"Is not thy wickedness great? And thine iniquities infinite?" asked one of Job's "comforters" (Job 22:5)? Did Job subscribe to this theory of sin? Did he accept the "infinite" sin theory that is employed to justify the doctrine of eternal torment? I see no indication in the book of Job that Job held such a view of sin. In fact, he seemed to have a very opposite opinion. Consider Job 7:21: "And why dost thou not pardon my transgression, and take away my iniquity?"
Now this statement might seem harmless enough--the exasperated petition of an anguished soul who surely felt like his punishment far exceeded whatever transgression he might have committed. In fact, the verse is fairly easy to dismiss. But that would be a mistake, for it goes directly to the issue of just how serious sin really is. Here we have Job undergoing tremendous travail. Calamity follows calamity with no end in sight. Finally, an exasperated Job says, in effect: Okay, if all of this is due to a sin, then why can't you just forgive it already and move on? Why the need for this intense, protracted punishment?
Now consider the implications of such a sentiment. If sin is infinite, then Job was utterly delusional. Here we have a man admitting that maybe, just maybe, he did commit a sin. Now, if this is true, and the conventional theology is also true, then Job is in a most precarious position here. He has offended God infinitely. He has offended Him so deeply that no amount of punishment could ever suffice. But does Job have any sense of this? Do his words reflect the idea that he may have done something worthy of eternal punishment? To the contrary, he seems to think that even if he did sin he has already received a more than sufficient punishment.
But there is another, perhaps even more important, element to his words. They reflect a particular attitude toward forgiveness. Calvinist theology teaches that it is not inherently better for God to forgive than to punish. If it were, then of course He would have to forgive everyone in the end. The fact that He doesn't demonstrates that it is not inherently better to forgive than to punish. Each course of action equally demonstrates God's glory.
Did Job think this way? Did he think that forgiveness was just one of two equally valid options available to God? Or did he think it was the better option. Let's look at his words again: "And why dost thou not pardon my transgression, and take away mine iniquity?" It seems that Job thought that God ought to forgive him. It seems that Job thought that punishment ought to have a limit.
The Creator Owes Us Nothing
Another central tenet of Calvinism is the idea that the Creator owes nothing to His creation. The mere fact that He created us entitles Him to do with us as He pleases, with no regard whatsoever for how it affects us. Once again, their theology seems at odds with Job's understanding of the matter. He says "Is it good unto thee that thou shouldst oppress, that thou shouldst despise the work of thine hands . . . Thine hands have made me and fashioned me together round about; yet thou dost destroy me. Remember, I beseech thee, that thou hast made me as the clay; and wilt thou bring me into dust again?" (Job 10:9)
Job clearly sees a natural relationship between creation and preservation. Apparently he thinks the two should go together. He seemed to think that the act of creation entails a certain degree of obligation on the part of the Creator. This stands in stark contrast to the Calvinist notion that God's status as Creator absolves Him of all responsibility toward His creatures.
In opposition to these assertions, one might point to the fact that God, upon finally appearing to Job in the whirlwind, proceeded to overwhelm him into an admission of his own insignificance. This is true. But bear in mind that God reserved his harshest rebuke not for Job, but for his "comforters." Indeed He said that Job had spoken rightly when all others had not (Job 42:7). If this is true--if Job spoke rightly with regard to sin and the Creator's obligation to His creatures--then conventional theology has a lot of explaining to do.