Similarities Between The Book of Job and The Lincoln – Douglas Debates

The Book Of Job

When was the The Book Of Job written? Who wrote it? How did it become part of the Old Testament? We can only guess. What we do know is that God allowed Satan to test a good man’s love for God, and we know that man did not understand what was going on. We also know that Job debated three of his friends and a young man. Then God spoke.

What was the debate about? Job’s three friends insisted that Job had suffered the lost of his wealth, his children, and his health because of some hidden sin. Job defended himself; he knew that was not true. Unfortunately, when Job defended himself, he blamed God, and God does no wrong.

When the young man spoke, near the end of the debate, perhaps he spoke most wisely. Yet he did not get it quite right either. So God finally entered and finished the debate. He did not explain why Job had suffered so much. What He made clear is that we are not God.

Similarities To The Lincoln – Douglas Debates

The Book Of Job begins in God’s throne room, and we are allowed to understand what Job and his friends could not. Satan insisted upon testing Job. Proud of Job, God allowed that testing.  Similarly, we know what Abraham Lincoln and Senator Stephen Douglas could not know when they debated each other in the Lincoln – Douglas Debates. We know the history that followed. With the advantage of hindsight, we understand that blacks are not an inferior race. With the advantage of hindsight, we appreciate the evil of slavery and how that vile sin divided our nation and nearly destroyed it.

Yet our window into God’s throne room and our present-day hindsight give us only limited advantages. Just as we cannot appreciate fully what it was to be Job and his contemporaries, we cannot fully put ourselves into Lincoln’s and Douglas’ shoes. When they saw a black man, what did they think? Why? What don’t we know that has been lost in time?

To what extent do Job and his friends, Lincoln and Douglas reveal their thoughts in their great debates? Have you ever thought the language of Job and his friends impossibly elegant? Have you ever studied the debates of Lincoln and Douglas? Both debates provide extraordinary windows into the thinking of brilliant men now dead. The Book Of Job differs only in one major respect. Through that book God speaks.

Approaches To The Truth

In 1967 Dr. J. Veron McGee began Thru the Bible. Because he had his programs recorded, we can appreciate his insights today (5-Year Series in MP3). When he commented upon the The Book Of Job, McGee observed that each of Job’s friends takes a different approach to the Truth:  one represents experience, another tradition, and a third legalism (or law). On the other hand, the young man represents revealed truth, and he comes closest to the Truth. When God spoke, only He revealed what is True.

Is McGee’s analysis of Job is relevant to our present-day search for Truth? Yes. According to this Wikipedia article, Criteria of truth, we have a large variety of ways of discerning the truth. Nonetheless, there remain essentially four methods that people use to assess what is True.

  • Experience: Experiential truths come from our senses. Ideally, such truths we gain from experimentation and thoughtful analysis. However, ESP, discoveries in the “fossil records”, and various sorts of unique personal experiences (e.g., being kidnapped by a UFO) can also be chalked up to experience. Experience just involves examining the evidence of our senses deciding what must be true.
  • Tradition: Traditional truths are the beliefs passed down to us from previous generations. These truths have one major virtue. They have survived the test of time. Nevertheless, traditions differ between peoples, and the reasons for that can be puzzling.
  • Law: Law is truth promulgated by an authority. That authority could be a legal authority, an expert, majority opinion, and so forth. Because law depends on which authority, which expert, which majority (time and place), and so forth; laws differ with respect to time and place.
  • Revelation: Because revealed truths come to us from God, we ordinarily associate such truths with religion. Unfortunately, different religions teach different Truths, and they cannot all be the Truth. Therefore, we also debate the truth of revealed truth.

So which of these four methods of arriving at the truth is best, and how is that relevant to the Lincoln – Douglas Debates?

See AN EXAMPLE OF BIGOTRY — PART 1 for a list of the posts in this series.

Check in tomorrow for AN EXAMPLE OF BIGOTRY — PART 4.