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.
The 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.