God pushes back not on Job, but on the four accusers. God berates them with question after question, challenging their notions of who God is : a god that governs over transactions or a god defined by God’s relationship with Israel. As God speaks from the storm, I get the sense that the Book of Job isn’t about Job at all. It is about those who attempt to speak on God’s behalf.
Job’s response is beautiful. He says “I am unworthy. How can I reply to you? I put my hand over my mouth.”
But to the four that spoke for God, God says, “I am angry with you... because you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has...” And the story ends with Job being restored.
There is a real danger in pastoral work. The temptation to push past humility in our confession of what God is doing pulls at us all, and we need to resist this temptation. Often we are called upon to make sense of what is going on around us, and far too often we can’t. This leaves us scrambling with uncertainty at best; and at worst, it puts us in a position to substitute our own authority for God’s. But God speaks for Godself. It is not our place to judge or to condemn. It is our place to love. Because most of the time we don’t know what’s really going on. And when we attempt to place judgment on someone, or explain why God has allowed something to happen, we end up looking foolish. Who knows the mind of God? Not Job, not his friends, not his wife, and certainly not us.
Only God can speak for God. That's good.
Ben Myers muses on what it means to be a theologian:
Perhaps then we should define theologians like this: They are people for whom even the Christian worship service does not provide adequate catharsis of the hurtfulness of God.
That is why, as a general rule, you should try to show kindness to theologians. Not because they are necessarily exemplary personalities. Not because they necessarily know what they're talking about. Not because they are necessarily people of great faith. Instead, you should show them kindness because their faith is so weak and so vulnerable; because they are burdened by the difficulty of God; because they are driven to think about God the way some people are driven to drink. You should take care of your theologians the way you would care for the widow and the orphan.
God is a whole lot bigger and more complicated than we would like to admit...
Roger Olson weighs in on inerrancy:
I like theologian Emil Brunner’s illustration. (I don’t necessarily agree with everything he wrote about the Bible.) In his little book Our Faith Brunner wrote about the old RCA Victrola advertisement that showed a dog listening to the megaphone of a record player. Under the picture the caption read “His master’s voice.” We recognize our master’s voice in Scripture in spite of its inevitable flaws, just as the dog in the illustration recognized his master’s voice in spite of the inevitable flaws on the record.
And, after catching flak for it, adds this today:
...belief in strict, detailed, technical inerrancy and insistence on it for authority sets up an impossibly high standard for any book. And it undermines faith because one has to wait for each new edition of Biblical Archeological Review (or similar publication) to know whether one can still believe the Bible. What if the Bible contains a factual error in history or cosmology? Does that mean the end of belief in the Bible? I pity anyone who says so.
I believe in the authority of the Bible because I believe in Jesus; not vice versa. The Bible is the cradle that holds the Christ child and that in it is authoritative that promotes Christ (was Christum treibt) (Luther). Too many evangelicals, like fundamentalists, base Christian belief on (alleged) secular facticity. The two are, of course, inseparable. I don’t want a faith that is irrational or esoteric. However, the foundation of Christian faith itself is not a set of facts but Jesus Christ communicated to us by the Holy Spirit.
Too many people put the cart before the horse. I think inerrancy is a flawed doctrine that has done more to destroy faith than build it. It is based on a need for sight instead of faith. It is setting up an idol that we can bow to, just a surely as a statue of Mary, or any other religious trinket that we substitute for Jesus.
OK, let the arrows commence!