Monday, October 15, 2012

The Meaning of the World

From one Swiss theologian and pastor talking about the book of Job to another, this time Wilhelm Vischer. He was in fact Barth's pastor at one point, which I imagine couldn't help but be daunting. Nevertheless, his essay "God's Truth and Man's Lie" displays a Barth-esque flair and form that makes me think there were no feelings of inferiority, but only a shared vision for what this task of expounding the Word of God is all about: Jesus Christ.

Anyway, here is the gist of what Vischer sees as the (true) theology operational within the Book of Job:

The relationship between God and man cannot and may not be based on profit. To be sure, a man may attempt to misuse God to his profit. But how could a man be "worth" anything to God? The Almighty has no need for insignificant man. And yet he has created him and marked him out above all other creatures as though creation were designed for him, as though man were the goal and meaning of the whole creation. Why and for what purpose does God want to have man? If man can be of no profit to him, then God must have a deeper aim. Then it must surely be nothing other than that wonderfully incomprehensible delight which God wills to have in and with this man. Thus Job understood God and the meaning of his own human life.

The essay ends on a similar note: is not purpose nor profit but God's free, joyous goodness which is the meaning and ground of the world and of all creatures which live in it. The speech of God in the Book of Job proclaims it in matchless brightness in answer to the dark speculations of the human heart.

Precisely this joyful tidings is the answer to the question of the whole book. The question was posed from Heaven: "Does Job fear God for nought?" The attempt to answer it has become a counter question of Job to Heaven: "Who are you? What are you? my God. Are you, as the/ friends preach, the God of law, of rewards and punishments? Or are you my friend out of incomprehensible goodness and pure fidelity, precisely and wholly for nought?"

 One thinks of the Father's declaration as Jesus is baptised:

This is my Son, in whom I am well pleased.

Characteristic of the life of God is not law or economy, but pleasure and delight.

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