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Primer on Divine Goodness (Part 2: Philosophical Reflection)
In my last post, I considered the teachings of Scripture concerning the character of God. The Bible is clear that God himself is good, the source of all good things, and good to all that He has made. In light of that discussion, let us define divine goodness as following:
A Primer on Divine Goodness (Part One: Theological Reflection)
It is a common theistic claim that God is good. But what is the justification for such a claim, and further how is it to be understood? In this post, I’ll consider what Scripture has to say about divine goodness. In my next post, we’ll put the resultant conception of divine goodness under philosophical scrutiny.
A Spiritual History of the World
In Peter Kreeft’s excellent little book Back to Virtue, he attempts to delineate the spiritual history of the (Western) world in 10 steps. I think the picture Kreeft develops is insightful and provides a helpful perspective in which to understand our present times. In this post, I’ll briefly sketch Kreeft’s history and offer a few thoughts of my own at the end.
God-so far yet so near
The most fundamental distinction of all reality is that between Creator and creature. He makes, we are made; he is original, we are derivative; he is everlasting, we are temporal; he is infinite, we are finite; he exists a se, we ab alio.
Two Roads to Live On
Thoughtful observers are in agreement that our culture is sick. We are morally confused. We are cracked, violated, and vicious. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think we’re much worse than any previous culture. The difference between earlier cultures and ours is not in terms of our lack of virtue, but the lack of knowledge of virtue. As Peter Kreeft so boldly puts it, we are the most freakish culture in the history of the west—because we have loosed our lives from the pursuit of God—and we are the weakest culture in the history of the west—because we no longer act based on objective moral principles, and thus have no objective standard with which to judge and no objective source of power for change.
Man’s Four Hungers
In his famous Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled” (Matthew 5:6). Blessed—happy—satisfied—whole—are those who hunger and thirst for his righteousness, for they will be filled. This sounds like good news to me! Don’t we all want to be blessed, happy, satisfied, and whole? Surely we all long for such a blessed state of affairs. But then why are so many today broken, fragmented, cracked, and potted?
The Blinding Friday Night Lights
We’ve just moved from Middle America to Texas. To say there is a bit of culture shock is an understatement. Things are a bit different down here. Don’t get me wrong. I love Texas. I married a Texan. I’m a Spurs fan. I remember the Alamo. We eat breakfast tacos. I even have a cowboy hat, which I dutifully wear at each commencement at graduation at SWBTS where I teach. (I don’t, however, have cowboy boots – I’ve drawn a line in the sand on that one). It’s just going to take a bit of getting used to, that’s all.
What is the Origin of Religion?
How, or why, did religion originate? More to the point, did religion begin with God or man? It has become commonplace since the Enlightenment to understand the origin and development of religion in naturalistic terms: Religion is man-made. It is a crutch for the weak-minded. It is a feeling of absolute dependence. It is a projection of our father figure. It is the Mysterium Tremendum. It is rooted in universal archetypes of the human subconscious.
What does -God Loves You- mean?
We long to be loved and to love. Yet we love imperfectly, and often disorderedly. But there is one who loves perfectly–God–and widely. In fact, God loves the whole world, Jesus says in the oft-quoted John 3:16. But what does it mean? How does God love man?
Given the great gulf between the Creator and creature, we can only apprehend, according to C. S. Lewis, God’s love of man through various analogies. From the various types of love known among creatures, we can formulate a partial picture of God’s love for us.
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind and the God Who Made It
I just finished reading William Kamkwamba’s inspiring book The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind. In the autobiography (co-written with Bryan Mealer), Kamkwamba shares his childhood story of growing up in the impoverished country of Malawi, a country where magic rules and modern science is often viewed with suspicion and mystery.