The Goodness of God Name: Jousianne Propp

1) Explain how the Bible shows the goodness of GodIn the Old Testament the goodness of God is mainly presented in the second book of the Pentateuch (Torah), the Exodus.After the Hebrews flight from Egypt, God presents Moses and his people with the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20), in which he provides a perfect standard of morality as a foundation of life: The ethical Decalogue.Laws, concerning both religious and social duties and stipulating peoples ideal attitude and behaviour towards God and each other. This symbolizes the covenant relationship God seeks with his creation.

In the Bible goodness is defined through God and he cannot act in any other way, therefore God is morally perfect and to be seen as ‘summum bonum’, the highest form of goodness.This presents a significant difference to the Gods of early western philosophy, e.g. Platos ‘Form of the Good’ or Aristotles ‘Unmoved Mover’, who were separated and uninvolved, static and dispassionate. They were of some importance as they attracted all living forms, but they played no part in creation; they were impersonal and detached from the world. In contrast, the Bible shows his creation of humans ‘imago dei’ (in God’s image) and the Judaeo-Christian concept of God shows him as a compassionate, concerned and complex God who responds to the people.He does not act for his own profit, but for his creations welfare and the manifestation of his own bounty (Exodus 33:19 “I Myself will make all My goodness pass before you, and will proclaim the name of the Lord before you”).As the Decalogue presents his demands of humanity, it is shown that God sets a base of morality for humans to follow.

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His laws and regulations provide a benign guideline.He also is affected by the refusal to believe and trust in him and shows human emotion (anthropomorphised), such as anger, sadness or disappointment when disobeyed; known as ‘righteous indignation’.However, God does understand that sin is a part of human nature and therefore is willing to forgive when these sins are regretted and remains accessible. He rewards and punishes people according to their extent of obedience or response and through this impersonates the idea of perfect justice as a benevolent dictator.

His involvement and the communicative, dynamic interaction with his creation make him accessible to the individual on a personal level. On the other hand, he is also portrayed as a jealous God (as shown in the first four commandments, e.g. “Thou shall have no other gods beside me”).

A further example of his goodness is given in the six-day-creation account in the first book of the Torah (Genesis). “God saw that it was good”, this states that his entire creation consists of his goodness, for he created the universe ‘ex nihilo’ (out of nothing).With the sacrifice and crucifixion of God’s son Jesus the New Testament also provides a symbol for the active, involving and selfless goodness of the Judaeo-Christian God.2) “A good God would not make so many rules and regulations” DiscussMany people see rules and regulations in a negative way; they relate them to restrictions and boundaries that oppress their free will, rather than observing them in a positive way and seeing an opportunity to rise above the nature of mankind and overcome the distance between ourselves and God, caused by sin.By presenting the Ten Commandments to his people God has not taken our freedom, because we are left with the choice to either follow or disobey them. A common criticism is that God’s love should be unconditional and that laying out a law which symbolizes the absolute and perfect morality and rewarding or punishing according to obedience is making it conditional.

But the fact that he is willing to forgive when sins are regretted and confessed inactivates this argument.The creation of rules for the benefit of society lies within human nature and can be seen in everyday-life from the official law laid down by our government to the private rules a mother explains to her child. They are necessary to ensure everyone’s security and fair treatment. Without rules, founded on a base of morality, humans could not form and live in a peaceful society and it would lead to chaos and disorder.

That these rules sometimes interfere with individual desire or opinion is inevitable. The French philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau rightly observed that “personal freedom is confined by the personal freedom of others”. So hypothetically freedom doesn’t exist.But being thoughtful of the feelings and rights of others should not be seen as a constraint of personal freedom, but as a foundation for successful and happy lives.Many religious people believe that the Ten Commandments are a sign of God’s good will and his love for his creation. If everyone would obey to these commandments we would live in a world without war and envy, cruelty and destruction.If God was inconsiderate of the wellbeing of humans then he would not have bothered setting down these rules of morality for us.

But by doing so he shows his interest in human beings and gives a sign of the goodness he wants us to achieve. He created mankind in his own image and gives us a chance to pursue a path leading as close to this image as we can get.

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