Good God

Is God Evil or Good? Let’s Not Ignore Jesus and His Strong Opinion. Luke 11.

It’s a real issue — Is God evil or good? There are strong arguments … But Jesus takes a vigorous stand on the “God is good” side.

Is God evil or good?Some teachers answer “Is God evil or good?” with a statement: “God is good”
BUT ALSO with a theology and practice that says
God is vindictive, hateful, violent, wildly arbitrary. Sadly it can look like their God is actually the Devil.

Jesus did not think that way. He lived and taught that God is very, very good.

Is God Evil or Good? The Bible often teaches that God is Good,

sometimes with very direct statements like these from the Psalms:

Ps 25:8
Good and upright is the Lord; therefore he instructs sinners in his ways.
Ps 34:8
Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.
Ps 73:28
But as for me, it is good to be near God.
Ps 100:5
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
Ps 135:3
Praise the Lord, for the Lord is good; sing praise to his name, for that is pleasant.
Ps 145:9
The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made.

Still, there is evidence that God is truly evil.

Here are three areas of evidence for that idea:

ONE. The Bible.

In addition to all that teaching about a Good God, the Bible also has God either requiring or allowing or seeming to approve of really vile, violent, contemptible behaviors.  It often seems the Bible leaves the question open – Is God Evil or Good?

TWO. There are explicit theologies or ways of teaching about the Bible that make God out to be a monster –

hateful, arbitrary, irresponsible, hating much of his own creation, viciously violent, picky picky – a really nasty God. They usually claim that this God they teach about is “good”, but then they go on to describe him (almost always a “him”) as being profoundly evil.

[ See Also on PublicChristian:
The Petty God ]

THREE. Human experience

shows a lot of a similar destructive randomness, unconcern, viciousness, hate, etc. We see it happening to persons we know and love, to contemporaries we hear about; we see it all throughout human history – and church history. It’s ugly stuff.

We feel the profound tension in our own experience. There is beauty and there is ugliness! There is pain and delight. There is love and hate; there is truth and fraud. Am I not right? I’m sure we feel it if we are paying attention at all.

How can God be good if THIS (whatever specific thing) happened? To me. Or to someone. Or to something. Here. Or somewhere. Now or recently or in the past? And those things ARE always happening. How can God be good if this world – especially the human world – is like it is? And it IS like it is!

This is a problem. And it sits with us right now, surrounds us. I can’t answer these intense questions nor explain them away – except in theoretical ways. But we live in this real world, not a theoretical one.  So – in this world, Is God Evil or Good?

However – I can provide at least a response, one that is quite meaningful to me:

[ SEE ALSO on PublicChristian.com:
Everything is Damaged – Crucial Fact 2 of 4
There’s Beauty All Around – Crucial Fact 1 of 4 ]

What Can We Learn From Jesus?

Jesus clearly wanted us to believe that God is good, that God’s care extends to all of creation, that God’s love and care for all of creation will in fact win. Jesus taught that. And if we are listening to him today, he is still teaching that.

Please, says Jesus. This is important. God will be found. Meaning will be found. Goodness will be found. Love will be found. Even peace will be found. And ultimately security will be found.

Of course, many “Christians” don’t feel they need to listen to Jesus. He died for our sins – that’s all that matters. They’d rather listen to Moses – or Fox “News” – or even DJ Trump. But that’s a mistake. You can’t believe in Jesus without respecting him. Really. You can’t. You can’t “receive” someone whom you go on to ignore on all the major issues of life. Really.

Do you think Jesus is so stupid he cannot see through that?! We need to listen better to Jesus.

[ SEE ALSO on PublicChristian.com:
What If Christians Don’t Listen to Jesus? See 5 Very Short, Very Important Stories from Matthew 7
6 Ways to Believe in Jesus Without Taking Him Seriously ]

Here’s one short passage – from Luke 11 – that makes clear how deeply Jesus believes that God is good,

and fully worthy of our allegiance. I’m going to quote the passage so you can refer directly to it if desired .

But first, an outline.

This Scripture has two parts; the second part has three brief arguments:

  1. Teach us to pray (Lord’s Prayer, abbreviated version)
  2. Jesus, done teaching prayer, gives three statements about the value of approaching God
    1. Interrupting a friend’s sleep (do approach God)
    2. Ask, Seek, Knock urged as a general approach. Be hungry; be persistent.
    3. Human fathers give good things to their children. God always gives the very best gift – the Holy Spirit.
      The sum? God is good and the “risk” of approaching God is not a risk at all (though it may feel like it). THIS is what Jesus chooses to emphasize when asked about how to pray. Hmm …

Luke 11:1-12

1 One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”
2 He said to them, “When you pray, say:
“‘Father,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come.
3 Give us each day our daily bread.
4 Forgive us our sins,
for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.
And lead us not into temptation.’”
5 Then Jesus said to them, “Suppose you have a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; 6 a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have no food to offer him.’ 7 And suppose the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ 8 I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity he will surely get up and give you as much as you need.
9 “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
11 “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

Jesus’s intensity of focus here is not on how to pray –
which is what they asked him. It is surely a legitimate question. But instead he is intense, persistent, in stressing THIS:

It is very worthwhile to make one’s own unique human effort to “seek” God –

  • to approach,
  • to want to understand,
  • to petition,
  • to be needy in the presence of,
  • to stick with the project (not out of skill, but out of determination, out of longing).
  • to use various approaches, understanding the project in various terms,
    • “when you pray”
    • “shameless audacity,”
    • “ask,”
    • “seek,”
    • “knock.”

This sounds like Jesus is really concerned that we each embrace this project. Don’t worry about your “technique” or lack thereof in prayer – or whatever. Just throw yourself into this great life-project. He wants us to see the Good God, and that this is the highest calling for a human. Request, ask, seek, knock.

Seek and knock are clearly metaphorical. Do it how YOU can.
“Seek” means you haven’t found, at least not fully.
“Knock” means you are not yet an insider to something(s) or other, something(s) very worthwhile. That is not a DISqualification from knocking. That is a qualification for knocking! If you are, or at least feel, outside, Knock! Keep knocking!

Please, says Jesus. This is important.

  • God will be found.
  • Meaning will be found.
  • Goodness will be found.
  • Love will be found.
  • Even peace will be found.
  • And ultimately security will be found.

Go for it! Set your heart on this. Pursue it. As Psalm 84 (referred to below) expresses it, “set” your “heart” on “pilgrimage.” Make this an underlying and explicit drive, purpose, longing of life. Ask. Seek. Knock!
Why?
Because God is good. What you will be finding will be sooooo good!

If God is The Good God – Would This God Not Give The Sum of All Good Gifts?

When he says, at the end, that God will “give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him” it clearly means this is the greatest gift, or the sum of all good gifts.
And how could it be otherwise? This is the Creator-Spirit, the Healer-Spirit, the Love-Spirit, the Wisdom-Spirit.

Here are two descriptions of the quality of life the presence of the Holy Spirit induces:

Isaiah 11:2

  • The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—
    • the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
    • the Spirit of counsel and of might,
    • the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord—

Galatians 5:22-23

  • But the fruit of the Spirit is
    • love,
    • joy,
    • peace,
    • forbearance,
    • kindness,
    • goodness,
    • faithfulness,
    • gentleness
    • and self-control.
  • Against such things there is no law.

And this all is in the context of the violence and lies of the political and religious hierarchies – violence and lies that would arrest, torture, and murder even Jesus himself. It seems Jesus could clearly see that coming.
Yet he insists that God is good and well worth our confidence.
There are many other passages that lead us in that direction.

Here are a very few of them:

Matthew 10:16-31
Here his teaching faces, head-on, the lived context of hate and persecution against Jesus’s hearers (and in Luke 12 it faces head-on the hypocrisy of the powerful). You literally will be much, much better off in the long run, with the Good God. God’s care clearly extends to us.

Luke 18:15-17
Jesus welcomes little children: relative powerlessness does not invite God to be punitive – exactly the opposite. Our curiosity and interest are very much saving attitudes!

Psalm 84
Where God is, there is beauty and prosperity. These things are coming out of God’s “nature”, just by association. Now THAT is Good News!

What Does It Mean to Reject Jesus? Surely Ignoring Jesus Would Be an Effective Way to Reject Him.

But Can we “pick and choose” which teachings – or apparent teachings – of the Bible we will focus on, teach, and try to live by? Yes, we can. In fact we can’t avoid it!
1. We really have no choice. It’s too much – a human mind has to narrow down its focus. If you are “into the Bible” you WILL focus on some teachings and in practice discount others. It always happens. (I say let’s focus on Jesus’s life and teaching. That focus is, after all, a strong implication of the word “Christian”.)
2. You really cannot hold a paradox in your heart, in the sense of loving and practicing both aspects. (Remember Jesus talking about love of money? You will “love” one god and despise the other.) Is God evil or good?  Is God both? You cannot in practice believe in, love, be devoted to, a God who is both evil and good, both morally vile and morally excellent, both repulsive and lovely. So if you think parts of the Bible (that somewhat random collection of writings we call “The Book”) – if you think some parts tend to encourage evil attitudes and behaviors, leave them alone. Nourish yourself on what is good and healthful. There’s plenty of that.
3. You know, you can say “I don’t know.” It’s ok in some of those cases – Bible passages, or life situations – to say or think something like, “I really don’t understand that situation well enough to even have an opinion on it.” Being honest about uncertainty does not prevent one from being right about some OTHER things – or at least feeling enough certainty to go on and invest life in them.

Is God Evil or Good? Let’s Be The Reason Someone Believes God is Good!

Jesus of Nazareth taught and lived lots of GOOD things. Let’s follow him.
_________________
SEE ALSO on PUBLICCHRISTIAN:
Beware the Petty God – Bad, But Worshiped Everywhere, in All Religions
The Good God! – Unlike the Petty God, This God’s Really GOOD – 6 Characteristics
_________________
Please add your comments below. (Personal info optional.)

Views: 117

Leave a Comment

 
Share
Share
Tweet