Calvinism and Job: Something to Think About
Most Christians are familiar with the story of Job. Job endured severe trials but did not curse God (though he did question God). The emphases of the book are many. It is probably mainly concerned with a faulty theology which claimed that bad things don’t happen to good people. But how does any of this relate to Calvinism and Arminianism?
We are told in the first two chapters of Job that Satan presented himself before the Lord and the Lord pointed out the righteousness of Job. It would appear that God was proud of Job’s righteous conduct and wanted Satan to take notice. God was truly pleased with Job.
Satan takes God to task concerning Job’s righteousness and makes it clear that he believes Job fears God in faith and righteousness because God has shown favor on Job and Job has had a blessed life. If Job’s circumstances were different, then he would likely respond differently, even to the point of cursing God. Consider Satan’s first challenge to God concerning Job:
“Does Job fear God for nothing? Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and fields are spread out throughout the land. But stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your faith.” (Job 1:9)
Now let us keep in mind the presuppositions of Calvinism and try to make sense of Satan’s challenge. If Job has faith in God and serves God in righteousness, it is entirely due to the irresistible influence of God’s grace. God is the direct cause of Job’s faith and righteousness. Why then would Satan challenge God in such a way? Why talk about blessings and say that if only God would remove these blessings, or harm Job’s flesh, that Job would curse God to His face? Why not say something like:
“Does Job fear God for nothing. Doesn’t he fear you because you chose him to fear you from the foundation of the world and have caused him to serve you in faith and righteousness by that grace which Job cannot resist? Remove from him your irresistible grace and then let’s see how Job responds. Will he not curse you to your face? Am I supposed to be impressed with your servant Job for doing what you have irresistibly caused him to do?”
I suppose that Satan may have been ignorant of the doctrine of irresistible grace, but I still find the entire confrontation and dialogue to be very odd given Calvinistic presuppositions. In fact, I find most of God’s interactions with His creation to be very odd given Calvinist presuppositions. Job is just one example of how a Calvinist may need to temporarily ignore such doctrines in order to read the inspired text. No doubt some intelligent Calvinists will be able to explain why we should not think such conversations as that found between Satan and God in Job are odd given Calvinist presuppositions. I am not saying that these passages disprove Calvinism. I am just saying that they do not fit comfortably with Calvinist beliefs concerning how God interacts with human beings and exercises His sovereignty. Since the Bible is full of many such interactions, it should not be surprising to Calvinists when people have a hard time believing that their doctrines are Biblically sound. I welcome any comments or suggestions.