Yeah I am thumbing back through Job these days. I, as a non-philosopher, had never before considered the book of Job as a philosophical work containing points and principles of interest to such as Plato and Socrates. Thats interesting to know, I suspose sooner of later all serious thinkers end up facing the same major issues and problems.
(Callicles from Georgias? I never even heard of that cat! I would have guessed: "A Metal-Rock Band ♫♫ somewhere in Europe, ha.)
Here are my very short observations on some of the issues you referenced:
“Are we justified by faith alone, or by works also?”__J
The New Testament Pauline doctrine of Justification by Faith Alone is strong enough to be inarguable for a man that accepts the truth of 2 Tim. 3:16-17, and also the book of James is strong enough to establish that any man who is in fact justified by faith alone is going to have some good works as evidence of his faith.
Faith is the foundation and means of our justification and good works are the evidences and fruits that our genuine faith produced, otherwise the New Testament is destroyed
as a hopeless contradiction, that is to say, Paul and James must be harmonized else one can hang up Christianity as contradictory nonsense.
Moreover, its not difficult to see why a N.T. writer [James] would insist that a “faith” without any good works would be a dead faith IE a false faith and no faith at all.
( /grin … Btw, I recall reading long ago that Luther once refered to the book of James as a “right strawy epistle” but I think he later came around to the above view?)
“Is the suffering of the innocent consistent with a just God?”__J
The truth is the words “human” and “innocent” are genuine oxymorons. Adolph Hitler was once a cuddly “innocent” baby. From our limited human perspective Hitler at age 2 had not yet murdered and burned up 6 million human beings. But I cannot give up the Omniscience of God: God saw the life of Hitler not unfolding in gradual progression, but rather as one completed whole unit. On this truth-reality of perfect justice based upon complete knowledge, perfect justice would demand the immediate destruction of the entire human race. (Very important point: The correct and just demands of perfect Justice was satisfied here: Rom.3:21-28. Thereby leaving Love, Mercy, and Grace free to began the gradual millenniums long process of redeeming the fallen race of men.)
I include myself and all men in that up there. At age two I was guilty, in principle, of all crimes known to man. The only reason I did not grow up and actually commit those crimes was because of God’s mercy and grace. The only thing about me or any human that is innocent is the imputed righteousness of Christ to our account, what Paul called “credited righteousness” in Rom.4:18 through Rom.5:2 IE Christ’s righteousness and His innocence was imputed or credited to us.
“To what extent can we know God through reason?”__J
My view is: If we didn’t have the Scriptures as our guide, and had only our reason’s capacity to analyze the natural world of men and things as our means of knowing God, that we’d end up mostly ignorant of the true God. For example, one man looks at the huge vicious wars going on within the insect and animal world and concludes that the true God is a warrior killer.
Another man looks at the huge number of endless acts of love and kindness going on throughout the world and concludes God is nothing but love and kindness.
My view is the Scriptures give us the proper balance, the true God is both a Warrior [“The Lord is a Warrior” Ex. 3:15] and a Lover of humanity [John 3:16], that is to say, the Sovereign God is loving and compassionate in His character but He is not a wimpy pushover that will not stand His ground against men who demand the right to do evil at their whims therby destroying or making more difficult the advancement of the New Testament’s Love-Mercy-Grace solutions to humanity’s problems and delimmas.
In the war between Evil and Love, Love wins, but Love is not a wimp and Love’s Warrior will do whatever it takes to stop evil [eg. World War II] from becoming institutionalized and over-powering or making more difficult the advancement of the New Testament’s Love-Mercy-Grace solutions throughout the Earth. On the big picture we’re gaining ground, Christendom started out with a mere handful in the 1st century just a short 2000 years ago, we now have over 2 billion world wide, and the human race is just in it’s infancy, we’re only in kindergarten, historically speaking.
We might end up disagreeing here, but maybe not?
Its true I can never completely understand the Being of God and can never fully understand His attributes, at least not in my present state (our sinful natures are totally removed before God’s people enter Heaven), and maybe not even fully in the next life in Heaven. I would hate to have the job of proving true, from the Scriptures or from reason, the propostion: “At some point we will know all there is to know about God.” … ( I’ll pass on that job.)
Take for example His attribute of Love:
[“God is love” I John 4:8]
I can never know and understand fully the Love of God. In order for me to be able to do that I would have to know and understand everything God knows and understands, thats true because His knowledge of Himself is connected into one whole unit. That means all His attributes such as Love, Mercy, Grace, Holiness, Infinitude, Omnipotence, Omnipresence, Unchangeableness, etc are connected and have a relationship to each other, so that God is by nature a consistent Being.
It is utterly impossible for me to fully know and understand all the above and that which I listed is just a small fraction of all that makes up the Being of God. And again, it may well be that no human beings will ever come to know in all of Eternity, all there is to know about the Being of God. (All this is true with regard to His wrath as well, 'course His wrath hath an end on the time line, but His Love never does end, thats cheerful news.)
Now here comes the elements I feel most concerned about:
God has made it very easy for me to understand enough about His attrubute of Love so that I can do a decent job of loving my family and loving other people by bestowing upon them acts of kindness and compassion, while putting up with their faults, sins, and imperfections. God has given me all the knowledge and understanding that I need in order to actually do this. I have plenty of understanding-knowledge for now, about how to actually get this done. God, so to speak, is waiting on me to fully use what I already know, I am not waiting on Him to give me more knowledge and understanding.
So the truth is I already know more about God’s Love than I actually use, that true to my shame that I have a surplus of knowledge and understanding of God’s Love, how so? Well, because sometime my sorry butt fails badly to do what I should do in the area of following God in His demonstrated examples of how-to-love. I have Christ as an example of what the Love of God looks like in action here in the real world of men, yet sometimes I am unkind and unloving.
So I think I can do as you suggest and “distinguish between God as he actually is in himself, and God as we finite human beings experience him” and at the same time know enough about Him so that I can live a good moral life, love my family, love my friends and neighbors, do good deeds, do acts of kindness, feed and nurture faith, seek to learn more about God, enjoy good music, good literature, and life in general.