"With friends like this ..." (When defending God is wrong)

I was reading Job 13 this morning and was struck by the following:
6 Hear now my argument;
listen to the plea of my lips.
7 Will you speak wickedly on God's behalf?
Will you speak deceitfully for him?
8 Will you show him partiality?
Will you argue the case for God?
9 Would it turn out well if he examined you?
Could you deceive him as you might deceive men?
10 He would surely rebuke you
if you secretly showed partiality.
11 Would not his splendor terrify you?
Would not the dread of him fall on you?

Job is speaking to his "friends". They are zealous, God-believing folk trying to make sense of a situation which challenges their faith and which they feel threatens God's honour. So they come to God's defence and put Job in his place so that God is seen to be justified.

But Job argues that, in fact, if God turned up he would expose the error of his own apologists and vindicate Job's righteousness.

By seeking to defend God they painted a portrait of the situation that dishonoured Job and dishonoured God.

Sometimes, when we try to act as God's friends and to defend him we actually misrepresent him and act, in effect, as his enemies. And on the day of judgement it is such apologists who will have to repent.

Of course, apologetics is not wrong per se — in fact, I consider it to have a helpful place — but it can be wrong: it can be unethical; it can fail to treat people with respect; it can end up misrepresenting the Lord.

What we need is wisdom to know when to speak, what to say, and how to say it. And we need to know when to shut up.
If only you would be altogether silent!
For you, that would be wisdom. (Job 13:5)


James Goetz said…
Could this possibly apply to the typical evangelical apologetic ministry that staunchly supports cessationism, the Chicago Statement on Inerrancy, anti-evolutionism, and anti- universalism?
Those are a quite varied set of issues, James.

Do you see some kind of common fallacy in them all?
I do think Christians can make some quite lame defences of God, especially when it comes to the topic of evil and suffering, where evangelicals tend to lapse into a default Augustinianism.
Anonymous said…
"default Augustinianism"?

are you referring to the fine expression of it in the cartoon below?

and what is wrong with the Augustinian attitude anyway ? ! :)
James Goetz said…
Hi Celestial,

Off of the top of my head, I don't see a common fallacy in all of those views. But I carefully studied each of those views and noticed that various apologists staunchly support all of those views while implying that those views are fundamentally important for biblical Christianity. Perhaps the insistence that each of those views are fundamentally important for biblical Christianity is some type of common fallacy, but each view has its own problems.
Anonymous said…
On an off topic, but related note, I'm always perturbed whenever I see the Word of God taken out of context. For example, some in the Word of Faith movement often use this passage...

"Thou shalt make thy prayer unto him, and he shall hear thee, and thou shalt pay thy vows.

Thou shalt also decree a thing, and it shall be established unto thee: and the light shall shine upon thy ways." - Job 22:27-28

... to justify that Christians should make a 'vow' to the Lord (in other words give money to the televangelist)and that when they 'speak the word' or 'declare the word' it will be established. Sorta what the book 'The Secret' proposes.

But what they don't realize is that these words in Job are spoken by Eliphaz the Temanite, one of Job's friends who have come to comfort him. When we get to the end of Job, we have God condemning Job's friends saying,

"Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge?" - Job 38:2

Then later, God actually disciplines Job's friends for thier faulty counsel,

"And it was so, that after the LORD had spoken these words unto Job, the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite, My wrath is kindled against thee, and against thy two friends: for ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job hath.

Therefore take unto you now seven bullocks and seven rams, and go to my servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and my servant Job shall pray for you: for him will I accept: lest I deal with you after your folly, in that ye have not spoken of me the thing which is right, like my servant Job.

So Eliphaz the Temanite and Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite went, and did according as the LORD commanded them: the LORD also accepted Job." - Job 42:7-9
Anonymous said…
By the way, the previous Anonymous comment is from Dondi.
Anonymous said…
That is said very well. I do think God is big enough to take care of himself. We don't need to fight for him.

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