Off The Record
The book of Job is an obvious place to turn when a Christian suffers, but it is not easy to discern what God means to teach his people through this difficult book. This article interprets Job’s teaching on suffering from five broad perspectives: (1) God’s purpose in allowing suffering; (2) how Job “diversifies” our interpretations of suffering; (3) what God requires of us when we suffer; (4) what promises God makes about the end of suffering; and (5) how Job-like suffering grants us a new vision of God.
The contributors to Adam, the Fall, and Original Sin rightly maintain the traditional view of the historicity of Adam and the entry of sin into the world through him. However, the account displays three weaknesses. Firstly, the inerrant authority of Scripture is sometimes interpreted as entailing that the Ancient Near Eastern context of Genesis sheds no light on how it should be read. Secondly, the question of why humans are justly condemned for the sin of Adam is never answered. Thirdly, no ground for dialogue with science is provided. It is more successful in indicating what we should affirm than in grappling with the difficulties of affirming it.
Stephen Williams raises a number of concerns with the book, Adam, the Fall, and Original Sin. The authors, he concludes, fail to grasp the nettle of difficulties facing the Augustinian hamartiology. While some of his objections hit the mark, others are less convincing. Original guilt, in particular, is a resilient doctrine. Rooted in Scripture and of a piece with Christ’s atonement and imputed righteousness, this doctrine resists its detractors. Thus, rumors of the demise of original sin as a viable doctrine have been greatly exaggerated.
In his new book, The Lost World of Adam and Eve, John Walton tries to show that there is no necessary contradiction or tension between the discoveries of modern science when they are rightly understood and what the Bible actually teaches about cosmic and human origins. The reviewer agrees on this point and many others through the book. The major area of disagreement is that, in order to make his argument, Walton proposes there is no material creation in Gen 1–2; that is, creation has to do with establishing functions alone. This is not sustainable from the text. Both material creation and the functions of those things created are essential components of these creation accounts.
In churches, seminaries, and in the scholarly literature, the book of Job is only rarely preached or taught in detail. This wisdom text has always been a difficult book to interpret, and to complicate matters it is increasingly counter to the assumptions and values of the contemporary culture. This article proposes six strategies for the effective communication of Job in the twenty-first century.
History and Historical Theology
Systematic Theology and Bioethics
Ethics and Pastoralia
Mission and Culture