Monday, January 19, 2015

God is good. Part 1

Coming to terms with the goodness of God.

God is good.

We say that God is good, then we read the Bible, live our lives, and look at the messed up situation that is the world in which we live. Then we say, "huh?"

I mean, those of us who know God, who really know Him, not just about Him, know that God is good. We have been smothered in His goodness as we worship, as we read His Word, and as we look up at a sunset.

On the other hand, we read the Bible and Dude (notice the capitalizing, that's for respect) is sending His armies to slaughter babies. He's kicking people out of their homes and sending them out to live as savages because they ate off some tree. He's opening the ground and swallowing people. That's not just the old testament. In the New Testament He strikes people dead for lying about how much they put in the offering plate and striking others for letting OTHER PEOPLE say that they are pretty as an angel. That's not to mention His "my way or the highway" attitude about just about everything. Oh, and that highway is a highway straight to Hell. That's not cool, God, not cool at all!

Of course, no one claimed God was cool. We said He was good.

I also have a good Chihuahua and a good English Cocker Spaniel. 

My Chihuahua's name is Bridget. My toddler loves her so much and squeels whenever she sees the dog. Although Bridget is a house dog and my toddler also spends most of her time at home, it is not as though my toddler constantly sees her dog, Bridget sleeps probably somewhere around 18 hours a day. When Bridget's awake, she's attentive. She's not the most obedient dog, but she's small enough to make her mind, physically. When she's sick or when we've been neglectful, she will make puddles and messes, but not under normal conditions. She does bark at strangers, but once she's certain that we're not concerned, she shuts up. She's very affectionate and is the perfect little lap dog for watching TV or playing video games.

My English Cocker Spaniel is also a good dog. She is completely obedient once she knows what I want, she does it, with gusto. Because of that gusto, she is an outside dog. She's house trained as far as her bodily needs go, but her psychological need to play is more than we (especially my wife) can really handle in the house. She loves my toddler and the feeling is mutual. I don't think we've ever gone for a walk where she hasn't flushed SOME animal, a bird, a squirrel, a rabbit, a deer. That's what she's been bred to do for generations, and I never trained her, really, to flush animals, to pick things up and carry them or to stick her nose into bushes to see what she can see. She's just a good dog.

I also have good bosses.

I have great bosses. All the way to the top, they are the best. My chair is a good chair. We use a management by objectives method here, and my chair's really good about making sure my objectives are all worked out. My dean is a good dean. I'm sure that there's more to it than this, but to my perspective what the dean does is provides a sense of calm, structure, and order to the various philosophical perspectives being advanced. My vice president over my area is a good vice president. In my area, academic affairs, the VP sets the academic tone for the school. He creates the vision, academically. The president of my university is a good president. The president should first of all set the vision for the whole school, not just the academics, then find a way to fund that vision. Our president does that. They understand their roles, provide oversight, accountability, and guidance. They leave me alone to do my job but are sure there when I have questions, need help, or need an exception to a rule.

I also have a good wife.

She takes care of a crazy, energetic toddler all day. She keeps the house immaculately clean (actually, to the point it becomes contention, I say, "let some things go, it's okay." She says, "it's not okay"). Without her, there would be no social events in my life. I'd be okay with that, but it probably wouldn't be healthy. I've been to more birthday parties in the past year than I think I've been to in my whole life. Granted, most of these were for the under 5 crowd, but if my wife weren't active in here mom's group, her women's Bible studies at two different churches, and out making friends, I'd have just been home.

But what if . . . 

What if my VPAA was spending his whole day cleaning my house? What if my wife slept 18 hours a day? What if my English Cocker were designing my work objectives (I'm pretty sure that she has no concept of work, there is play, sleep, and waiting to play)? What if my department chair was constantly sticking his nose into bushes to flush out animals, or dragging me to parties for four year-olds? What if my chihuhua was in charge of the toddler? What if my wife acted like she were my boss, my dogs acted like they were my wife, and my bosses acted like they were my dogs? Would they still be good?

So what is good?

Hopefully, you can see that the answer is "no." Good things are good in that they fulfill the roles in which they fit. Goodness is not a set of particular acts. If I take my English Cocker to a stud she's never met before, and they have sex, and I pay for it, neither I nor my dog have done anything wrong. It would be a very different situation if I did those same things with my wife. That is not to say that goodness is subjective or that it depends on the perspective. No, if I did that with my wife it would be objectively wrong and any perspective that would say it was okay would be a wrong perspective. If I did that with my dog it would be fine and those who would disagree are guilty of badness themselves, specifically, thinking of dogs as having human inclinations. Good is objective, but it is not the same for everyone. It is good for me to have sex with my wife. It is not good for you to have sex with my wife.

So God is good. 

God is good, but he is not good like a good human being. He is not polite. He is not civil. He does not regard all people as his equal. He is not, as C. S. Lewis pointed out "tame." Whereas any good person, when seeing harm come to another will do all that she or he can to stop it, a good god does not always do that. Whereas a good person is extolled not to condemn, judge, subjugate, or dominate, a good god would do all those things. So, God is not a good guy. There are plenty of good guys, and we need them. God is a good god.

Looking into that will be the subject of my next blog also on the goodness of God. What makes a good god?

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