Character of God

Steerpike

Registered Member
#1
Matt 19:17 "So he said to him,'Why do you call me good? No one is good but One; that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.'"

This quote makes a claim regarding the character of the God of the Bible. It is clear from the context that unequivocal good is the meaning.

If we leave aside the question of the existence or non-existence of this entity and take the Bible at face value, then what is the Biblical evidence regarding the unequivocal goodness of the character of God?

What does the Bible show regarding the character of the God of the Bible?

Discuss.
 

Sim

Registered Member
#2
It's obvious when you read the Old Testament, especially Genesis and Exodus, that God is vengeful and jalous. There is collective punishment all the time -- he smites entire cities, peoples, families for the sins of one of their members, or a few of their members. Women and children suffer for the mistakes of their fathers and husbands.

Also, the way in which God manifests in front of humans is incoherent. For example, God obviously appears in the form of a human in Genesis 32:25, when he fights with Jacob. There is another verse (don't remember which exactly) where God enters the tent of ... was it Abraham? I don't remember ... anyway, God enters his tent and tries to kill him, but the human defeats God.

Later on, like when Moses talks to God, he seems to be present either in human form, or like a large cloud. IIRC, God never manifests again like that in the NT, but let's Jesus do all the talking.

Asfaik, God is more coherently described in Quran, where he never appears in human form, but is described as unfathomable and impossible to perceive, but speaks through the prophets only.


As for the goodness of God -- considering all the collective punishment of entire tribes and peoples for the sins of a few among them, it makes me think that the old Jewish society at the time when Genesis and Exodus where written was so incredibly anti-individualistic that Stalin's USSR looks like a paradise of individualist liberalism in comparison.

Islam is more progressive in these regards; they don't know original sin, but every individual is to blame for his or her mistakes individually, and nobody can take sins from anyone else.
 

Steerpike

Registered Member
#3
....As for the goodness of God -- considering all the collective punishment of entire tribes and peoples for the sins of a few among them, it makes me think that the old Jewish society at the time when Genesis and Exodus where written was so incredibly anti-individualistic that Stalin's USSR looks like a paradise of individualist liberalism in comparison...
Is the God of the Bible unequivocally good?
 

Sim

Registered Member
#5
Is the God of the Bible unequivocally good?
From all I know of the Bible so far, at least God in the OT doesn't strike me as particularly ethical. Punishing entire peoples, including innocent children, for the sins of a few among them isn't ethical from my perspective. I prefer individual responsibility -- when someone commits a crime, punish him or her, and only him or her for it.

And I have a hard time believing in a God who is an entity with a mind, but who would still collectively punish entire peoples, families or tribes, instead of individuals.

But then, God maybe is not a being with a mind in our sense, and punishment by God is not the same as punishment by a human being -- in the sense that collective events like natural disasters are not so much meant as "punishment", but rather as a necessity for God's plan. In these regards, God is beyond ethics.

If it's relieving and/or helpful to believe in such kind of a God is a different question, I guess.
 

Steerpike

Registered Member
#6
From all I know of the Bible so far, at least God in the OT doesn't strike me as particularly ethical. Punishing entire peoples, including innocent children, for the sins of a few among them isn't ethical from my perspective. I prefer individual responsibility -- when someone commits a crime, punish him or her, and only him or her for it.

And I have a hard time believing in a God who is an entity with a mind, but who would still collectively punish entire peoples, families or tribes, instead of individuals.
What do you think about this?

Deut 24:16 "The fathers shall not be put to death for their children, nor shall the children be put to death for their fathers; a person shall be put to death for his own sin."

But then, God maybe is not a being with a mind in our sense, and punishment by God is not the same as punishment by a human being -- in the sense that collective events like natural disasters are not so much meant as "punishment", but rather as a necessity for God's plan. In these regards, God is beyond ethics.

If it's relieving and/or helpful to believe in such kind of a God is a different question, I guess.
Psalm 62:12 "Also to you O Lord, belongs mercy; for you render to each one according to his work."
 

ScottOnly

Registered Member
#7
I never could understand the charicter of God. I don't think it's my place to understand. I think that is why it says that God works in misterious ways. I'm not so sure we are supposed to understand. Think of these things.

God loves you. If you don't do what he says you go to hell where it is hot and burns and you are tortured forever and ever.

In order to be forgiven and go to heaven we needed a sacrifice. So God sent Jesus to die on the cross for us. Why couldn't he just said "It's all good. Come on up to the big house."?

I don't get it. I don't feel dumb however because so far I've not met one person that gets it either. Believe me, I've actually sat down with ministers and discussed this. If I did all the things that God did I'm sure that everyone would say that I am one evil bastard.
 

Hiei

The Hierophant
#8
Even if you take the bible at face value, God isn't really a good being. He's more of a strict being than anything. He wants everyone else to follow his set of rules and morals that he forces on you. And if you don't follow his rules, you go to hell and your tortured for the rest of eternity by his ex-right hand man, Lucifer.

Even if you do follow all of his rules, you get to go to heaven and be tortured for the rest of eternity being forced to praise his name and do his bidding.
 

Boredie

In need of Entertainment
#9
Also, the way in which God manifests in front of humans is incoherent. For example, God obviously appears in the form of a human in Genesis 32:25, when he fights with Jacob. There is another verse (don't remember which exactly) where God enters the tent of ... was it Abraham? I don't remember ... anyway, God enters his tent and tries to kill him, but the human defeats God.´
That's a misinterpretation of the bible. It was never God who did those things but his messengers - the angels. God never manifested himself as a human.
Later on, like when Moses talks to God, he seems to be present either in human form, or like a large cloud.
Again not accurate. There is a mention of a cloud - but the cloud is not God.
Asfaik, God is more coherently described in Quran, where he never appears in human form, but is described as unfathomable and impossible to perceive, but speaks through the prophets only.
It is the same in Judaism as well.

As for the goodness of God -- considering all the collective punishment of entire tribes and peoples for the sins of a few among them, it makes me think that the old Jewish society at the time when Genesis and Exodus where written was so incredibly anti-individualistic that Stalin's USSR looks like a paradise of individualist liberalism in comparison.
collective punishment by God is to teach that we are all responsible for one another. But it doesn't mean that's the only way he punishes.

The character of God is both judgemental and merciful.
 

Steerpike

Registered Member
#10
Even if you take the bible at face value, God isn't really a good being.
Correct.

He's more of a strict being than anything. He wants everyone else to follow his set of rules and morals that he forces on you. And if you don't follow his rules, you go to hell and your tortured for the rest of eternity by his ex-right hand man, Lucifer.
Overall, correct. But Lucifier does not "rule in hell" as Milton would suggest. Lucifer (aka "Satan" or "the Devil") will be put into hell, not to rule, but to suffer torment.

Rev 20:10

"And the devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever."

Even if you do follow all of his rules, you get to go to heaven and be tortured for the rest of eternity being forced to praise his name and do his bidding.
Lose-lose? :lol:
 
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