вторник, 20 июля 2010 г.

Job's righteousness

The Book of Job begins with the words: «There was a person in the earth Uz, his name was Job; and this person was blameless, upright, feared God and shunned evil» (Job 1:1), - and these words become for us that "door" through which we “enter” the book. And at the same time they create the problem connected with their interpretation: we cannot understand how - if Job is righteous and God is fair - such sufferings could come to a life of this just and pure person? Actually, the question about the relation of God to suffering is a classical question of theodicy - but the unequivocal answer to this question for all history of mankind, in my opinion, has not been found yet. The full and universal answer to this question cannot be received by a theoretical speculation - it is possible only to experience such things in real contact with God and His revelation, as occurred to the suffering Job.
Long time Job's book remained closed for me, and the history about sufferings of this righteous person caused inconsistent feelings in my soul: on the one hand indignation by the fact this servant of God should have gone through «so deep waters», on the other hand, the horror before God who does not report to anybody and ready to test those who serve him so selflessly in order to deal with Satan. Bob Sordge expresses this opinion in his book «Pain, Bewilderment and Eminence». He writes: «Actually God calls Satan to a struggle, Job here is a whipping boy». This thought is developed also by another Christian writer: «Job has been selected as the main weapon in great dispute in heavens. God uses Job to prove to Satan: the faith of a man can be authentic and self-denying, it does not depend exclusively on blessings of God …. Having allowed us from the very beginning to glance for side scenes, the author of the book of Job deprives the story of all elements of the mystery. There is only one burning secret: how Job will react? Only one question demands the answer, and it is the question of faith».
Such interpretations, undoubtedly, seem spiritual, but they are not logical. God, first, has no need to argue with Satan – the outcome of their struggle is predetermined (See Rev. 20:10). It is possible to object, of course: though the Satan has lost the general fight – he nevertheless tries to make harm to God by gaining separate victories in struggle for souls of God’s servants. Well, it may be so, struggle actually is conducted for immortal human soul, but there is one important "but" - unlike Satan God knows the outcome of each such fight. As to the statement that tests have been sent to solve the "secret", namely, how Job will react to them it sounds a bit senselessly from the theological point of view. Can you imagine that God Who sees the heart of the man and judges his intentions required proving to Himself sincerity of the faith of Job? Besides, God is out of time that is why he knows how we will act before this or that action will be made. So, for example, was with Peter to whom the Lord has predicted, that he will renounce him three times before the cock will cry. So was with Judas whose treachery Christ expected even before «the Satan has entered into his heart». It turns out, that God does not need to prove anything to Himself – He knows all.
Then, perhaps, God proves something to Job? God torments Job, perhaps, to prove to Job, that he, Job, loves God sincerely and disinterestedly? A little sadistic version, isn’t it? In that case there is a question – is God love if He acts in such a way? What sane father will torture the child to be sure of his love or to make the child understand that he loves the father despite of everything? All these versions as it seems to me are rather superficial and artificial but, nevertheless, we hear them today in Church more often than any other.
However if such explanations of sufferings of Job can satisfy modern Christians they will hardly satisfy orthodox Jews, whose understanding of God is based not only on the statement of the Divine sovereignty, but also on declaration of His justice. If we decide that it is wrong to question Divine justice we thereby undermine the fundamental role of justice in faith of Israel. The divine justice was always as important for Israel as the Divine power. To remove a question on the Divine justice would mean to remain with God whom we glorify only for His power. But it is impossible for Israel. If Israel knows anything about God, it is that God is fair.
John Drain writes that long before events of the book of Job wise men from Babylon to Egypt faced a problem of suffering of kind people, «but in Israel two circumstances gave to this theme a special sharpness: Israel believed, that God manages a life of this world, and believed also, that God operates in strict conformity with morals principles». But can we say that our and Divine conception about justice does not differ from each other? Well, it could be so, but then does God have either moral, or legislative ground for judging man? Is it possible to judge the one who does not know the law, or even unable to know for what he is judged? C. S. Lewis, arguing over a theme of the Divine goodness in the context of human sufferings, asks the same question: «…if His moral judgment differs from ours so strongly, that "black" for us can be "white" for Him, we have not the right to name Him good; after all, saying that the Lord is good but his goodness is unlike anything we call goodness amounts to saying that He possesses a quality unknown to us». Thus, Lewis comes to conclusion that in this case «we are left with no moral bases for loving Him and even for submitting to Him». Lewis continues the argument:« If He is not “kind”, not "good" in our sense of the word, we submit only from fear, but fear can make us obey the all-powerful evil. The doctrine of complete human nothingness, i.e. that our idea of good does not suit anywhere, is capable to transform Christianity into worshipping demons».
However the internal conflict experienced by Job at the moment of his tragedy was the conflict of comparison of its habitual understanding of righteousness with now unknown to him justice of God. Stricken by terrible illness Job thinks about it in terms of justice. Therefore at once he looks for the answer to a question «for what?», and only later we hear Job asking another question «what kind of God?» Job starts an infinite stream of reasoning over the question tearing apart his soul. His habitual understanding of God and the Divine wisdom does not satisfy Job any more: he understands that answers available to him are absolutely useless in a present situation. The success formula «be good and you will reap the blessing» which Job selflessly followed has failed him, and he needed to find an explanation. Job suffered, and he clearly understood that he did not suffer for a particular sin but then who can explain: for what? The question about the reason of the sufferings is the central question of the book (and also one of the most important questions which we face in life), and we will later answer it, but now let's return to the question about the righteousness of Job.
Traditionally the Book of Job is considered in the light of already cited verses about the righteousness of Job though in some cases focus nevertheless extends to two first chapters. We will try to look at this book in the light of the general Bible Revelation.
Despite that fact that in the Bible certain people (like Noah and Job) have been named righteous, at the same time the Bible not less definitely speaks to us about impossibility of absolute human righteousness. Moreover, the New Testament doctrine about salvation speaks about human righteousness as vicious and not sufficient to be justified before God and to find salvation. Even those who think that Job's sufferings are not a consequence of his sins admit that Job’s righteousness was not absolute. In opinion of “the prince of preachers”, Charles Spurgeon, «in the end Job became much better, than was in the beginning. At first he was «pure, fair, but in some measure proud». And later he even adds, that God has led Job to understanding of his sin. “Yes, Job required correction. All of us require it. No one can become so mature that he will not need correction”, - Bob Sordge writes. Also it is necessary to tell, that this author affords courageous enough judgment, comparing Job with all of us, considering the characteristic given to Job by God himself. The majority of conservative-minded Christians underline that Job was the most righteous person on the earth. And still it is necessary for us to answer this question: what righteousness did Job possess?
According to God Job’s righteousness consisted of four basic virtues: he was blameless, upright, feared of God and shunned evil. But each of these characteristics could concern only a life’s outer side, as Job's history shows. Job was blameless, but as Pierre Dumulen writes, «perfection can be lifeless». Job was upright, but only when it seemed to him so. Job feared God, but in his fear there was no love. Job sinned evil, but evil has not been expelled from his heart. And still it is necessary to agree with Sordge that disasters have fell on Job not for any secret sins as his friends accused him. Job lived absolutely obediently to that law which was known to him, and according to this law Job was the righteous person, moreover, he was the most righteous of all people living at that moment – as has been noted by God. But does it mean that Job has reached the limit of perfection and spiritual growth was not necessary for him? Does it mean that he has reached the level of God’s righteousness?
The Bible says Job had seven sons and gives a short inventory of his property: «He had seven thousand small cattle, three thousand the camels, five hundred pairs an oxen and five hundred she-asses, and a lot of servants; also he was more noble than all sons of the East» (Job 1:3). Pierre Dumulen makes an interesting observation that all figures in this history have symbolical character, - Job's all property was multiple to figure ten, meaning human perfection, and each of its combinations bears in itself special meaning. Thus Job feels secure because he was surrounded not simply with material riches, but he was abounding with spiritual virtues and talents. «He was destined to loose all in order to receive something much greater».
Sometimes analyzing my life I ask a question: what do I search more – God or His blessing? Perhaps, for some this question will sound too offensive, but actually it is one of the central questions set by the Christ in the gospels. Material blessings in a life of the Israelites were a consequence of the obeying the conditions of the covenant which God made with them. However, at the moment of the beginning of service of Jesus Christ, Israel, remaining in the religious tradition the nation worshipping Yahweh, in the real life has ceased worshipping Yahweh: and most vividly it was seen in their relation to the material benefits. According to some theologians, service of the Christ has begun in 26 year of our era, and this was a Jubilee Year in Israel. Judaic anniversaries were directed against social injustice and were celebrated once in fifty years. Celebrating of anniversary year should remind Israel of the one to Whom they are obliged by the material benefits; therefore both Saturday, and anniversary year was, first of all, display of their belief and a symbol of their accessory to the precept people.
It all shows us that the Divine blessings come to our life only as the consequence of our faith in The one Who is their source. When we aspire to receive the Divine blessings but at the same time forget about God, the feeling of self-sufficiency imperceptibly comes to our life.
Something similar happens with Job. He feels self-sufficient: «Job for the time being was satisfied with his own blamelessness and piety. He worshiped God and obeyed His precepts therefore he did not need anything or anybody, he himself managed his life and did not understand his poverty and the impossibility to live without God’s direct participation and support». Drawing a parallel with the religious environment of our days we can say that Job had the greatest church: it did not require any support, on the contrary, others have been compelled to seek its favor. Those days in Arabia there was no anybody who would not know Job. There was no person who would not wish to achieve the same success.
Job was just, but was it Divine righteousness or only his own, human righteousness? Actually, God is not necessary to the self-righteous person, even if a part of his human righteousness is the recognition of and worship to God. It is possible to be the person of religion, it is possible to visit religious meetings, to participate in religious actions and holidays, it is possible to make all it to have a righteous appearance, but God does not require it at all. In days of Job it was impossible to be not religious – all people without exception believed in a God, but here is a question: in what god and how they trusted? Job was a righteous man, but did he know God personally? Or this he was only going to discover?
Atheistic times have sunk into the past, and today again it is fashionable to be religious. Many people assert that they believe in God, but if we to ask in which god they trust, we will not hear the unequivocal answer any more. As a rule, this god does not possess personal characteristics and, more likely, will be something like a universal reason infinitely removed from the world of men, quiet and indifferent, observing men "from above". Today, as well as in days of Job, many people are religious, moreover, many of them are righteous or at least try to be such, but thus there is a question, how many of them actually need God? How many of them need God as their Savior? However the faith does not consist only in one time recognition of God as God, and repentance does not consist in one time kneeling before Him in the presence of church on Sunday. Believing and repenting is a part of all our life. The believer feels the dependence on God every moment of his life. He does not repent just once but goes repenting toward God all his life. The repentance is not a one time event, but a process, and our salvation – not only something already come true, but also hope of the future.
The interesting fact is that the name Job in the Arabian language means "repentance", and many believe that Job has received this name only in the end of the story after "righteous person" has refused his righteousness and repented: «I heard about You hearing of an ear; now my eyes see You; therefore I renounce and repent in ashes » (Job.42:5-6). We will learn about it later, as for now let's return again to the beginning of this story.

Introduction: Job: Coming back to the Lost Humanity or Going toward True God

Small sufferings irritate us,
Great ones return us to ourselves.
J. Richter

The slogan of philosophy of existentialism «Find and understand yourself» becomes more and more relevant in the world where the man, being unable to understand himself, as never before feels internal emptiness: we do not know whence we have come, what for we are here and where finally we go to. We live in a century of pluralism noted by a special variety of religious systems and currents: people do not know today in what to trust and to whom to pray. Therefore trust everything and pray to everybody - just in case. Today they trust astrologists and the Chinese calendar, tomorrow - miracle power of icons and of sacred hallows, and the day after tomorrow they will go to a mosque or a Buddhist temple. The modern man simply does not know himself and has a rather vague idea about his true spiritual needs. That is why he also rushes about from "counter" to "counter" in «the market of religious offers» and does not find an adequate object of worship. Even atheists have definitively got confused today, some of them became agnostics and declared that they trust in something but precisely do not know in what. In our century people have lost themselves because they have once again lost God.
What can be said about those who call themselves Christians and claim that only they have full knowledge of the Unique True God? Do they know themselves? Have they actually experienced what so loudly declare, or simply deceive themselves and deceive all the world? It is not easy to give an objective answer to this question. However, analyzing my own life and life of those people with which the Lord has allowed me to communicate close enough, I have come to conclusion that we, Christians, do not always understand well enough what happens in our own life. We do not always see ourselves in the true light. And among Christians I met deeply unhappy, got confused in complexities of life and internal problems, people. Many of them are not sure why they go to a church. Some are in the church because they have grown in a believing family. Others were affected by the changes which have occurred in the public outlook: it became fashionable, almost necessary to be religious. The third «were saved by fear», the fourth were brought to the church by the humanitarian aid. But not having started to follow Christ, not having gone through cardinal spiritual changes at the personal level, these unhappy people have doomed themselves to a double life in which external acts do not correspond to internal motives. They have doomed themselves to a life in the world to which they do not belong. They have forced themselves to speak words in which they did not trust, to make actions which they did not understand, and they so have subordinated their thinking to the deceit that they could not distinguish the truth from lie, illusion from reality. And behind all this there is a dead religion in which there is no place for personal meeting of the man with God.
The religion makes us indifferent to God so in the heart of hearts we are hardly excited if He actually is or not, most likely we even are inclined to behave as if He does not exist. The religion searches and worships not that God Who is, but the one which is convenient. The religion preaches the birth of the Messiah, but there and then gives out a place of His birth to the Tyrant, hoping that he will not allow him to survive the next night. The religion sees Jesus miracles, but there and then demands signs to confirm that He is the Messiah. The religion solemnly welcomes Christ today with one only purpose – to crucify Him tomorrow. The religion proclaims Christ's coming but with all heart hopes that it does not happen or at least happens not soon. The religion preaches the Eternal Future, but is deeply roots itself in the earthly present.
The religion deprives our life of a spark of delight, transforming it in a daily routine. The religion says to us that we are for God no more than the mercenaries waiting for the termination of the contract and our task consists in not spending the talent given to us because «our Master is rigid and will search for his own». That is why all that He will give to us we will carefully save up – we will dig it in the earth. Religion is a cemetery for ideas, initiative and development. The religion deceives us convincing that we serve God but we actually do not know God. We are afraid of Him, as slaves are afraid of the whip of their master, from whom they will accept everything without lifting their head. The religion is that monster who deprives us of the Father who is eternally hastening towards his children. But religion also deprives us of the true image of ourselves because not knowing God we can never learn true ourselves.
But the religion thoroughly nourishes ours «daily piety» which is always satisfied, which compels to uplift even the prayers for children "as usually" so neither the form of these prayers, nor their content practically vary. Still the religion gives us our Sunday meetings in which we ask about descending of the Holy Spirit and about that freedom which He gives but in which neither for Spirit, nor for freedom simply there is no place, – all were occupied with religion which has told: God loves order. The ordinary and daily occurrence is that air which religion breathes, by what it exists. That is why any challenge to this kingdom of slumber, any ray of light piercing its darkness causes pain and discontent grimace on the face of the invariably dead and indifferent person of religion.
The religion makes us indifferent to everything, depriving of humanity, we do not empathize any more, we are not interested any more – and at the same time we pretend that in many respects we participate. But what from this "many" possesses true value, what from this "many" descendants will remember? And a more important question: what from this "many" God will "remember"? "Daily occurrence" is that word which is used by Antanas Matseina to describe in what we lose true ourselves, "indifference" is a word which uses Elie Wiesel, and I wish to use it to describe how we lose God.
What is "indifference"? A lack of responsibility or good education? And may be it is "sin"? Elie Wiesel, the winner of the Peace Nobel Prize, asserts that indifference is not so much sin but punishment. People of religion have punished themselves, having eliminated themselves from their own life, they have eliminated what in normal people we call humanity, ability to empathize and feel pity not because the letter of the law demands this but because in it we submit to call of our heart. Indifference makes people "artificial", their persons are eternally covered by "spiritually serious, pious, oppositely sugar masks. Under these masks one cannot find a real face because hypocrisy has already deformed it and perhaps even has destroyed it, so it is impossible to distinguish where the real and where the artificial face.
The religion deprived of alive, open and sincere relations with God, deprives us of possibility not only to know God, but also to have correct idea about ourselves. Not to know your true self is to live without God. The religion blinds us so much that we see neither ourselves nor God. Most strongly in the Scripture it is shown in the book of Job. «Book of Job is a cry to God of a man who cannot manage his life anymore; but this book is also the warning to those who is self-sufficient, who is able to survive in this world without God».
Here we see, how the most just man on the earth Job has been led away from a condition of false, not knowing true mutual relations with God, religiousness. God has not simply led Job from an ordinary, grey, religious condition, God has shaken out it as we shake out a dusty bag, releasing it from unnecessary stuff and dust. Job has not simply lost property, family, health, respect, prestige, religious and political authority, – together with all these Job has lost also himself. That old self which, probably, suited all sons of the East but which did not suit God. «Job's story is that without God and His light we cannot live in this world; for Job to understand it, it was required, that the Lord should pull out him as a tree from his well-being and has surrounded him with gloom: «I was quiet, but He has shaken me»(16:12). Job loses everything all to find, find God and then his true self, – Job's book says to us that we can find true ourselves only in God. And in this sense Job's book points us the connection of history of our life with Job's history. Job is also history of each of us. «Men always saw themselves in this character because during this or that moment of their existence they experience the same: the full impossibility to manage the life and absurdity of any human words in the face of finiteness, old age, illness and death», - wrote Pierre Dumulen. But also it is impossible to disagree with Dumulen that when reading Job's history we see ourselves not only in the protagonist but at some points we see ourselves in each character of this book.
«Meeting with true God, or back to humanity» is a book about salvation of each of us. In it is not present words about that abstract salvation from sins which is often preached in Church and which has no any real things in common with our real life. In this book I wished to show, how God saves us from us, returning to us that true image which He has created. The man has been deformed unrecognizably by the apostasy from God, and the meeting with Him for us is necessary to see those true selves for the sake of which the Christ has died. We need to see that man whose creation was envied by “the fallen angel”. We need to see that man for whom it "was necessary" For God to die.
Job's story helps us to open our essence, his physical sufferings are that spiritual desert of loneliness and misunderstanding which each of us passes on the way to alive and true relations with God. In search of an exit from this spiritual desert it is necessary for each of us to taste the real thirst similar to those which Job has gone through, having refused any attempt to satisfy this thirst by human methods and efforts. Only after we will cease to hope for human power, glory and wisdom, Divine power, glory and wisdom can come to our life.

среда, 14 июля 2010 г.

Из биографии Уинстона Черчиля

«Очень важно строить мосты и каналы и понимать, какие нагрузки действуют на эти сооружения, вычислять различные моменты, не говоря уже о том, чтобы подсчитать все звезды и даже вселенные и измерить, как далеко они находятся, предсказать затмения, появление комет и тому подобное. Я очень рад, что существует довольно много людей, имеющих прирожденный талант и тягу ко всему этому, как, например, великие шахматисты, которые вслепую играют одновременно шестнадцать партий и вскоре умирают от эпилепсии. Так им и надо! Впрочем, я надеюсь, что математики хорошо вознаграждены. Я обещаю, что не займу их место, если им вздумается забастовать, и не стану отбивать у них кусок хлеба.
Однажды у меня возникло ощущение, что я вдруг увидел всю глубину математики, а за ней еще более глубокую пропасть. Я увидел, так же, как кто-нибудь видит прохождение Венеры или даже процессию по поводу вступления в должность лорд-мэра, - количество, проходящее сквозь бесконечность и меняющее свой знак от плюса к минусу. Я видел в точности, как это происходило и почему отступничество было неизбежным и как один шаг включал и все остальные. Все было точно, как в политике. Но произошло это после обеда, и я только махнул рукой!
На самом деле, если бы пожилой, уставший от долгого сидения экзаменатор не задал бы именно этот вопрос о косинусах и тангенсах в их квадратном и даже кубическом состоянии, вопрос, который я по чистой случайности выучил меньше чем за неделю до этого, ни одна из последующих глав данной книги никогда не была написана. Возможно, я стал бы священником и читал бы ортодоксальные проповеди в духе дерзского противоречия до старости. Может быть, я стал бы финансистом и заработал бы целое состояние. Не исключено, что я уехал бы в какую-нибудь колонию, или «доминион», как их теперь называют, в надежде угодить им, или по крайней мере умиротворить, и таким образом сделал бы потрясающую карьеру а ля Линдсей Гордон или Сесил Родс. Может быть даже, я бы склонился к профессии юриста, и люди, которые сейчас благополучно хранят жуткие тайны своих преступлений, нашли бы своей конец на виселеце благодаря моей защите. Как бы там ни было, изменилась бы вся моя жизнь, а это, я думаю, в свою очередь, изменило другие жизни, которые в свою очередь… И так далее.
Но здесь мы, похоже, снова возвращаемся к математике, с которой я навсегда покончил в 1894 году. То, что экзаменатор задал именно этот вопрос, - то ли потому, что так было предусмотрено, то ли по собственной прихоти, - определило целую цепь событий моей жизни. С тех пор я не раз еще встречался с экзаменаторами государственных комиссий. Я видел их воочию. Более того, меня даже назначали их председателем. Я ими восхищаюсь. Я отношусь к ним с уважением. Мы все их уважаем. Но никто на свете, и меньше всего они сами, не мог бы предположить, что они способны играть такую решающую и кардинальную роль в человеческих судьбах. И это приводит меня к следующему выводу о свободе воли и предопределении, - обрати внимание, читатель: они идентичны».