Theology/Divinity And Humanity term paper 18083

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Divinity and Humanity

A fundamental question that has had philosophers and theologians puzzled for ages is

exactly how we relate to our higher power. The search for this answer is so important to us

because once it is known, we will all know how to better serve God and be righteous. With this

knowledge, we will also attain a better understanding of the universe we live in and our exact

place therein. There have been many interpretations taken from the Bible of what exactly the

right answer is. Two different, conflicting viewpoints can easily be drawn from Genesis and The

Book of Job regarding the relationship between God and human beings.

In Genesis, God is presented as a superior being who s relationship with the human beings

that he created is similar to a friendship. You pat my back, I ll pat yours is an underlying theme

in many of the covenants and promises that he makes with Adam, Noah, Abraham, and other

humans. By making covenants with humans, God essentially provides a framework from which

people can easily understand how to lead a just life. To begin with, Genesis presents the story of

Adam and Eve, who are given life in paradise on the one sole condition that they do not eat from

the tree of knowledge of good and evil. When they break the one rule with which they were

presented, God employs his sense of justice and banishes Adam and Eve from the Garden of

Eden. With this, it is shown that God employs a system of actions based on set conditions. This

is a very direct, logical relationship on both sides.

While God shows his sense of justice by banishing Adam and Eve from the Garden of

Eden, he also exhibits his ability to follow through with his promises of blessings in the story of

the Great Flood. God tells Noah Go into the ark, you and all your household; for you alone in

this generation have I found to be righteous. (Gen 7:1). Noah follows God s orders exactly, to

ensure that life on earth would continue, but that generation of people, who were extremely

corrupt, would not survive. After Noah goes through all the hardship of essentially keeping life

on earth, God blesses him and his family and promises that he will never flood the earth again.

This is the other side of God s justice presented in Genesis; when human beings follow God and

his orders, they are rewarded greatly.

God makes a similar covenant with Abraham. Abraham also follows God s exact orders

by bringing him sacrifices when he is told, leaving his home country, and even gets ready to

present his own son as a sacrifice to God. This last event is referred to as a test to prove his

faith. Abraham comes so close as to strap his son to an altar and reach for his dagger, when the

Lord stops him. In exchange for his unfaltering dedication to the Lord, Abraham is promised to

have descendants more numerous than the stars in the sky. This relationship is the definition of a

good friendship. Friends have faith in each other and do whatever they can for each other.

Abraham constantly proves how much he is dedicated to the Lord and God in return blesses

future generations to descend from Abraham. There is a complete understanding on both sides of

this relationship. It makes sense that God would understand the relationship, since he is portrayed

as omniscient. But Abraham, as a human, understands that by putting his faith into God, he will

be rewarded in a just manner. He completely understands God s sense of justice and therefore

will follow him.

This is much different from the relationship portrayed in the book of Job. Job, like

Abraham, was a devout follower of the Lord, doing all that he could to lead a righteous life. In

his understanding, by following God, he should be blessed because of God s sense of justice. The

Lord even says to the Adversary that, You will find no one like him on earth, a man of blameless

and upright life, who fears God and sets his face against wrongdoing. (Job 1:8). But when God

is presented with the idea that even the most devoted follower of God only practices such

devotion out of only selfish motives, Job is put through many tests as well. These tests are not

at all like those presented to Abraham. While Job started out very prosperous, having many sons

and daughters, thousands of sheep, camels, and oxen, all of these are taken from him by either

fire, thieves, or catastrophes. When this happens, Job takes all of it calmly, saying, The Lord

giveth and the Lord taketh away; blessed be the name of the Lord. (Job 1:21). After this test,

the Adversary still suggests that the same motives are influencing Job; promises of splendor and

self-indulgence. After this, the Lord plagued Job with painful sores on his feet, making his pain

more physical than mental. Job s wife asks him after this, Why do you still hold fast to your

integrity? Curse God and die! (Job 2:9). At first, Job verbally attacks his wife, and refuses to let

go of his faith. After a week, however, Job gets so upset with his situation, that he does decide to

curse the name of the Lord and regret his birth vehemently. Three of his friends ask him why he

has changed his mind so drastically. Job in turn questions the nature of God, who has acted so

bizarrely towards him after Job served Him so greatly. Job replies to the questions of his peers by

cursing God and saying things like, I swear by the living God, who has denied me justice, by the

Almighty, who has filled me with bitterness, that so long as there is any life left in me and the

breath of God is in my nostrils, no untrue word will pass my lips. . . I shall not abandon my claim

of innocence. (Job 27:2-5).

The passages of questioning and speeches by Job and his friends is followed by God s

answer to Job, which is full of elaborate poetry describing the awesome power and unfathomable

wisdom of God. God explains to Job through these exquisite words that he should not even try

to understand his motives, because they are impossible to understand. God questions Job, asking

things like, Can you bind the cluster of the Pleiades or loose Orion s belt? Can you bring out the

signs of the zodiac in their season or guide Aldebaran and its satellite stars? (Job 38:31-32) and

Have you an arm like God s arm; can you thunder with a voice like his? (Job 40:9). These

questions serve like the popular catch phrase of modern culture: Don t judge a man until you

have walked a mile in his shoes. Yet this form of that statement goes far beyond that of human

comprehension. It is quite impossible for any human to pass judgment upon God, for no one has

ever created the universe. Job finally realizes this and submits to God that he has done wrong in

trying to comprehend what has compelled God to issue such misfortune upon him. The Lord

gives and takes away, but in a manner which we cannot understand.

The story of Job is followed by an epilogue, which contradicts the moral that the story

presents. Job s fortune is restored entirely and he is essentially redeemed. This restores the point

established in Genesis; the friendship between God and humankind. If this were part of the

original biblical text, it definitely does not fit within the context of Job. It makes little sense that

God would put Job through so much in order to establish that his motives cannot be understood,

only to restore things as they were beforehand, essentially wiping out all of his efforts.

So which of these two accounts are we to believe truly accounts for the relationship

between God and humanity? Does God truly work in mysterious ways, accounting for tragedies

presented daily on the evening news like famine, warfare, and natural disasters? Perhaps these

tragedies may not lie within our definition of a just and fair God, but perhaps the notion of justice

cannot be applied to God, as is presented in the book of Job. It is much easier to comprehend a

God who is benevolent, who rewards those who place their faith in Him. This is the view which

receives more focus in today s religion. Some people believe that if they strictly follow what they

see in the Bible and only engage in behavior that it describes, they will be rewarded both in this

life and perhaps the next. If this was not the case, there would be perhaps no point to saying

prayers, observing the Sabbath, or obeying the Ten Commandments, for if atrocities can happen

to those who do these things while criminals and those devoid of compassion live lives full of

luxury and happiness, some might say there is no point in it.

Perhaps people should not concern themselves with how they relate to God, but rather be

more concerned with how they relate to others in this life. While it would be very helpful for

many to find this answer which has been so unclear throughout history, it is quite possible that it

cannot be understood. People should maybe focus more on their friendships on earth, which can

be just as rewarding, both spiritually and physically, as their relationship with God, who s

existence is mysterious and incomprehensible, while the existence of others is much easier to

relate to and understand.

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