A lot of Christians are insistent that in the Book of Job, the friends are always wrong and Job himself never spoke wrongly. They will cite Job 42:7 where God says to the friends that “you have not spoken of Me what is right as My servant Job has.”
Note: This article was written before the author’s conversion to Orthodoxy.
One notable, and zanier, proponent of this view is Steven Anderson; but he is hardly alone. He would have most interpreters in church history on his side.
So, how can I have the gall to say that Steven Anderson and everyone else like Thomas Aquinas and Gregory the Great are clearly wrong?
1. God says, “Now gird up your loins like a man; I will ask you, and you instruct Me. Will you really annul My judgment? Will you condemn Me that you may be justified” (Job 40:7-8).
Here, God clearly takes issue with the fact that Job presumes upon instructing Him what is just, and that in doing so, condemns Him. How can we say Job spoke without error without also saying that one can condemn God and not be in error as well?
2. Job says, “Therefore I retract, and I repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:6).
Here Job repents. Repents of what? Obviously, he had to repent of something. We know he committed no specific sin before he suffered, so he would have to repent of something after that point.
Clearly, he repents of condemning God. He says, in no uncertain words, “I retract.” Yes, the very words Martin Luther refused to say to the Catholic Church, because he would not retract the Gospel.
Yet, Job retracts something. What does he retract? He retracts his statements that condemn God.
The moral of the story? Church History is massively important, and we need to evaluate our interpretations against men of God of old with our own. However, they can be wrong because no man is inerrant. When the Scripture clearly shows that even a time honored teaching is wrong, we have to go with the Scripture, not tradition.