehouses of the hail, which I reserve for times of trouble, for days of war and battle?” (38:22-23). “Can you bind the beautiful Pleiades? Can you loose the cords of Orion? Can you bring forth the constellations in their seasons or lead out the Bear with its cubs?” (38:31-32). “Do you hunt the prey for the lioness and satisfy the hunger of the lions when they crouch in their dens or lie in wait in a thicket? Who provides food for the raven when its young cry out to God and wander about for lack of food?” (38:39-41). God then goes on to describe some of the more spectacular features of the mountain goat, the wild donkey, the ox, the ostrich, the horse, the hawk, the eagle. “Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct him? Let him who accuses God answer him!” (40:2).

photo genesistomalachi.weebly.com

Job had wanted an interview with the Almighty. He had, as it were, sworn an affidavit demanding that the Almighty appear and put his indictment in writing (31:35). But God’s defense wasn’t quite what Job had in mind. At the first pause, Job answers, “I am unworthy—how can I reply to you? I put my hand over my mouth. I spoke once, but I have no answer—twice, but I will say no more” (40:4-5).

But God hasn’t finished yet. “Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me” (40:7). Then come the most blistering questions: “Would you discredit my justice? Would you condemn me to justify yourself? Do you have an arm like God’s, and can your voice thunder like his? Then adorn your- self with glory and splendor, and clothe yourself in honor and majesty. Unleash the fury of your wrath, look at every proud man and bring him low, look at every proud man and humble him, crush the wicked where they stand. Bury them all in the dust together; shroud their faces in the grave. Then I myself will admit to you that your own right hand can save you” (40:8-14).

It is important to recognize that God does not here charge Job with sins that have brought on his suffering. He does not respond to the “whys” of Job’s suffering, nor does he challenge Job’s defense of his own integrity. The reason he calls Job on the carpet is not because of Job’s justifica- tion of himself, but because of Job’s will- ingness to condemn God in order to justify himself. In other words, God does not here “answer” Job’s questions about the prob- lem of evil and suffering, but he makes it unambiguously clear what answers are not acceptable in God’s universe.

The rest of chapter 40 and all of chap- ter 41 find God asking more rhetorical questions. Can Job capture and subdue the behemoth (40:15ff.) and leviathan (41:1ff.)? These two beasts may be the hip- popotamus and the crocodile, respec- tively, but they probably also represent primordial cosmic powers that sometimes break out against God. The argument, then, is that if Job is to charge God with injustice, he must do so from the secure stance of his own superior justice; and if he cannot subdue these beasts, let alone the cosmic forces they represent, he does not enjoy such a stance, and is therefore displaying extraordinary arrogance to call God’s justice into question.

Job’s response must be quoted in full (42:2-6), along with two or three explana- tory asides: “I know that you can do all things,” Job tells God, “no plan of yours can be thwarted. You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my counsel without knowl- edge?’ [38:2]. Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak; I will question you, and you shall answer me’ [38:3; 40:7]. My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you [i.e., Job has come to have a far clearer understanding of God than he had before]. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.”

What shall we make of this exchange between God and Job? Many doubtful interpretations have been put forward by various writers. Because God refers to so many natural phenomena, one writer argues that a major purpose of God’s speech is to tell Job that the beauty of the world must become for him an anodyne to human suffering, a kind of aesthetic aspirin. When one basks in the world’s beauty, one’s problems become petty, “because they dissolve within the larger plan” of the harmony of the universe.4 But to someone suffering intensely, the beauty of the world can just as easily become a brutal contrast that actually intensifies the suffering. Worse, it does not dissolve pain; rather, it is in danger of “dissolving” the sufferer in some kind of pantheistic sense of the fitness of things. This is surely a massive misunderstanding of God’s response. Not once does God minimize the reality of Job’s suffering.

Others, such as George Bernard Shaw, simply mock God’s answer. Job wants an answer as to why he is suffering, and the best that God can do is brag about mak- ing snowflakes and crocodiles. A contem- porary author like Elie Wiesel, writing in the aftermath of the Holocaust, holds that Job should have pressed God further. Doubtless Job needed to repent of his at- titude, but he still should have pressed God for an answer: Why do the righteous suffer?

Both of these approaches misunder- stand the book rather badly. They have this in common: they assume that every- thing that takes place in God’s universe ought to be explained to us. They assume that God owes us an explanation, that there cannot possibly be any good reason for God not to tell us everything we want to know immediately. They assume that God Almighty should be more interested in giving us explanations than in being worshiped and trusted.

The burden of God’s response to Job is twofold. The first emphasis we have already noted: Job has “darkened God’s counsel” by trying to justify himself at the expense of condemning God; and Job is in no position to do that. “God’s speeches show Job that his lowly station point was not the appropriate place from which to judge whether cosmic orders were suffi- ciently askew to justify the declaration ‘let there be darkness.’”5 The second empha- sis is implicit: if there are so many things that Job does not understand, why should he so petulantly and persistently demand that he understand his own suffering? There are some things you will not under- stand, for you are not God.

That is why Job’s answer is so appro- priate. He does not say, “Ah, at last I understand!” but rather, “I repent.” He does not repent of sins that have allegedly brought on the suffering; he repents of his arrogance in impugning God’s justice, he repents of his attitude whereby he simply demands an answer, as if such were owed him. He repents of not having known God better: “My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore … I repent” (42:5-6).

To those who do not know God, to those who insist on being God, this out- come will never suffice. Those who do not know God come in time to recognize that it is better to know God and to trust God than to claim the rights of God.

Job teaches us that, at least in this world, there will always remain some mysteries to suffering. He also teaches us to exercise faith—not blind, thoughtless submission to an impersonal status quo, but faith in the God who has graciously revealed himself to us.

D. A. Carson – Job: Mystery and Faith (3) Job and Elihu

I am indebted to Adrian for pointing me to this treaty on Job. Any dedicated believer, who has suffered deeply, or has seen a loved one suffer is fascinated with the mechanics of Job’s dialogue with God in the midst of his own deep suffering and the wisdom, peace, and understanding that can be derived from it. You can read this article in it’s entirety, in pdf form here (18 pages) –

http://s3.amazonaws.com/tgc-documents/carson/2000_Job_mystery_and_faith.pdf

d a carsonD. A. Carson is Research Professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois. He is the author of numerous commentar- ies and monographs, and is one of this country’s foremost New Testament scholars. Among his books are Divine Sovereignty and Human Responsibility (John Knox Press, 1981; reprint, Baker, 1994) and How Long, O Lord?: Per- spectives on Suffering and Evil (Baker, 1990).

The topic is divided into
  1. READ Job chapters 1 – 3 Job’s Sufferings and Initial Reaction here
  2. READ Job chapters 4 – 31  Job’s Plaintive Outrage and His Miserable Comforters 
  3. covers Job chapter 32 – 37 Job and Elihu (article below)
  4. covers Job chapter 38 – 42:6 Job and God  (coming)
  5. covers Job chapter 42:7-16 Job’s Happy Ending (coming)

Here are some excerpts from the 3rd section:

Job chapter 32 – 37 Job and Elihu

Chapters 32-37 are among the most interesting, and the most difficult, in the book. They start off by raising our expec- tations. Elihu, not mentioned until this point, has kept his peace throughout the debate, because the other participants are older than he: custom demanded that age take precedence. But now they fall silent, and Elihu, whose wrath has been stoked by the debate, declares himself angry with both Job and his three friends. He is angry with the three friends, “because they had found no way to refute Job “for  justifying himself rather than God” (32:2). And so his lengthy contribution begins.

photo www.myspace.com

We may summarize his argument this way:

(1) Elihu begins with a rather lengthy apology for speaking to his seniors (32:6- 22). Among the factors that compel him to speak is his conviction (as he says to Job’s three friends), that “not one of you has proved Job wrong; none of you has answered his arguments” (32:12). This does not mean he thinks Job is entirely right, as we shall see; but Elihu has care- fully distanced himself from the theology of the “miserable comforters.”

(2) When Elihu turns to Job, he first rebukes him for impugning God’s justice (33:8ff.). Job may be innocent (Elihu will come to that in due course), but that does not give him the right to charge God with injustice. There is a sense in which Job himself has been snookered by a simplis- tic doctrine of mathematically precise ret- ribution. The major difference between Job and his three friends is not their underlying views of retribution, but their views of Job’s guilt or innocence. Because Job is convinced he is innocent, he is pre- pared to skirt the view that God himself is guilty. Elihu will not have it: “But I tell you, in this you are not right” (33:12).

The first reason why Job is not right is that “God is greater than man” (33:12). By this Elihu does not mean to say that great- ness provides an excuse for wrongdoing, but that God may well have some pur- poses and perspectives in mind of which Job knows nothing. However much Job insists he is innocent, he must therefore put a guard on his tongue and refrain from making God guilty.

(3) The second thing Elihu says to Job is that God speaks more often and in more ways than Job acknowledges. “Why do you complain to him that he answers none of man’s words?” (33:13). The truth of the matter, Elihu insists, is that “God does speak—now one way, now another— though man may not perceive it” (33:14). He speaks in revelation: in dreams and visions (33:15-18). But God may also speak in the language of pain (33:19ff.). This is an advance on the argument between Job and his friends. Here is a chastening use of suffering that may be independent of some particular sin. Its purpose may be preventative: it can stop a person from slithering down the slope to destruction.

(4) In chapter 34, Elihu is so concerned to defend the justice of God that his rheto- ric becomes a little overheated. On the positive side, Elihu is determined to stop Job from charging God with injustice. The proper response to suffering is to accept it: God cannot possibly do wrong. By speaking the way he has, Job has added rebellion to his sin (34:37); “scornfully he claps his hands among us and multiplies his words against God.”

If Elihu is at times dangerously close to siding with the three miserable comfort- ers, it is here. Certainly he has not empathetically entered into Job’s suffering, or tried to fathom the anguish that leads Job to defend his integrity in such extrava- gant terms. But Elihu is right to defend the justice of God, and he has advanced the discussion by suggesting that Job’s great- est sin may not be something he said or did before the suffering started, but the rebellion he is displaying in the suffering. Even so, that does not explain the genesis of the suffering. It may, however, prepare Job to be a little more attentive to listen to God when God finally does speak.

In chapter 35, Elihu expressly disavows that Job is innocent. But unlike Eliphaz (22:5-9), he does not compose a list of sins Job must have committed, but challenges Job’s fundamental presumption. To take but one example: Job assumes that when people are oppressed they cry to God for help, and charges that God does not answer. Not so, insists Elihu: one is far more likely to find people crying out “under a load of oppression” and vaguely pleading “for relief from the arm of the powerful” (35:9), but still not praying. They want relief, but do not turn to God and pray. They cry for freedom, “[but] no one says, ‘Where is God my Maker … ?’” (35:10). God does not listen to such empty pleas (35:13). What makes Job think, then, that God will answer him when the assumption underlying his entire approach to God is that God owes him an answer, and may well be guilty of injustice (35:14-16)?

(5) In the last two chapters devoted to Elihu (chaps. 36-37), several themes come together, and Elihu begins to appear in more compassionate guise. The burden of the passage is this: whatever else may be said about the problem of evil and suffer- ing, the justice of God must be the “given”: “I will ascribe justice to my Maker,” Elihu pledges (36:3). But God is not malicious. He does care for his people. Therefore the proper response to suffering we cannot fathom is faith and perseverance; the response to avoid bitterness (for it is the godless who harbor resentment, 36:13). Job is in danger here: “Beware of turning to evil, which you seem to prefer to afflic- tion” (36:21)—that is, Job must not turn to evil as a way of alleviating his suffer- ing. Be patient, Elihu is saying, “those who suffer [God] delivers in [lit. through] their suffering; he speaks to them in their affliction. He is wooing you from the jaws of distress to a spacious place free from restriction, to the comfort of your table laden with choice food” (36:15-16). Be patient; it is better to be a chastened saint than a carefree sinner.

D. A. Carson – Job: Mystery and Faith (2) Job’s Miserable Comforters

I am indebted to Adrian for pointing me to this treaty on Job. Any dedicated believer, who has suffered deeply, or has seen a loved one suffer is fascinated with the mechanics of Job’s dialogue with God in the midst of his own deep suffering and the wisdom, peace, and understanding that can be derived from it. You can read this article in it’s entirety, in pdf form here (18 pages) –

http://s3.amazonaws.com/tgc-documents/carson/2000_Job_mystery_and_faith.pdf

d a carsonD. A. Carson is Research Professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois. He is the author of numerous commentar- ies and monographs, and is one of this country’s foremost New Testament scholars. Among his books are Divine Sovereignty and Human Responsibility (John Knox Press, 1981; reprint, Baker, 1994) and How Long, O Lord?: Per- spectives on Suffering and Evil (Baker, 1990).

The topic is divided into
  1. READ Job chapters 1 – 3 Job’s Sufferings and Initial Reaction here
  2. covers Job chapters 4 – 31  Job’s Plaintive Outrage and His Miserable Comforters (article below)
  3. covers Job chapter 32 – 37 Job and Elihu (coming)
  4. covers Job chapter 38 – 42:6 Job and God (coming)
  5. covers Job chapter 42:7-16 Job’s Happy Ending (coming)

Here are some excerpts from the 2nd section:

II. Job chapters 4 – 31  

Job’s Plaintive Outrage and His Miserable Comforters 

Job’s lament is all the encouragement his three friends need to break their silence. The way the drama is set out, each of them—Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar— have a go at Job, trying to correct his theology and lead him to repentance. After each speaks, Job himself replies. Then the entire cycle is repeated, and starts to be repeated yet again. The third cycle sputters out with a short contribution from Bildad (25:1-6); Zophar never does contribute to the third round. By this time, Job is really indignant, and makes a lengthy speech (chaps. 26-31) that silences his interlocutors without convincing them.

Job and his friends represent deeply entrenched and opposed positions on the questions surrounding Job’s sufferings. To simplify a bit, we may summarize their positions.

(1) Job’s friends offer glib answers and a condemning spirit. The heart of their theological position is summed up by Eliphaz’s question: “Consider now: Who, being innocent, has ever perished? Where were the upright ever destroyed? As I have observed, those who plow evil and those who sow trouble reap it” (4:7-8).

(2) Job responds with self-justification and hard questions. He is guilty of nothing that can justify such suffering. The readers know this to be true: Job is suffering because God is demonstrating his servant’s spiritual integrity to Satan, not because Job is being punished.

But Job will not be put off so easily. For a start, he resents his friends’ lack of com- passion, their winking condescension. “A despairing man should have the devotion of his friends, even though he forsakes the fear of the Almighty. But my brothers are as undependable as intermittent streams, as the streams that overflow” (6:14-15). Job can see through his friends’ unexpressed fears: if the universe is not as ordered as they would like to think it is, then they themselves cannot count on security: “Now you too have proved to be of no help; you see something dreadful and are afraid” (6:21).

His plea is emotional, and pitiable: “But nowbesokindastolookatme.WouldI lie to your face [i.e., by hiding sins]? Relent, do not be unjust; reconsider, for my integrity is at stake” (6:28-29).

Job reviews his sufferings again. All he wants is to die before he is tempted to deny the words of the Holy One (6:10). Eventually, he turns to God and begs for pity: “Remember, O God, that my life is but a breath; my eyes will never see happiness again” (7:7). But he is not willing to concede that what he is suffering is only fair: “I will not keep silent; I will speak out in the anguish of my spirit, I will com- plain in the bitterness of my soul” (7:11). He begs God to back off, to let him die; his days have no meaning. Why pick on me? he asks, in effect. Why pick on any man in this way (7:17-19)?

Job does not claim sinless perfection. He simply argues that any conceivable sin he may have committed does not justify being made a target of the Almighty. “If I have sinned, what have I done to you, O watcher of men? Why have you made me your target? Have I become a burden to you?” (7:20).

……..

Job’s problem is not that God is simply too distant, but that Job could not win— even though he is quite certain he is suffering innocently. (And again, his readers know he is right on the latter score!)

photo via GospelCoalition.org

…..The summary of chapters 4 – 31:

(1) Job’s friends have a tight theology with no loose ends. Suffering is understood exclusively in terms of punishment or chastening. There is no category for innocent suffering: in their understanding, such a suggestion besmirches the integrity of the Almighty.

(2) Although they are quick to defend God and say many wonderful things about him, their arguments are cast in tones so condescending to Job that one begins to lose patience with them. There is very little hint of compassion, empathy, honest grief. The defense of God can be unbearably hard.

(3) Job’s arguments must not be confused with the atheism of Bertrand Russell, the challenge of David Hume, the theological doubletalk of Don Cupitt, or the poetic defiance: “I am the master of my fate! I am the captain of my soul!” Job’s speeches are the anguish of a man who knows God, who wants to know him bet- ter, who never once doubts the existence of God, who remains convinced, at bottom, of the justice of God—but who cannot make sense of these entrenched beliefs in the light of his own experience.

That is why, in the midst of his confusion and self-justification, Job utters some remarkably assured statements of faith. He is so sure of his case that he wishes he could find someone to arbitrate between himself and God (9:33-35). Of course, this is God’s universe, so he can’t; but the Christian cannot read these words without thinking of the mediatorial role of Jesus. Nor does Job become apostate: “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him; I will surely defend my ways to his face. Indeed, this will turn out for my deliverance, for no godless man would dare come before him!” (13:15-16). He is so sure of ultimate vindication that he can say, “But [God] knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold” (23:10). However difficult the verses in 19:25-27 be translated,3 the least they affirm is that Job is absolutely confident in his final vindication—by God himself.

(4) The final lengthy speech of Job (26:1- 31:40) reiterates many of the themes already developed, but it reaches a new intensity of bitterness. Now Job is not satisfied with hints: he openly charges God with injustice, and he almost savagely defends his integrity: “As surely as God lives, who has denied me justice, the Almighty who has made me taste bitter- ness of soul, as long as I have life within me, the breath of God in my nostrils, my lips will not speak wickedness, and my tongue will utter no deceit. I will never admit you are in the right; till I die, I will not deny my integrity. I will maintain my righteousness and never let go of it; my conscience will not reproach me as long as I live” (27:2-6). Chapters 29-31 are a moving recital of all the godly things that made up Job’s life in the days before he was afflicted. They bear the most careful reading: would to God I could claim half so much. Job has been honest, generous, disciplined; he rescued the poor, helped the blind, comforted those who mourned; he made a covenant with his eyes “not to look lustfully at a girl” (31:1); he was host to countless strangers; he made sure he never rejoiced over the misfortune of another; he never trusted in his own wealth. He frankly feared God (31:23). And he is utterly determined to maintain that his own integrity totally precludes the possibility that his sufferings constitute punishment for sin. As far as he is concerned, confession of sin that he has not committed, just to satisfy his friends and perhaps win some sort of reprieve, would itself be sinful. His integrity is too important to him for that.

(5) Job is therefore not looking for a merely intellectual answer, a merely theological argument. He wants personal vindication by God himself. He wants God to appear and give an account of what He is doing. The drama does not concern an agnostic professor of philosophy; it con- cerns a man who knows God, who loves and fears God, and whose utter assurance of his own integrity drives him to long for a personal encounter with God that will not merely provide “answers” but will also vindicate the sufferer.

(6) It is important to glance ahead a little. The “three men stopped answering Job, because he was righteous in his own eyes” (32:1). They were at an impasse: they could make sense of his suffering only by insisting on his guilt, and he kept insisting on his innocence. But God, after disclosing himself to Job, says to Eliphaz, “I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has” (42:7). Indeed, Job must offer sacrifice and pray for them.

This is remarkable. The three miserable comforters thought they were defending God, and he charges them with saying the wrong things about him. Job defends his own integrity so virulently that he steps over the line now and then and actually charges God with injustice, yet God insists that his servant Job has spoken what is right. Of course, this does not mean that Job’s speeches have been entirely without fault. As we shall see, God charges Job with darkening His counsel “with words without knowledge” (38:2). In the last section of this chapter I shall explore more fully in which ways Job is right and his three friends are wrong. But under any reading of God’s vindication of Job’s discourses, room is made for innocent suffering; a simple theory of retributive justice—punishment proportionate to sin—is inadequate to explain some of the hard cases.

Alistair Begg: „Inadequacy: The Surprising Secret to Being Useful to God” (Lecture at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School))

Uploaded by on Dec 26, 2011 The Carl F.H. Henry Center, located on the Trinity Evangelical Divinity School campus, hosts Alistair Begg, pastor of Parkside Church in Cleveland, Ohio. The lecture was given on October 26, 2011.

„Inadequacy: The Surprising Secret to Being Useful to God”

The NBA champions this year was a team made up of fewer stars and less glitz than their opponents. We might say that humility triumphed over hubris. There are lessons-a-plenty in this for an evangelical church that routinely produces all-stars. Such an approach endangers the recipients of such adulation and discourages those who are by-passed in the process. In this lecture, Alistair Begg will consider God’s pattern of using unlikely and ordinary characters and address the possibility that what we regard as a hindrance may be the key to usefulness in God’s service.

Alistair Begg: „Inadequacy:

The Surprising Secret to Being Useful to God” (Interview)

Debate by noted Christian scholars on the Trinity

Wikipedia has a good introductory summary of how Christians describe the Trinity-

The Christian doctrine of the Trinity defines God as three divine persons (Greek: ὑποστάσεις):the Father, the Son (Jesus Christ), and the Holy Spirit. The three persons are distinct yet coexist in unity, and are co-equal, co-eternal and consubstantial (Greek: ὁμοούσιοι). Put another way, the three persons of the Trinity are of one being (Greek: οὐσία). The Trinity is considered to be a mystery of Christian faith.

The major difference that divides the 3 major religions- Judaism, Christianity and Islam can also be traced right back to each faith’s particular understanding of the doctrine of the Trinity. Three years ago, 4 theologians met and debated, on the outskirts of Chicago at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School  (TEDS for short) of Deerfield,Illinois. They were/are former and current professors of TEDS – Bruce Ware, Wayne Grudem, Tom McCall, Keith Yandell.

The question the professors debated was-

Do relations of authority and submission exist eternally among the Persons of the Godhead?

Here is the Moderator, Dr. Chris Firestone’s introduction: There’s a real need for the Christian Evangelical community to maintain clarity and precision in its understanding of the doctrine of God, both in terms of its Christology and Trinity. This is where tonight’s debate picks up in earnest. The doctrine of the trinity is most arguably the most central and distinctive feature of the Christian faith. Questions to keep in mind as this debate proceeds-

  1. Which position best reflects the biblical witness?
  2. Which position is the most reasonable and rationally cogent?
  3. Should the biblical witness and rationale cogency be thought to conflict with one another?
  4. Should the Christians just stick with the confessional norms of the Church? If so, which position resonates with the historic position of the Church? If not, how revisionist of these norms should Evangelical Christians be?

Please set aside a good portion of time for this very important debate, as it is 2 1/2 hours long, and very well worth the time, considering the debaters, especially the most well known debater- Wayne Grudem, whose Systematic Theology Textbook sits on all of our shelves. At the introduction Dr. Chris Firestone also mentions several books written by the panelists on the subject of the Trinity that are well worth looking into as well. Enjoy!

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