Answering Young Steve Jobs: the Challenge

On my posting on about Steve Jobs the commenter suggested that while pastors are commenting on Job’s life, no one is commenting on the episode in Isaacson’s biography about Steve Jobs leaving the church as a young teen. This is the quote from the biography.
Steve Jobs (Walter Isaacson)
– Highlight Loc. 543-48 | Added on Monday, October 24, 2011, 08:57 PM

Even though they were not fervent about their faith, Jobs’s parents wanted him to have a religious upbringing, so they took him to the Lutheran church most Sundays. That came to an end when he was thirteen. In July 1968 Life magazine published a shocking cover showing a pair of starving children in Biafra. Jobs took it to Sunday school and confronted the church’s pastor. “If I raise my finger, will God know which one I’m going to raise even before I do it?” The pastor answered, “Yes, God knows everything.” Jobs then pulled out the Life cover and asked, “Well, does God know about this and what’s going to happen to those children?”

This problem/challenge is very common and well known throughout the history of the Christian church (and Jewish tradition). It’s sometimes called “the problem of suffering”, CS Lewis wrote a book addressing it called “The Problem of Pain.” It is the central question to most of Philip Yancey’s numerous books and Alvin Plantinga has written extensively on in terms of the philosophical challenge. Even with all of this treatment the question is commonly seen as a “defeater belief” with respect to believing in an all knowing, all good, all powerful god as the Christian tradition asserts. To summarize Alvin Plantinga’s conclusion this is finally not a philosophical challenge, but rather a pastoral challenge.

As with many things the question itself is not the whole of the challenge. A lot of what surrounds the question itself deeply impacts the challenge and so it will be a lot of that which I will treat in my answer.

It’s also the case that there is a lot to say as should be evident from the fact that the likes of CS Lewis, Philip Yancey, Alvin Plantinga and more have spent decades of their lives and pages of books responding to it. The young Steve Jobs would likely have had something that could be reduced into a sentence. That would be nice, and there may be sentences that might satisfy a number of young inquirers. In fact when Yhwh responds to Job his response is both longer and shorter than a sentence. The text is in the book, but the manifestation of God’s glory and power caused Job to say “I place my hand over my mouth.” One might ask why God does not show up for every thirteen or thirty years old that asks this question. That too involves a longish response.

What I hope to do, probably breaking it up into a series of shorter pieces (because that seems to be how people prefer to take things in from blogs) will be to respond to the challenge of the young Steve Jobs.

My life to has its challenges, often involving time and energy and my defect in self-management too often see me starting more tasks than I can complete. We’ll see how I do.

The first installment will have to do with the challenge of pastorally answering anyone on anything. As a pastor, I know this challenge and I live with it every day. Stay tuned. pvk

About PaulVK

Husband, Father of 5, Pastor
This entry was posted in philosophical reflection. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Answering Young Steve Jobs: the Challenge

  1. Pingback: Answering Young Steve Jobs: The Idolatry of Answers |

  2. Pingback: Answering Young Steve Jobs: The Problem of Judgment |

  3. Pingback: Answering Young Steve Jobs: The Problem of Expectations |

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