This post is written from an Evangelical perspective.
Is the Christian God good?
Does the Christian God expect humans to be good?
Every Christian regardless of what sect/denomination/church they are a part of will answer both of these questions with a resounding YES.
Sonrise Community Church, a nearby Evangelical church, uses this little ditty in their worship services and has the first part of it plastered on the front of their building:
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 to me that God should at least be as good as the humans he expects to be good.
Is the Christian God as good as good humans are?
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. The Bible does show God doing good, but the Bible also records violent, murderous, capricious acts done by God that no rational person would call good.
Christians will object 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 behavior. 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. Wait a minute, the Christian says, the Bible says all humans are dead in trespasses and sin. According to the Bible, they can’t do good. The only way a person can ever do good is to become a born again/saved Christian. Then the person will have the Holy Spirit living inside them and they will be able to do good.
If goodness is the domain of Christians alone, why is it that so many Christians aren’t good? If God saves and lives inside Christians, shouldn’t Christians have the power to always do good? Christians have free will, someone is sure to say. Yes, God lives inside every Christian, but they have free will and they can choose how they want to live. This kind of thinking necessarily leads to the conclusion that Christians are, in some circumstances, more powerful than God. God can’t overcome Christian free will and force them to do good? God, then, is not as powerful as Christians claim.
This whole scenario is quite strange; A good God that doesn’t do good because he can do whatever he wants. If God doing what he wants is not an act of goodness, then I must conclude that God does evil. As the stories of the Bible clearly show, the Christian God can act in ways that rational humans would call bad or evil. God requires/demands Christians be good and he empowers them to be good by living inside of them, yet there are times they are not good. I must conclude that God is stymied by Christian free will and is unable to force them to do good. Is such a powerless God worthy of worship?
I think that the God of the Christian Bible is a myth. No God of goodness, who acts according to a different standard from what he expects humans 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 better 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, not because a deity made them good. Theists and non-theists 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 who deserve the praise.
Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.
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