Thursday, April 05, 2012

An even exchange?

“Satan’s wager and God’s assent to it dramatize a terrible quandary of faith: a pious man whose life has always been placid can never know whether his faith in God is more than an interested bargain—a convenience that has worked to his benefit—unless it is tested by events that defy the postulate of a divine moral order. Only when unreasonable misfortune erupts into a man’s life can he come to know the basis of his relation to God, thus allaying doubts (personified here by Satan) that both he and others must harbor about his faith. To conquer these doubts by demonstrating that disinterested devotion to God can indeed exist is necessary for man’s spiritual well-being; God’s acquiescence in Satan’s wager expresses this necessity. The terrible paradox is that no righteous man can measure his love of God unless he suffers a fate befitting the wicked.”—Jewish Bible Theology, page 224

<idle musing>
Interesting, isn't it? Kinda reminds me of the mystics "dark night of the soul" where God withholds the sense of his presence so that your faith may increase. After all, Second Corinthians says we walk by faith and not by sight...
</idle musing>

5 comments:

Rupert de Bear said...

This is an attractive idea, it makes meaning of our meaningless experiences of trouble. But it cannot be a rule, for there are (or at least seem to be) faithful believers who experience only minor troubles of the sort that everyone does... Saints whose lives are relatively untroubled, alongside those who live with their hopes shattered when a child is born with terrible handicap or who experience mental ilness...

jps said...

Rupert,

I think that generalizations or rules are mainly what the book of Job is standing against. Job is righteous, yet he gets pummeled. Somebody else is righteous and has almost no problems. God rules over both.

James

Tim Bulkeley said...

I'm sorry about the pseudonym above, I had forgotten that when I moved from Blogger annoyed that I was still "given" a Blogger profile because I had a Gmail account I changed my name and things.

I agree that Job resists neat systematisations, something about the wording of the quote made it sound like such a simple schema.

jps said...

Tim,

That explains much! I was wondering who Rupert de Bear might be : ) Sounded too cute...

That is the problem with short little quotations; the context always adds so much—but I can't put the whole essay on my blog.

James

Tim Bulkeley said...

Yes, sorry, I had forgotten I had done it. Rupert the Bear was a character in children's comic books and a newspaper serial when I was young. I've changed it back to me now ;)

Yes, short quotes are often good for highlighting an idea but miss the qualifications :(

A bit like polictcal speeches ;)