Since penning the post titled, "Yes, Steve Jobs, R.I.P., was an innovating genius. But...", I've been interested in finding out a bit more about Jobs' thoughts about or attitudes toward Christianity. This USA Today article about a new and detailed (650 pages) biography of Jobs written by Walter Isaacson contains this little nugget:
The book begins with a portrait of the young Jobs, who was rebellious toward the parents who raised him and dismissive of the ones who gave him up for adoption. Such feelings of abandonment probably contributed to Jobs' controlling nature as an adult, Isaacson writes, but he mercifully does not psychoanalyze in the book.
Jobs fell out with Christianity early in life. "The juice goes out of Christianity when it becomes too based on faith rather than on living like Jesus or seeing the world as Jesus saw it," he told Isaacson. "I think different religions are different doors to the same house. Sometimes I think the house exists, and sometimes I don't. It's the great mystery."
It's hardly surprising that Jobs apparently embraced the tired "all paths are equal and lead to the same place, etc." approach that came into its own when he was in his youth. The comment about Jesus and faith is more interesting to me because it suggests that Jobs wasn't well acquainted with what Jesus actually said about faith; my guess is that he (raised Lutheran) suffered through rotten catechesis (as did many Catholics) as a child. Whatever the case, it seems he didn't know that the person and message of Jesus were intimately bound up with the necessity and reality of faith:
• Jesus chastised people for not exhibiting faith (Mt 6:30; 8:26; 14:31; 16:8; 17:20; 23:23; Mk 4:40; Lk 8:25; 12:28; etc.)
• Jesus praised and acknowledged those, especially Gentiles, who displayed faith (Mt. 8:10; 9:2, 22, 29; 15:28; Mk 2:5; 10:52; Lk 5:20; 7:9, 50; 8:48; etc.)
• Jesus exhorted his disciples to have faith (Mt 21:22ff; Mk. 11:22, etc.)
In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus specifically tells his head apostle, Peter: "Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail; and when you have turned again, strengthen your brethren" (Lk 22:31-32).
Meanwhile, one of the key themes in the Gospel of John is that of belief in Jesus Christ and the gospel vs. disbelief and rejection of Jesus as Son of God and Savior. For example:
• Jesus answered them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent." (Jn 6:29)
• Jesus answered them, "I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father's name, they bear witness to me; but you do not believe, because you do not belong to my sheep. (Jn 10:25-26)
• "Let not your hearts be troubled; believe in God, believe also in me." (Jn 14:1)
• Jesus said to him, "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe." (Jn 20:29)
Yes, it is a great mystery. But it is a mystery that can be known, encountered, touched, and experienced because the mystery is the Incarnation, as the Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy: "Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of our religion: He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated in the Spirit, seen by angels, preached among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory" (1 Tim 3:16).
I don't write this only because Steve Jobs believed this or that, but because I'm fairly certain that was he said in the quote above is what a great number of people believe—or at least will find agreeable. As I said in my first post, Jobs was a great innovator in many ways, but when it came to theology and philosophy, his public remarks were rather trite and run of the mill and very much reflect the dominant Zeitgeist.
Just to be clear (for all of those who struggle with careful, critical reading): I am not a Steve Jobs hater; I don't think Steve Jobs is in hell (that's not my business); I don't wish for Jobs to be in hell (quite the contrary); I don't think I'm a better person than Steve Jobs; I don't think Steve Jobs is the antiChrist, nor do I think he is a god. Still, having provided such a disclaimer, I'm sure there will be some curious comments!
UPDATE (Oct. 26, 2011): CNN asks, "Are we turning Steve Jobs into a saint?" Responses vary.