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I have a friend who loves to say, “God is good.” Sometimes he tweets it. He often ends emails with it. And it’s a fitting reminder. God is good.

But what do we mean when we say “God is good”? Are we referring to the Lord’s actions in the world and toward us? Are we referring to some aspect of His character? Do we have some sense that his goodness is like the warmth we feel when we visit our grandmother’s home?

John Frame in The Doctrine of God, reflecting on the limits of Thomist philosophy in the doctrine of God, writes:

What is God’s “goodness”? Is it something in him? It would be more accurate, I think, to say that “divine goodness,” though it sounds like an abstract property, is really just a way of referring to everything God is. For everything God does is good, and everything he is is good. All his attributes are good. All his decrees are good. All his actions are good. There is nothing in God that is not good.

To praise God’s goodness is not to praise something other than God himself. It is not to praise something less than him, or a part of him, so to speak. It is to praise him. God’s goodness is not something that is intelligible in itself, apart from everything else that God is.

God’s goodness is the standard for our goodness. We are to image his goodness. Does that mean that we are to image some abstract property that is somehow attached to God or present in him somewhere? No, it means that we are to image God himself. Our moral standard is not an impersonal, abstract property. It is a person, the living God. The center of biblical morality is that we should be like him. … God’s personal goodness defines any legitimate abstract concept of goodness.

John Frame, The Doctrine of God, pp. 229-230.


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3 thoughts on “God Is Good; We Should Be Too”

  1. Andrew Lohr says:

    Ye-ah. Yeah. God is good and “is” is far too weak a word there.
    And I wish Christians writing on politics would first worship God: “Hallowed be Thy Name” comes before “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth.” We are on earth, and pretty deep in the mud, and the Creator Incarnate can deal with that, but–God is good even if the candidates aren’t and the situation isn’t.
    So how did the Good One advise the Israelite constitutional convention (yes, that’s exactly what it was) in I Samuel 8?
    He advised that if a form of government will practice national service, eminent domain, and collect taxes at a 10% rate, prefer a different form of government. Do we worship a God good and big enough to turn those from assumptions into questions?
    His lists of jobs for government to do (Romans 13, I Tim 2) are very short lists: basically, terrorize evildoers so doers of good can live Godly lives in peace. Do our long lists emanate from God, or is triune Jehovah good and big enough to call long lists into question? (And is the Creator Incarnate practical enough to notice that businesses have to keep their customers happy to get money, but governments get paid whether their “customers” are happy or not, so businesses have more incentive to serve and improve?)
    At the Cross, central to Christianity, we voted in the Internal Righteousness Service to tax righteousness away from the One who had it and redistribute it to us who need it for our very lives. NOT. Jesus loves us and gave Himself for us. No power grab. Genuine, personal generosity. God is very, very, very good.
    Egalitarianism was the original sin: “I will be like the Most High…Ye shall be as gods,” as if God wasn’t good enough. And in plain logic, the enforcer of equality make inequality worse, for the Enforcer outranks the enforcees. So the very ideal of egalitarianism is both evil, and beneath impossible. For an ideal, try justice. (When “The poor man is as secure in his 5 shillings as the rich in his 500 pounds”–Burke.)
    And since God created us (male and female) in His own creative image, a couple additional reflections.
    Without weighing in on Trump vs Clinton (publican vs Pharisee, both unrepentant? Erratic impulse vs evil self-rightous calculation?), let me throw in something re 3rd parties. (As a Christian, I’ve voted for Republican, Libertarian, Democrat, and Constitution Party candidates.) When the two old parties are both at 49% trying for 51%, they may need 3rd party ideas and 3rd party votes. By voting for a 3rd party, you let the old parties know the ideas and votes are out there. (Socialist Norman Thomas stopped running for President when FDR used all his ideas.)
    And: when we talk about murder and killing, we recognize gradations: aggravated, 1st 2nd and 3rd degree, voluntary manslaughter, involuntary, accidental, reasonable doubt, on down to justified self-defense. How about similar gradations when talking about racism (and about rape)?
    Exterminate a race: Hitler. Kill a higher percentage: Planned Parenthood (“Genocide”–Jesse Jackson.) Enslave a race: Jefferson Davis. Separate but equal and forget about equal: Jim Crow, with two black people out of 10,000 in some Alabama county registered to vote. Glass ceilings: no black QBs or head coaches. Most of that, except abortuaries, is broken in the US. God is good. Using the same word “racism” and intending the same force for requiring voter ID, or allowing different racial percentages in some work force than in the neighborhood, comes near to bearing false witness, and may tempt people to think and even say, Well, if that’s racism, then we’re racist and we’re proud of it. (Pride is sin; only God is good.) Deal with sin as sin, and with crime as crime, and remember that a broad brush may tar both ways. (God is good: man reaps what he sows.)
    Yours in Christ Jesus,
    Andrew Lohr

  2. Andrew Lohr says:

    (Not sure I hit the right button to send this for posting; if I did, once is enough, of course.)
    Ye-ah. Yeah. God is good and “is” is far too weak a word there.
    And I wish Christians writing on politics would first worship God: “Hallowed be Thy Name” comes before “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth.” We are on earth, and pretty deep in the mud, and the Creator Incarnate can deal with that, but–God is good even if the candidates aren’t and the situation isn’t.
    So how did the Good One advise the Israelite constitutional convention (yes, that’s exactly what it was) in I Samuel 8?
    He advised that if a form of government will practice national service, eminent domain, and collect taxes at a 10% rate, prefer a different form of government. Do we worship a God good and big enough to turn those from assumptions into questions?
    His lists of jobs for government to do (Romans 13, I Tim 2) are very short lists: basically, terrorize evildoers so doers of good can live Godly lives in peace. Do our long lists emanate from God, or is triune Jehovah good and big enough to call long lists into question? (And is the Creator Incarnate practical enough to notice that businesses have to keep their customers happy to get money, but governments get paid whether their “customers” are happy or not, so businesses have more incentive to serve and improve?)
    At the Cross, central to Christianity, we voted in the Internal Righteousness Service to tax righteousness away from the One who had it and redistribute it to us who need it for our very lives. NOT. Jesus loves us and gave Himself for us. No power grab. Genuine, personal generosity. God is very, very, very good.
    Egalitarianism was the original sin: “I will be like the Most High…Ye shall be as gods,” as if God wasn’t good enough. And in plain logic, the enforcer of equality make inequality worse, for the Enforcer outranks the enforcees. So the very ideal of egalitarianism is both evil, and beneath impossible. For an ideal, try justice. (When “The poor man is as secure in his 5 shillings as the rich in his 500 pounds”–Burke.)
    And since God created us (male and female) in His own creative image, a couple additional reflections.
    Without weighing in on Trump vs Clinton (publican vs Pharisee, both unrepentant? Erratic impulse vs evil self-rightous calculation?), let me throw in something re 3rd parties. (As a Christian, I’ve voted for Republican, Libertarian, Democrat, and Constitution Party candidates.) When the two old parties are both at 49% trying for 51%, they may need 3rd party ideas and 3rd party votes. By voting for a 3rd party, you let the old parties know the ideas and votes are out there. (Socialist Norman Thomas stopped running for President when FDR used all his ideas.)
    And: when we talk about murder and killing, we recognize gradations: aggravated, 1st 2nd and 3rd degree, voluntary manslaughter, involuntary, accidental, reasonable doubt, on down to justified self-defense. How about similar gradations when talking about racism (and about rape)?
    Exterminate a race: Hitler. Kill a higher percentage: Planned Parenthood (“Genocide”–Jesse Jackson.) Enslave a race: Jefferson Davis. Separate but equal and forget about equal: Jim Crow, with two black people out of 10,000 in some Alabama county registered to vote. Glass ceilings: no black QBs or head coaches. Most of that, except abortuaries, is broken in the US. God is good. Using the same word “racism” and intending the same force for requiring voter ID, or allowing different racial percentages in some work force than in the neighborhood, comes near to bearing false witness, and may tempt people to think and even say, Well, if that’s racism, then we’re racist and we’re proud of it. (Pride is sin; only God is good.) Deal with sin as sin, and with crime as crime, and remember that a broad brush may tar both ways. (God is good: man reaps what he sows.)
    Yours in Christ Jesus,
    Andrew Lohr

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Thabiti Anyabwile


Thabiti Anyabwile is a pastor for Anacostia River Church in southeast Washington, DC and a council member of The Gospel Coalition.

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