There are many examples of God’s goodness throughout the scriptures. However, there is sometimes confusion when it comes to defining the terms good and goodness. There can be different interpretations met when people refer to the term good. This is an analogical word. Analogical words are ones that can be used to define God in the same way as they are meant in humans, but we must still remain aware that the meaning isn’t completely the same. This is because God’s nature is very different to us, and he reaches the highest forms of omnipotence, benevolence etc.
God can be depicted in terms of close, personal and family relationships – as a loving parent or equivalent loved one. The Old Testament makes clear that God is intimately interested in the world and its inhabitants and that he isn’t remote from people and their needs. Numerous Old Testament stories tell of God in discussion with people, even undergoing a change of mind as a result. God is always thought of within Christian thought as perfect or wholly good. Many see this as moral goodness. This is why God is referred to as benevolent.
However, in order for God to be a moral being, he would have to be part of a community. Therefore, God can’t have moral reasons for the actions he takes. There are many instances in the Bible that shows God as good. The first being the fall. In this account, Adam and Eve were told not to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil inside the grounds of the Garden of Eden. Afterwards they saw it as a sin to God to appear naked before him. However, if God was happy with the way he had created the world, why did he make it able for the pair to disobey him and create a world with both good and evil?
But the counter argument to this is that God wanted to allow for free will, and if he did what he wanted, there would be a question of humanities free will. God said to Adam; ‘because you listened to your wife, and ate from the tree I commanded you to avoid, the very dirt under your feet is cursed. You shall eat of it all the days of your life’. This story is also called Original Sin; God gave humanity a chance to live in a world without knowing good and evil, which he took away once Adam and Eve sinned him.
The innocence and tranquillity of Eden are destroyed by Adam and Eve’s sin. By eating from the Tree of Knowledge, they challenge God’s will. God punishes them for this by taking away his gift of eternal life and expelling them from the Garden of Eden. Their sin leads to humanity’s separation from God. God is also portrayed as good in the Parting of the Waters of the Red Sea; ‘Moses extended his hand over the sea, and God drove back the sea… ‘. This act of God was seen as an act of goodness.
Moses made the command, and God parted the seas in order to allow the Israelites to leave Egypt and head into the wilderness, but leaving the Egyptians to be washed over by the sweeping waters. The part of the Hebrew Scriptures that tends to praise God the most is the Psalms. The most famous Psalm 23; ‘The lord is my shepherd, I shall not want… He leads me beside still water; He restores my soul… You anoint with head with oil… Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me’.
In this psalm, David likens our relationship as people to God, similar to a sheep’s relationship to its shepherd and therefore saying that God has a good power over us. But that when he anoints David’s head, God is automatically passing his goodness onto David. Psalm 29 portrays God’s power over the forces of evil. Psalm 103 shows God’s goodness; ‘Bless the Lord who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases. He looks after and protects each one of us, but he is also willing to forgive us for mistakes we make.
However not all of the psalms are to do with praising God’s goodness. My God, my God, why have You forsaken me’? This is written by a sufferer begging God to intervene in the situation he is having a problem with, but God isn’t responding. In conclusion, a lot of the Hebrew Scriptures portray God as being good through stories, teachings and the psalms. However, this isn’t necessarily an accurate source. The Jews wrote these scriptures for the Jews, about the Jews. Therefore, it’s debatable how much of what we read is accurate. b) ‘A good God wouldn’t set so many rules and regulations’. Discuss.
The most obvious and important set of rules that were made by God, would have to be The 10 Commandments. God, to gain order out of the chaos, created these commandments. They deal with how people should relate to God, but also how they should relate to one another. Another well-known rule set by God was in the story of Adam and Eve. ‘You shall not eat of it or touch, lest you die’; this rule was set in order to save the pair from knowledge of good and evil. They then became aware of their nudity, which was once natural to them but now seemed like a sin in front of God.
Both these examples could be judged by saying that if God made the world, then surely it should be perfect, and therefore the people in it should behave in the way that God instructs. But this again brings into subject the counteracting issue of free will. And that if God was to dictate everything we did then our destinies would be decided and there would be no need for us to live. In Psalm 121, God is described as our protector and we are made to visualise him as a parent/provider or keeper of us all.
There is also the argument that if God made men in the image of himself then why would it be necessary for rules and regulations. But these laws were meant to be a guide to good relationships. In these laws, God tells the Israelites how they should live, for their own good and well being. These laws were never intended to be a long list of “do’s” and “don’ts” to make life a burden. These laws reflect God’s character; holiness, justice and goodness, and expressed God’s will. They give people the practical guidance they need in order to obey God’s command to; ‘Be holy, as I am holy’.
There are various instances of rules and regulations being set by God. In conclusion, it would be a good God that sets rules and regulations for everyone to follow. It’s a parallel situation to a parent setting rules and curfews for a child. It enables them to learn that not everything is left up to them, and that there are certain laws that must be followed and that although a lot of decisions will be left up to them to decide, some things in life, are just a given. It would be unloving for a parent or God to let us roam completely freely.