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Topic: Theology Proper

God As Good: Part 1

by Darrel Cline

In our study of God as God, we made the statement that the laws of thermodynamics establish the existence of an Exerciser of Power because the universe as we know it is gradually converting all usable energy into disorder. Since the universe, left to itself, will eventually run down, it goes without reasonable doubt that it did not self-create. From that the apostle Paul said that man was without excuse because he knows there is an Exerciser of Power and that he is a creature of that Exerciser of Power. Being a creature renders him obligated to worship and serve his Maker.

We also made the prior statement that many men feel like they have the right to decide whether they will serve their Creator based upon whether He meets their expectations of character. If He is "good" enough, they will serve Him, but if He doesn't stack up to their expectations, they will go their own way.

There is a huge problem with this kind of thinking. How does a "creature", dependent upon a supply of energy that is outside of himself, "go his own way"? Though man is not a machine (his body is, but he is not), there is an illustration in the mechanical world that applies. Suppose an automobile decided that it did not approve of its owner and determined to go its own way. What would it do as soon as the gas tank ran empty? Its dependence makes it impossible for its self-determination to have any real substance. So it is with man. He is dependent. Nothing shows this quite like the earthquakes and weather we have recently experienced. When the earth begins to tremble, man cannot "go his own way". When the rains begin and man's substance is wiped out by massive flooding, he cannot feel the illusion of his own "self-determination" nearly as confidently as he does when he is healthy and wealthy and thinks himself capable of moving in his own directions. Therefore, it is illusory at best for man as creature to think in terms of rebellion against his God, and, at worst, it is highhanded arrogance without substance.

But someone will say, doesn't God have to be good to deserve our service? The short answer to that is: Absolutely not! Creatures have absolutely no prerogative to demand anything of their Creator.

That is not to say, however, that God is not good. It is just to say that man has no basis in reality for his rejection of the moral imperative of service to the God who owns him by virtue of His identity as man's Originator. But, if we have that clear in our minds, we can then move on to the question of the character of the God who is Creator and Lord.

Is the God Who is, good?

How could we tell? The perverse philosophers, who do not understand their physics and its incumbent moral imperatives (the material above), try to tell us that if we are going to use the laws of cause and effect to argue for the existence of a Creator, we will, by using those same laws, have to conclude that He is a mixture of good and evil because those qualities exist in our created universe. But is this so? Not necessarily. There is a necessity between creation and Creator on the basis of the laws of physics and cause and effect. However, one of the realities of humanity is that mankind has "personhood". That means that he has mental capacity and volitional capacity. He can think and choose. For anyone to argue that this is not so, he has entered the realm of the self-contradictory--a misty land where knowledge is impossible. The only way we can know anything is by reason of the laws of logic which insist that truth is not self-contradictory. So, man can think because there are laws of logic; and he can choose because he does so every moment of his conscious life. Reality defeats those who deny these two theses. To whom, and for what cause, does a non-thinker communicate his non-thoughts? And if man cannot make choices, why bother to attempt such non-communication in the first place?

Therefore, we have a God Who created persons. On the basis of the laws of cause and effect, that makes God equal to, or greater than, Personhood Himself. Never has it been demonstrated in the history of mankind that personhood arises out of impersonal causes. Thus, we have Person and persons.

With the creation of persons, there is introduced the possibility of choices that run amuck. Sufficient wisdom and love would guide choices into good paths, but man is notorious for his stupidity and selfishness. That means that the evil that is in the world is no longer necessarily a result of God's actions. It can be the result of His creatures' choices. The laws of cause and effect do not demand deity behind every effect. They only demand a sufficient cause behind every effect.

But, is not God responsible for the choices of His creatures? Why should He be? If they are real persons, they have real liability for their own choices. If God is responsible for their choices, they are not persons, but sophisticated machines through whom God works. We live in a myth world in our current culture which is always seeking to shift blame from the chooser to the influences behind him, and to carry the notion of responsibility beyond the choice of the one who does the actions under criticism. This is a delightful delusion for the deliberately deluded because it makes them feel better that they have someone to blame besides themselves, but that delusion is a lie and their blame-shifting is nothing more than a figment of their own imagination.

So, to conclude, the existence of creation argues for a Creator, but the existence of persons opens the door of confusion to the questions about the character of the Creator. He may, or may not, be good; but we cannot tell from the circumstances we find in our world...there are too many persons around to be able to determine who is responsible for the evil that reality says exists.

More about this later. (318)

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This is article #317.
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