Can God be described as “good”?

(Mervin Bitikofer) #41

You’re right … God doesn’t answer Job’s questions. But then on that same score, look who gets the commendations at the end of the whole narrative. It is most decidedly not Job’s friends who have basically been giving him the same sorts of messages: “who are you to question God”. Instead, glowing mention is reserved for the one who was busy hurling his challenges and protests at God!

So … when the soldiers in the trenches are said to suggest:

I don’t think that’s actually a completely biblical attitude to have. To hear scriptures tell it, God expects us to have enough moral sense about us to shake our fists at the sky when the occasion demands. The greats in the Bible were often busy wrestling with God rather than just going meekly into that night.

(Mitchell W McKain) #42

You seem to be confusing definition with cause. These are totally different things! The function of a definition is only to pinpoint what you are talking about not to explain the origin and cause of the thing. Your complaint would only be valid if you are now suggesting that God may or may not have created the universe. But if you are absolutely sure that God created the universe then “the guy who created the universe” would be an adequate means of specifying who we are talking about.

But by this whole thing you seem to be dodging the discussion since it was in response to my pointing out that creating the universe did not necessarily mean this being is good. And you have not shown in any other way how the being you ask us to presuppose is good either. So I don’t understand why you would get hung up on this definition as the creator anyway – what is the point of your complaint, ESPECIALLY if you are not simply jumping on any chance to score points!

I made no argument whatsoever that god is not separate from creation thus this “argument” you are arguing against is a total fantasy that you have fabricated out of thin air. In fact, I am willing to bet that I am even more extreme than you are in insisting that God is totally separate from creation. For me this is the whole point of the laws of nature, so that the universe can and does exist entirely separate from God.

(Roger A. Sawtelle) #43

Clearly the universe is separate from God, but it cannot be entirely separate from God, because the universe has a Beginning, God created it out of nothing. When I create something, it is not entirely separate from me.

When God created the universe it was not entirely separate from God, because God is the Source of all. This does not mean that the universe is a part of God. God created the universe in such a way that God does not control the universe, but God guides or manages it.

God gives the universe meaning, purpose, and direction. “The Lord is my Shepherd.”

(Albert Leo) #44

Hi Randy
To get several perspectives on Chardin’s thought, I recommend Ilia Delio’s book, "From Teilhard to Omega". best wishes,
Al Leo

(Dominik Kowalski) #45

I always think that if there is good there has to be evil and vice versa. If free will exists to act as God wishes, there also have to be temptation and the possibility to do the opposite. I don´t have much time right now, thats why I just want to say that Aquinas in his Summa theologica gave his five proofs of God and derived from it the attributes like goodness and love. Sadly I didn´t have the time to read it yet but Edward Feser worked on it for decades and I´m currently reading his beginners guide to Aquinas. So if you want to read on this topics St.Thomas is the perfect place.

(Mitchell W McKain) #46

Agreed. The point is that God really created something substantial apart from Himself and He did it right so He doesn’t have to keep holding it together by magic as if the laws of nature he devised are inadequate.

Mostly agreed. He created the universe to interact with it, not to simply watch from a distance. He is a part of our lives and He contributes to the events in our lives as part of an intimate relationship with us.

The theological terminology is theism as opposed to pan(en)theism and deism.

(Roger A. Sawtelle) #47

I thought you told me that you were not a fan of conspiracy theories and magic.

Satan has no power over the human spirit, except that you allow him.

(Shawn T Murphy) #48

Hey Roger,
How is St. Fulbert of Charters printed in the Anglican song book a conspiracy or magic?

Jesus says specifically that He is not the king of this world. He also says He is from above and we are from below. We are under the thumb of Satan, and we must choose to stop serving the king of this world and start serving the King of Heaven.

Then said the Jews, Will he kill himself? because he saith, Whither I go, ye cannot come. And he said unto them, Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world. (John 8:22-23)

How can this nonorthodox or conspiracy. It is clearly written in the Bible?

(Tom Larkin) #49

Reference the instructions of Jesus that I fail to follow - he told the rich young ruler to give his money to the poor, he tells us if someone asks for your shirt, give him you coat as well, love not only your brother but your enemy as well.

What would our county and our world look like if we followed this?

I also find it comforting that God feels our pain when we suffer. Before Jesus raised Lazarus, he stopped and wept with Mary and Martha. I would have just said “I can fix this”. He said that not a sparrow falls without God knowing it, and how much more valuable are we to God than a sparrow?

(Tom Larkin) #50

Many scholars have stated that the Jewish faith is a refined version of other Ancient Near East (ANE) polytheistic religions, but the concept of God only being good is a radical break from these other religions.

In all polytheistic religions, gods are created or born and are destroyed or die. They are both good and bad and they are governed by a metaphysical realm. Humans can tap into this metaphysical realm to gain favor or control over gods through the use of magic. This seems also true of all the superhero movies and the Star Wars franchises.

With this radical break from any other religion, God is the creator of all things and not governed by any metaphysical realm. He can be self limiting as you described, he cannot go against His Word - for example, if we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, he cannot allow us to perish (John 3:16).

God, as an example of his goodness did send his Son as a ransom for many so we would not have to pay the penalty for our own sin.

It would be interesting to see what this world would be like if we treated each other as true brothers and sisters as Jesus instructed. In this life, we see through a glass darkly (1Cor13:12) and we are limited in our ability to see the goodness of God. I believe in the next life, we will be without our sin nature and treat others as true brothers and sisters and truly see the goodness of God.

(Patrick moore) #51

In polytheistic religions you often have a God or Gods who represent forces that we see in life, and you typically see some sort of duality between good and evil as a result.

Monotheism in contrast has a problem - if there is only one God then good AND evil presumably come from that one God - or you need some fancy footwork to explain why that isn’t the case.

The bible says a lot of things, and we can all quite selectively to back a particular arguement.

On the o e hand you have Christ saying “whoever has seen me has seen the Father” and yet in the other hand you have God wagering with Satan that Satan can’t get Job to curse God - and I. So doing unleashing a huge amount of tragedy into Job’s life - ostensibly to prove how great God is. In many other parts of the Bible you have Paul or God saying that He deliberately sends troubles to not just the wicked but also his followers.

Things are further complicated by the fact that God retains the ability and right to act unilaterally if he wishes (the Flood for example). So if God CAN act, why doesn’t he act more frequently?

This might sound academic to us as we try to digest too much Christmas turkey, but to a 3 year old orphan in Yemen who is dying of hunger and dysentery its a very real question.

It’s deeply confusing and one of the hardest things to accept is that when you have seen Jesus you have seen the Father. So much so that an extremely erudite Rabb friend of mine genuinely thinks that Christianity is a polytheistic religion given the enormous differences between the members of the trinity.

(Tom Larkin) #52

Any scripture must be interpreted in the context of the entire scripture (all 66 books). You need to know who is talking to who and what was the time period (age of Law, age of Grace, e.g. Cain and Job were under neither Law or Grace). Many cults have been built on taking scripture out of context.

(Tom Larkin) #53

The doctrine of the Trinity can be argued from Old Testament scripture alone. The term used for God in Genesis 1 (among many other sections) is Elohim. One hour on Duolingo will let you know the letters yod mem at the end of a noun indicate the plural, but interesting enough, the singular form of the verb is used with Elohim, to me this indicates the Trinity. The Holy Spirit is termed the “Spirit of God” in the Old Testament, meaning God acting through an individual, just as it is in the New Testament. There are frequent uses of this term, especially in the Judges.

Jesus is all throughout the Old Testament as the Creator and as the intercessor just as He is in the New Testament. He is referred to in the Old Testament as “the Angel of the Lord”. It is Jesus that wrestles with Jacob (note that Jacobs names the place Penuel or “facing God”. The most striking example of this in the Old Testament for me is in Zechariah 3 (Joshua and Satan) where the Angel of the Lord forgives the sins of Joshua and turns his garment white as snow. Only God can forgive our sins.

Jesus was and is our intercessor between man and God. He came heavily viewed in human flesh and was self limiting when He was a man (e.g. he was not omnipresent as he is today and he stated “only the Father” knows the time of Jesus’ return). He fully experienced being human.

I hope this helped.

(Cindy) #54

God defines what is good. God has all of the facts while we are missing most of them.

I rescue cats and that some times involves doing things like cramming a pill down their throat. The pill is to get rid of parasites that will eventually kill them if left alone so it’s for their good. All they know and understand though is that I’m cramming a nasty pill down their throat and to them that is bad.

God more complex and above us than we are to animals like cats. It is no wonder that what we see as “bad” may actually be “good”.

(Tom Larkin) #55

I strongly believe He intercedes more than we realize. I give give you one example from my experience where I am very sure he interceded (being a man of science I realize that this is not statistically significant.

I was sick one day. I thought “no problem, take some cold medicine and go to work” but when I stood I felt lightheaded and dizzy, so I decided to take a sick day. I typically take 1, maybe two a year. My wife was taking our two young children to see a math tutor, my wife came running upstairs that my son did not return from putting his backpack in the trunk and asked me to go look for him while she called the police. I went outside, calling his name, luckily walked in the correct direction and heard someone running off into the woods. I found my son caught up in some briars where someone had dragged him off in the woods. It could have been a coincidence that I was sick that day, but I don’t think so.

I think there are many other times when God intercedes, I think it is important to watch for these and give Him credit.

(Tom Larkin) #56

God created the angels and man as free moral agents. We (I include myself) choose to move apart from God and this is the source of evil. Note that Lucifer’s and Adam and Eve’s choices were driven by pride, in Proverbs 6 pride is listed first and last on the things that God hates.

I do not know why my 8 year old second cousin had to die from brain cancer. I cannot see any good that could come out of her sickness, struggle and death, but I cannot see all things. All we can do is follow the commandments of Jesus to treat all men as brothers and sisters (including that child in Yemen) and do the most we can for them. I think if all believers did this, amazing things would happen.

I know my cousin and her husband have since done a great deal to raise funding for cancer research, awareness and most importantly to help families going through the pure torture they had gone through.

(Patrick moore) #57


I actually agree with all you have said, both in what you have actually written as well as the spirit in which it is written.

I also have seen amazing healing miracles performed on a fairly regular basis at the church I attend, which I have alluded to earlier in this thread.

Ones that I have seen with my own eyes that happened to people I know (so I know there was absolutely no faking) was my sister in law falling pregnant within two weeks of receiving prayer (after having spent over £100k over the course of about 7-8 years on infertility treatments). A whleechair bound woman with advanced MS who was incapable of speech, or moving her arms, who heard the gospel and in the act of giving her life to Christ was able to speak for the first time in years and raise her arms, and my mother who was almost incapable of walking with crippling arthritis, who on receiving prayer was able to immediately walk and even run and whose legs have remained strong and pain free ever since. As I have mentioned earlier these miracles as lacking any sort of mercy from God.

I have absolutely no issues with Jesus and the HS, my problem is with the Father and seeing that manifestation of God as “good”, which may be partly down to my own psychology and family background.

I think getting a better understanding of both the trinity and the balance we see in the bible between justice and mercy, which is mediated in the cross, might be the way forward for me in beginning to see God the Father as good and in having a relationship with Him.

(Roger A. Sawtelle) #58

Shawn wrote> Yes, there is little evidence left in the Bible and in doctrine, but still exists in song.

The conspiracy exists in the alleged fact that “they” were able to miraculously eliminate the evidence of the Truth from the Bible and doctrine Have you looked in the gnostic gospels?.

Context, my friend, context. Pilate asks Jesus if He were King of the Jews. He does not answer directly saying that His kingdom is not of this world, it is spiritual, not political.

Jesus did come from God and humans particularly the Pharisees are people of sin, but you are caught up in dualism, which is not true. Satan has no power over humans, but sin does. The view that Satan is the king of this world indicates he has power over this world which is false.

Satan is a Liar and the Father of Lies. He has no power except to deceive, like his son. There is no dualism.

(Shawn T Murphy) #59

Up until he was conquered by Jesus, Satan had 100% rule over humanity. The new covenant that Jesus’ victory brought, limits Satan’s power over humanity, but he still has power over this who follow him. Satan is Sin and humanity belongs to him until they choose Jesus.

(Mitchell W McKain) #60

No! Those are two separate issues. The very idea that God has facts which are relevant means that God does NOT define what is good, and that God is commanding them because they are good in of themselves. It means that things are good or bad for a reason and God knows what those reasons are. But that means we can discover some of those reasons for ourselves and they are sufficient to show us what is good.

Absolutely! There is an element of position and responsibility in the question of what is moral. While cutting people open is bad thing for most people to do, it is not a bad thing for surgeons to do in the process of their work to save people’s lives. For the theistic evolutionist, God is someone who has to do some extremely harsh things in order to create life especially if He has a hand in directing it to produce sentient beings like ourselves. This is one of the reasons the complaints of atheists about genocide in the Bible doesn’t convince me. It seems all too likely to me that God’s work in raising up mankind out of the muck is going to require some very harsh measures.