A) Explain what is meant in the Bible by the phrase “God is good.”
Many worshippers of God like to believe that he is intrinsically good; this means that he is good in himself. People try to argue this by the Bible and through many things in the Bible such as the 10 commandments and the creation of the universe as well as the many miracles of the Saints. God is seen to act morally good as he creates a world which is seen to be good, therefore he must be. “God saw that it was good, and it was good.”
The Ten Commandments show us what good is according to God. The Ten Commandments explain to us how we should act and what our religious and social duties should be. God could be said to be showing his love for this through these laws. Another common biblical image of God is that of a judge to whom we all answer to, however, if God is seen as a judge “Psalms 75:7 But God is the Judge; He puts down one and exalts another,” then he must be trying to divide the good from the bad, we could see this as God trying to protect the people who worship him from the sinners, however it is hard to distinguish the bad from the good. The Ten Commandments offer a guide for this, so that we can see what is wrong and what is right, so therefore we could see this as a good act of God as throughout the Bible God demonstrates his desire for justice for his people. People may follow the Ten Commandments because they are scared of the possibility of going to Hell or that they are so full of faith for the Lord that they follow them without thinking, that if it is the wish of God then they must act and follow these rules. The Old Testament displays God as being vengeful and punishing those who sin, whereas in the New he is seen as being forgiving and loving. These are two sides of God which keep people obeying the Ten Commandments, as there are two opinions of him, one that he is punishing and the other that he is forgiving. God also punishes those because he loves all people and love involves showing another what they have done is wrong so they can learn from it. God could be seen as good, as even though he punishes those who have sinned, if they repent they can go to Heaven, which means he gives everyone a chance.
God is a transcendent being therefore some people believe that we cannot understand God’s actions as it is far too complex for us to comprehend. This is written in the Bible with the story of Issac and Abraham. In Genesis 22 as a test for Abraham God says to him “Take your son, your only son, Issac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering.” Abraham responded to God’s command with immediate obedience. Christians believe that if we obey God without question and trust that His plan is best we exalt His qualities and praise Him. Due to Abraham’s unwavering trust and faith in God provides Christians with an example they must follow. As God saw Abraham’s belief in Him an Angel came down to Abraham and told him he could sacrifice a ram instead. God uses Abraham’s faith as an example of the type of faith required for salvation. This type of faith in the Lord is the basis for the Christian religion and that we should follow in this way when we receive the Christian faith for the sacrifice God made for our sins, Jesus Christ. We may not know what He has planned but that it must be for the greater good so we must follow His wishes.
Not only do people have faith in God, but in the Bible and that we are lead to believe God is good and nothing else. Jesus Christ preformed many miracles in the Bible such as feeding the 5,000, raising a widow’s son from the dead and healing a paralysed man as well as many more. Not only that but there are over 10,000 people that have been canonised including St. Joan of Arc, St. Francis of Assisi and St. Valentine. To become a Saint you have to perform a miracle and it be recognised by the Catholic Church. Miracles bring much happiness and joy to people and the act can rarely be explained, surely these acts are a great act of God and must be good if they bring happiness. People also believe God is good because he keeps human kind in some sort of order. Law breaking is bad therefore we are punished if we do break the law. The law is there to make us be good individuals and do the right thing according to society. When we follow the law we are told we are being good and are rewarded with a chance to go to Heaven, this is told to us in the Bible. A chance at getting to Heaven is an incentive for us to do good deeds and abide the law. We then read from this that if we are good we are rewarded and if we are bad we are punished which keeps people abiding by the law and why so many people over thousands of years have been scared at the prospect of going to Hell. People could view this as God keeping us in line and not letting us stray and do the wrong thing; in essence he is saving us from going to Hell by creating laws and putting them in place so we know what is right and wrong.
In conclusion, the phrase “God is good” in the Bible means that God in himself is good, he can never be otherwise as he is just good. His acts are good and the punishment he inflicts on others is so they change their ways and realise what they’ve done and repent their sins. He does this out of love for every human as we are created in his image and he wants us all to be cleansed of sin and go to Heaven. He uses the Ten Commandments to set these guidelines for us and help us on our journey to Heaven as well as showing us some of his goodness with the miracles that can occur in this world. The miracles that we hear of in the Bible make many people wonder what Heaven is actually like if something so great is described and it makes people seek out repentance as well as being good ourselves so we are allowed to go to Heaven.
B) “It is difficult to believe in a God who is perfectly good.” (10)
Many sceptics of God and the Christian faith think that it’s hard to believe there is a God that is good in himself and can’t be anything but that. Not only that but many people also believe that he is not good, as so much punishment is shown in the Old Testament and the idea that God created Hell in the first place to punish people who sin. People argue that if God is omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent and omnibenevolent he would not let natural disasters to happen, even though Christians say natural disasters happen to punish humankind for our sins.
The Lord God of the Scriptures says this about himself. “For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.” As well as this, it is also written in Psalm 5:5 “You hate all who do wrong,” therefore it is hard to believe that God is a forgiving and loving God who accepts everyone, if he hates all who do wrong, even if they are regretful about it. In many different scriptures God is described as wrathful and punishes those who do wrong, this was most likely written to stop people from sinning and obey the 10 Commandments. This still does not make people want to believe in him, however, and many people question whether God can be perfectly good if he is punishing those who do the slightest thing wrong even if it was to help someone else. If God is being described as jealous and hateful, then we can deduce that he is not all good as he has a capacity to hate, which is seen as negative by most. He is also described as warmongering as he constantly is battling evil and Satan. People could say these wars are necessary and that he must protect us from Hell and the Devil, however in the New Testament it completely goes against this describing him as peaceful and forgiving so it is difficult to know whether he is punishing the sinners for the rest of humankind’s benefit or that he is just being hateful towards anyway who slightly steps out of line.
Moreover, the story of Abraham and Issac also challenge our idea of God being all peaceful as he asks Abraham to sacrifice his son which he is willing to do. A lot of non-believers would ask why God asks this in the first place as it seems completely morally wrong to tell a father to kill his only child. Christians argue this was to test Abraham’s faith in God, but surely Abraham would feel conflicted about doing this if he cared for Issac at all. This could tell people who do not believe in God that God almost corrupts people who worship him as they think that is the most important thing to do in life and nothing else. This could be an example of one of the ways God isn’t perfectly good if he commands the people who follow him to kill their own children to prove they have faith in him.
Not only that but if there is evil in the world to start with, God must have created this evil, therefore how can he be all good? God created Hell and all his Angels, Lucifer, one of his angels was cast out from Heaven and sent to Hell where he became known as the Devil. God did not create evil as nothing evil can come from God. Satan and other demons were at first good angels, created by God, but they became evil of their own free will, given by God. This “fall” was a free choice of these created spirits, who rejected God and his reign. Therefore Christians would say that it was not God’s fault however he created Heaven and Hell therefore he must have known or
considered there to be some evil in the world.
Many people can see why Christians believe in God, that there are so many different texts saying he is our protector and that he loves humankind and is forgiving and all-knowing. However I do agree with the statement “It is difficult to believe in a God who is perfectly good,” as there are many texts that also say he is vengeful, wrathful and warmongering. It says he is hateful and that he condemns sinners so it’s hard to believe in a God when there are two sides to the story. When there are stories of God commanding people to kill their children to prove their faith and that God created Hell in the first place. Christians like to believe in God for security as they believe him to be intrinsically good, but how do they know this is true when there is so much punishment and hate in some of the scriptures describing him. This is why many people are sceptical that he exists and if he is actually all good.