Is the Christian God Good? Are Non-Christians Good?

god is good all the time

Is the Christian God good?

Does the Christian God expect humans to be good?

Every Christian, regardless of what denomination they are a part of will answer both of these questions with a resounding YES.

One local church outside of the town I live in regularly uses this little ditty in their worship services:

God is Good all the time. All the time God is Good.

If God is good all the time and God expects human beings to be good, then it seems that God should at least be as good as the human beings he expects to be good.

Is the Christian God as good as good human beings?

Do we see a good God in the Bible? One would be hard pressed, after reading the Bible, to conclude that God is good all the time. Yes, God does do some good, but the Bible is filled with violent, murderous, capricious acts done by God that no human would call good.

Christians will object I am sure and say God is not bound by the same standard of goodness as humans. So, God expects humans to live by a standard he is unwilling to keep? God, because he is God, can do whatever he wants even if it means acting in ways that no human would call good?

Humans judge goodness based on actions. Good people DO good things. Good people ACT good. Good people live lives of goodness. Sure, they fail from time to time, but, for the most part, they try to live good lives.

human goodnessThe Bible says humans are dead in trespasses and sin and they can’t do good. The only way a person can ever do good is to become a Christian. Then the person will have the Holy Spirit living inside them and they will be able to do good. But even then, all the good the Christian does is because of Jesus. Any bad the Christian does is their own fault, but any good they do is because of the relationship they have with God.

An additional problem is introduced by saying that goodness is the domain of Christians alone. Why is it that so many Christians aren’t good? If God saves the Christian and God lives inside the Christian it would seem that the Christian would always do good.

The Christian has free will, someone is sure to say. Yes, God lives inside every Christian but the Christian has free will and they can choose how they want to live. So, a Christian’s free will is more powerful than God? God can not overcome the Christian’s free will and force them to do good?  God then, is not as powerful as Christians claim. He can be stymied by human free will.

This whole scenario is quite strange. A good God that doesn’t do good because he can do whatever he wants. (of course if doing what he wants is not an act of goodness then I must conclude that God does evil acts) God requires all human beings to be good, yet he does not give them the power to do so.  He empowers all Christians to be good by living inside of them, yet there are times when they are not good. I conclude that God is stymied by the Christian’s free will and is unable to force the Christian to do good.  Is such a powerless God worthy of worship?

The truth is there is no God. No God of goodness, who does good according to a different standard than what he expects human beings to follow. There is no God that lives inside of Christians influencing them to do acts of goodness, acts that God himself is not required to do.

Good people do good. I have said many times that, fortunately, many Christians are far better people than the God they worship. Millions of Christians go about their lives every day trying to do good. What they fail to realize is that they are doing good because they are good and not because a God made them good. Theists and nontheists alike do good. Their acts of goodness have nothing to do with a God.

The next time someone does good and you benefit from it thank the person who did the good. Don’t shoot a prayer to the heavens thanking a not-so-good fictional God for the goodness in your life. Good people do good things and they are the ones that deserve the praise.

Let me conclude this post with a prayer Jimmy Stewart prayed in the 1965 movie Shenandoah:

“Lord, we cleared this land. We plowed it, sowed it, and harvest it. We cook the harvest. It wouldn’t be here and we wouldn’t be eating it if we hadn’t done it all ourselves. We worked dog-bone hard for every crumb and morsel, but we thank you Lord just the same for the food we’re about to eat, amen.”

Stewart rightly understood where goodness comes from.

Comments (11)

  1. mikespeir

    God doesn’t necessarily DO good, he just IS good. Don’t get the two confused. ;-)

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      Thanks for straightening me out. :)

      Reply
  2. Lynn123

    Amen, Bruce! There are many good people in this world, and lots of them happen to be Christians. If the whole lot of them became atheists, they’d still go right on being good people. It’s just who they are. Same with good Jews, good Muslims, good Mormons, etc.

    God himself has started to bore me lately. Mikespeir said God doesn’t necessarily do good; he just is good. My thought is , “who cares?” God is an invisible person who everybody talks about, but nobody ever sees. They can attribute to him whatever they feel like, and it really doesn’t matter or affect anything. It’s all a bunch of talk. Meaningless.

    Reply
  3. Tony

    yeah cause god is so good he thinks its okay to own others as porperty

    Reply
  4. Tony

    also bruce there is something i want to ask you about bible slavery were is a good place to ask on your blog?

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)
      Reply
  5. Dale

    Oddly enough, the fruit of the spirit called Goodness is what started the unraveling of a stubbornly-held faith in my fundamentalist life.

    I was to fill in for our regular Young Adults Sunday School teacher the next Sunday, so I began studying and preparing my notes about Goodness, as we were studying each of the FOTS every Sunday. So I started with how we are known by our fruits whether or not we belong to God. When we show goodness to others, we are showing them the Spirit of God within us…and then I thought about the hateful, deceitful, hypocritical attitudes I had witnessed from so many Christian friends and family throughout my life. I thought about friends who didn’t hold any particular belief showing compassion and care for others without any expectation of quid pro quo.

    Wow, I guess I never allowed myself to dwell on this for long (Get Thee Behind Me with that Logical Thinking, Satan!). But this time, I did. So if a non-Christian shows fruits of the spirit…does that make him/her a Christian? Those who boast of their faith and then treat those unlike them spitefully…they’re really not Christians?

    I put a lesson together in time for class, something that was non-confrontational and in line with what most everyone in that class believed. Yet that was the point where the genie was out of the bottle for me.

    Reply
  6. FlowerChild

    Most people I have encountered who brainlessly repeat the God is Good mantra…tend to be the ones who have never left their secure bubble of first world privilege. It is easy to assume divine intent behind the problems they encounter: a flat tire (which results in a chance to shove a bible tract at the hapless roadside assistance responder), a delayed flight (which earned you a lunch voucher! And you have ample PTO accrued at your salaried job, so you are in no hurry anyway), a missed opportunity ( when a door closes, a window opens, something better will be in store), financial “troubles” (translated: we have to keep our perfectly fine older car instead of buying a new one every 3 yrs, or, we can’t travel to the beach this year, we have to vacation locally. But we get vacation time either way)

    Then there are the people who encounter the gritty side of life: sexual assault, chronic disease for no reason, domestic violence, racism, bigotry. Or the ones who pay attention to the news and see the mess that exists overseas, the genocide, war, and famine….and they start to think about it, and realize that to all appearance, this good God is only truly good to white, rich, middle-class folks. It would seem that the people who really need his “goodness” don’t qualify for te benefit or something. These people are the ones who realize it doesn’t add up. And those I have spoken to who retain their faith, admit to dark times when they doubt said goodness, because it doesn’t make sense. But the fear of being punished for unbelief is greater, so they pretend on.

    Reply
  7. Becky Wiren

    Hi Flower child, I agree with most of what you said. But I know firm Christians who have gone through hell on earth, who still believe firmly. However, the ones I know who went through hell are much kinder, sweeter, and less judgmental than the privileged ones. In short, they have empathy. But I think you’re right about the white privilege. I have many super conservative Christian relatives who are bigots. :(

    Reply
  8. FlowerChild

    Becky, you’re right. There are some who still believe, and yes, they tend to be kinder and empathetic. Y forgot about them cuz it’s been a while since. I’ve met one. But I do know a few people who through the hard times, remain a picture of what. I fondly imagine Jesus was like if he existed as described.

    These are the people who see the horrors in the world, and go do something about it. I suspect they would be that way regardless of faith, because they are good people. Hopefully there are more of those in the mainstream church than we see evidence of.
    :D

    Reply
    1. Becky Wiren

      I hope so, I really do!

      Reply

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