The book of Job (particularly Job 1:1-2:13 and 38:1-42:17) constitutes what is commonly referred to as a “theodicy.” What is theodicy? How is the “problem of evil” typically set out? Is the answer to the problem of evil in the Job satisfactory?

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Let's start by stating that theodicy is a debated topic. Different Christians interpret it differently, different denominations interpret it differently, and different ministers teach about it differently. This is because the Bible and biblical teachings are often up for interpretation. Theodicy is absolutely one of those topics. This means that...

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Let's start by stating that theodicy is a debated topic. Different Christians interpret it differently, different denominations interpret it differently, and different ministers teach about it differently. This is because the Bible and biblical teachings are often up for interpretation. Theodicy is absolutely one of those topics. This means that the answer to your final question about whether or not Job's answer to the problem of evil is satisfactory is, 'it depends.' For some people, Job perfectly explains theodicy, but others don't find Job definitive at all.

Theodicy and "the problem of evil" come hand in hand. Theodicy is an explanation of why a perfectly good, omnipotent, omnipresent, and all-knowing God permits evil. In many definitions, the word "permit" is used when discussing theodicy. This is a key word in the definition because it shows that God isn't necessarily the being that creates and administers evil. God allows it to happen, and that is why the first two chapters of Job are often cited. Job 1 opens with God and Satan talking about Job. God says that Job is a great man, and Satan says that it because God has been good to him. Satan wants God to test Job's faith, so Satan wants God to do evil to Job. God doesn't agree to do evil to Job, but God says that Satan is permitted to do it.

9 “Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. 10 “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 herds are spread throughout the land. 11 But now stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.”

12 The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.”

Job's life is then destroyed. He loses everything. People are killed, his wealth is lost, and his health is abysmal. His friends and family members tell him to curse God and be done with it, but Job never does this.

22 In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.

The beginning of Job is solid evidence that God allows suffering to happen, but the main part of theodicy is why God allows it to happen. This is the part that is very much debated, and there isn't a single definitive answer; therefore, I'll provide a few of the reasons. God permits evil to happen to display his power. This seems counter-intuitive, but I can offer a fairly simple explanation. Evil happens when God takes a "hands off" approach to his creation. Suffering then happens, and God's power is displayed by his ability to end the suffering and right the wrongs. God's power is wonderfully displayed when everything is going well. Unfortunately, people tend to forget about God when everything is going great. This brings up another possible reason as to why God permits evil. Often, people that are suffering tend to turn toward faith and God. When it becomes obvious that solving a problem is beyond the power of human actions, turning toward a higher power is seen as legitimate. By allowing evil and suffering to happen, God is drawing people closer to him. Almost the entire book of Judges focuses on this motif.

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