Goodness of God

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Goodness of God

Key concepts:

  • Goodness of God is important in Judaeo-Christian theology
  • Analogical goodness - God is a lawgiver and judge, not like human goodness
  • Example of the goodness of God in the Old Testament is God giving Hannah a baby after she prays to Him (1 Samuel 1:10-11,20) and best example in the New Testament is Jesus ('For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son' - John 3:16)
  • God is the model of goodness - seen through John 3:16
  • Perfectly good
  • Nothing God does is seen as cruel, vindictive or vengeful
  • God's goodness is expressed through the moral standards He sets and the responses He gives to His people
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Bible references:

  • Exodus 20 (Decalogue) - the Ten Commandments show God cares about humanity because He has given us rules to live by
  • Abraham and his son Isaac in Genesis - God tells Abraham to kill his only son and Abraham is prepared to do this because he reponds to God with faith no reason
  • Job's suffering
  • Jesus
  • Deuteronomy 32:4-5 - 'His work is perfect' shows all God created was good 
  • Psalm 19 - 'The Law of the Lord is perfect' tells us obedience glorfies God
  • Psalm 23 - 'The Lord is my shepherd' shows God helps humanity 
  • Isaiah 55:8 - 'My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways' shows understanding, forgiveness and flexibility of God's goodness 
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Problem of Evil:

  • Some philosophers disagree with the view that God is good because of evil exists 
  • J. S. Mill argues that a good Gos should not act differently to a good person
  • Evil acts of God cannot be justified on the grounds that God is divine 
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Faith not Reason:

  • Christians and Jews should respond to the commands of God with faith not reason
  • Reason alone will not lead people to the right choices
  • God defines goodness even if it sometimes seems unreliable 
  • Doesn't matter if people don't understand the goodness of God, they must accept it (see story of Abraham and Isaac) 
  • God's goodness is not circumstantial or predictable - if it was, we would only love God when we experienced goodness (see story of Job, who lost everything but remained faithful
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The Jewish Covenant:

  • God's goodness is part of the covenant relationship the Jews share with Him
  • The suffering of the Jews throughout history shows God cares about them because He wishes to know how strong their faith is 
  • Jewish people should accept that God's judgement might be harsh
  • As God's chosen people they are under more scrunity than His other followers 
  • The Jewish relationship with God is unique 
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The Euthyphro Dilemma:

  • Is something good because God commands it or does God command something because it is good?
    • Christians go with the former - moral action is willed by God:
      • God is the source of morality
      • He is clearly placed above goodness
    • Alternative view that there is a link between God and morality:
      • Moral values were not established by God 
      • God operates according to morals already placed in the Universe 
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Contrast to Form of the Good and Prime Mover:

  • God provides interactive goodness
  • Not merely an idea to follow
  • More than a concept
  • Exists as a personality
  • Reacts to humanity
  • Cares about how people behave
  • Immanent 
  • Anthropomorphic
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