The Goodness of God
In the physical universe we may see the divine beauty, in the intellectual world we may discern eternal truth, but the goodness of God is found only in the spiritual world of personal religious experience. In its true essence, religion is a faith-trust in the goodness of God. God could be great and absolute, somehow even intelligent and personal, in philosophy, but in religion God must also be moral; he must be good. Man might fear a great God, but he trusts and loves only a good God. This goodness of God is a part of the personality of God, and its full revelation appears only in the personal religious experience of the believing sons of God.
Religion implies that the superworld of spirit nature is cognizant of, and responsive to, the fundamental needs of the human world. Evolutionary religion may become ethical, but only revealed religion becomes truly and spiritually moral. The olden concept that God is a Deity dominated by kingly morality was upstepped by Jesus to that affectionately touching level of intimate family morality of the parent-child relationship, than which there is none more tender and beautiful in mortal experience.
The "richness of the goodness of God leads erring man to repentance." "Every good gift and every perfect gift comes down from the Father of lights." "God is good; he is the eternal refuge of the souls of men." "The Lord God is merciful and gracious. He is long-suffering and abundant in goodness and truth." "Taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who trusts him." "The Lord is gracious and full of compassion. He is the God of salvation." "He heals the brokenhearted and binds up the wounds of the soul. He is man's all-powerful benefactor."
The concept of God as a king-judge, although it fostered a high moral standard and created a law-respecting people as a group, left the individual believer in a sad position of insecurity respecting his status in time and in eternity. The later Hebrew prophets proclaimed God to be a Father to Israel; Jesus revealed God as the Father of each human being. The entire mortal concept of God is transcendently illuminated by the life of Jesus. Selflessness is inherent in parental love. God loves not like a father, but as a father. He is the Paradise Father of every universe personality.
Righteousness implies that God is the source of the moral law of the universe. Truth exhibits God as a revealer, as a teacher. But love gives and craves affection, seeks understanding fellowship such as exists between parent and child. Righteousness may be the divine thought, but love is a father's attitude. The erroneous supposition that the righteousness of God was irreconcilable with the selfless love of the heavenly Father, presupposed absence of unity in the nature of Deity and led directly to the elaboration of the atonement doctrine, which is a philosophic assault upon both the unity and the free-willness of God.
The affectionate heavenly Father, whose spirit indwells his children on earth, is not a divided personality -- one of justice and one of mercy -- neither does it require a mediator to secure the Father's favor or forgiveness. Divine righteousness is not dominated by strict retributive justice; God as a father transcends God as a judge.
God is never wrathful, vengeful, or angry. It is true that wisdom does often restrain his love, while justice conditions his rejected mercy. His love of righteousness cannot help being exhibited as equal hatred for sin. The Father is not an inconsistent personality; the divine unity is perfect. In the Paradise Trinity there is absolute unity despite the eternal identities of the co-ordinates of God.
God loves the sinner and hates the sin: such a statement is true philosophically, but God is a transcendent personality, and persons can only love and hate other persons. Sin is not a person. God loves the sinner because he is a personality reality (potentially eternal), while towards sin God strikes no personal attitude, for sin is not a spiritual reality; it is not personal; therefore does only the justice of God take cognizance of its existence. The love of God saves the sinner; the law of God destroys the sin. This attitude of the divine nature would apparently change if the sinner finally identified himself wholly with sin just as the same mortal mind may also fully identify itself with the indwelling spirit Adjuster. Such a sin-identified mortal would then become wholly unspiritual in nature (and therefore personally unreal) and would experience eventual extinction of being. Unreality, even incompleteness of creature nature, cannot exist forever in a progressingly real and increasingly spiritual universe.
Facing the world of personality, God is discovered to be a loving person; facing the spiritual world, he is a personal love; in religious experience he is both. Love identifies the volitional will of God. The goodness of God rests at the bottom of the divine free-willness -- the universal tendency to love, show mercy, manifest patience, and minister forgiveness.
--Presented by a Divine Counselor, from the Urantia Papers.
Return from The Goodness of God to The Nature of God