At the end of the epic poem Job the Lord answers the main character Job with a series of questions that help establish his perspective on his Creator.
In chapters 40 and 41 he asks Job to consider the Behemoth and the Leviathan which seem to be large creatures that we could equate with “pre-historic” dinosaurs like the Brachiosaurus and the Mosasaurus (made famous in Jurassic Park).
In the intervening millennia, we may not be able to behold the Behemoth nor the Leviathan as it seems Job was. However, we have been afforded the great privilege of living during a time of great discoveries about the universe. What we are able to behold is perhaps even more incredible than these creatures were.
This got me thinking. How might the Lord respond to a person today that struggles with the problems of evil, justice and the vastness of the universe. This exploration relies on various scriptures and replaces the Behemoth and the Leviathan with some of the majestic images from the farthest reaches of the universe.
Reading, actually listening during my commute, to Tim Keller’s King’s Cross, one chapter at a time has provided lots of time to reflect on Jesus and our response to Him. The book presents Jesus as seen through Mark (the Gospel writer) and Keller. The purpose, much like the works of C.S. Lewis, is to show the reader how Jesus’ “life makes sense of ours.”
It is an extended meditation on the historical Christian premise that Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection form the central event of cosmic and human history as well as the central organizing principle of our own lives.
In chapter 3, Keller explores the scene where the paralytic, carried by four men, is brought to Jesus, through the roof.
When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”
As Keller unpacks this passage, and what Jesus has done, he explores what might have gone through the head of the paralytic as he heard these words. As he does he presents us with the problem of “if only” thinking, which goes something like this:
You may be wondering how I am still employed in the field of educating young tempters after that dismal failure Wormwood. It is with some relish that I can report that the failures of a nephew are not visited upon the uncle. At least not too harshly. You may further find yourself thinking that you are in the very unfortunate position of having someone like myself as your guide, as you seek to become more proficient at keeping patients away from our Enemy. Just remember that the student does not surpass his teacher and that the gap between you and myself is quite vast. I have, as I am sure you have heard, enjoyed a fair bit of success in the realm of tempting. You’ll have plenty of room to learn and grow.
Now RotRing, I note from your latest report that you are wondering about some advice I gave some time ago, to that dreadful nephew of mine, regarding the use of science. At that time I wrote that tempters should ‘not attempt to use science as a defence against Christianity’ as it would ‘encourage patients to think about realities they can’t touch and see’. Each age has a distinctive set of characteristics -as you, I am sure, remember from your studies – and we must be mindful of them so that we can better craft strategies for dealing with your patient.
In this age, in which your patient is living, there is a great deal of thinking about science. This could have been a disaster for us, but without much effort on our part things have managed to turn in our favor on this matter. When I gave Wormwood the advice about science, I also reminded him that they ‘find it all but impossible to believe in the unfamiliar while the familiar is before their eyes’. This is still true. Science has now made many ‘unfamiliar’ things far more ‘familiar’ to your patient. Continue reading →