8 ¶ Surely thou hast spoken in mine hearing, and I have heard the voice of thy words, saying, 9 I am clean without transgression, I am innocent; neither is there iniquity in me. 10 Behold, he findeth occasions against me, he counteth me for his enemy, 11 He putteth my feet in the stocks, he marketh all my paths. 12 Behold, in this thou art not just: I will answer thee, that God is greater than man. 13 Why dost thou strive against him? for he giveth not account of any of his matters.
Elihu heard everything that Job had said. Job declared himself to be free from sin, with no iniquity in him. But, God treated him as an enemy and put him, in a manner of speaking, in a kind of imprisonment. This is clearly true from the vast bulk of Job’s arguments.
Elihu states that Job is not righteous in his speech (just and righteous are synonyms; see Psalm 7:9 and Ecclesiasties 8:14). His response to Job is, first, that God is greater than all of us. Why does Job argue against God, God who doesn’t answer to anyone, who has no need to justify his judgments? It is important to understand that God is the ultimate decider of what is right and wrong, what is just and unjust, not we ourselves. To say that man is the measure of all things, as Protagoras, the Greek traveling Sophist preacher said, according to Plato, is humanism. (34) The essence of true faith is acknowledging that all power, all standards, and all determinations of not only what is right but what is, period, is in God’s hands.
Humanism takes many forms, certainly more than simply an atheist complaining about the destruction of the Canaanites in the book of Joshua and calling it genocide. In the landmark book edited by Jerry Falwell, entitled The Fundamentalist Phenomenon, published in 1981, several key weaknesses of fundamentalism were acknowledged. One of these weaknesses was listed as, “The temptation to add to the Gospel.”(35) I would add that the temptation to add to the Bible, to twist its meaning by wrenching verses and even words out of context to make them mean what the speaker desires them to mean at the moment, and to add man’s will to God’s will or to replace His will with the speakers’ own on the pretext that they are men or women of God and He has laid something on their hearts is fundamentalism’s greatest weakness and most profound heresy. Do you use God’s word or does it use you?
God is the measure of all things. To say otherwise is to place your mind out of the realm of understanding anything about life clearly. You will never understand why you or others suffer either joy or pain until you grasp that concept. No church council nor the heart-felt statements of any preacher, no matter how well-loved, can substitute for God’s clear statements of fact without descending into humanistic and very dangerous, manipulative, and even abusive absurdity.
(34) Plato, “Theaetetus”, Plato in Twelve Volumes, Vol. 12 translated by Harold N. Fowler (Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann Ltd. 1921).
(35) Jerry Falwell, Ed Dobson, & Ed Hindson, eds., The Fundamentalist Phenomenon: The Resurgence of Conservative Christianity (Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Co., 1981), 181.