Saturday, January 7, 2012

The suffering of the innocent and God's justice in wisdom texts (Gerald H Wilson)

I am reading Gerald Wilson's commentary on Job (2007). I really think that we need a deeper understanding of suffering in the Bible if we want to be genuine followers of Jesus. It is because the gospel itself has a lot to do with the suffering, death and resurrection of Christ. The cross, of course, involves the suffering of the innocent One. And without death, there is no resurrection.

Here is a paragraph in the introduction of Wilson's book that is worth citing. (I will highlight a few things in blue.)

"The hard-eyed observations of 'pessimistic wisdom' compare and contrast the assumption of retribution in more expansive literary forms, including the extended discourses of Ecclesiastes and the dialogue/debate at the heart of Job. These discussions expose the weaknesses of retributive thinking and explore alternative worldviews that acknowledge the prosperity of the wicked, the oppression of the poor, and the suffering of the innocent. They also raise questions regarding the sovereignty and justice of God, who permits such circumstances to exist. In the end, however, these questioning forms of wisdom do not seek to undermine faith in God. Rather, they offer their own testimony to a continuing reliance on God and acknowledge the pain and confusion that inhabit the real world of the observant sage. Both Ecclesiastes and Job, after their devastating critiques of naive retributive thinking, counsel readers that the only way forward is to remain in a deep relationship of absolute dependence on God (what Israel calls 'fear of God'), acknowledging his sovereign freedom and admitting, along with Job, that knowing this God transcends (but does not remove!) the questions and doubts that diligent sages uncover in their searching." (page 4)

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