Expecting Reciprocity with God

michelangelo-the-prophet-jeremiahWestern man diabolically insists on being successful even in the adventure with God.  If he gives of himself to God, he expects reciprocity.  He also reaches a covenant with God, but this covenant is a mercantile one.  In a primitive manner, he wants to trade ‘favors’ and exchange goods.  The gesture of faith is for him a give-and-take affair and reflects the philosophy of Job, which led to catastrophe—a philosophy that sees faith as a quid pro quo arrangement and expects compensation for each sacrifice one offers.  Therefore modern man puts up demands that faith adapt itself to the mood and temper of modern times.  He does not discriminate between translated religion formulated in cultural categories—which are certainly fluid since they have been evolved by the creative human consciousness—and the pure faith commitment that is as unchangeable as eternity itself.

—Rabbi Joesph B. Soloveitchik, The Lonely Man of Faith

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