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Fruits of the Spirit vs. the World: Goodness

August 17, 2012

After a long hiatus, this series is back with a vengeance.

Goodness is one of those things that is hard to define. What is goodness? The word “good” is often used as a filler word. “That movie was good.” Ernest Hemingway was a master at using the word “good.” Hemingway’s characters used words like “good” and “nice” to mean nothing. This was Hemingway’s way of showing the emptiness of his character’s lives. I digress. When we try to think of what is good, we struggle. The word is just too abstract.

Sometimes we will say, in conversation, “that’s just too good to be true.” There’s a sort of intuition that we have that detects real goodness from fake goodness. Grandma’s apple pie is good; Twinkies are fake-good. Our best friend has a look of genuine goodness about him (hopefully); Tiger Woods has the eerily plasticine look of manufactured goodness about him. Not all that glitters is gold.

Socrates once had a conversation with a young man named (I believe) Eurypthro, and this was later made into a dialogue, called Eurypthro. One of the main questions that was asked in the dialogue was “Is an action good because a god does it or does the god do it because it is good.” The Christian answer is yes. God is free and sovereign according to his nature, and his nature is that of an eternally loving being. Before the beginning of time, the Father loved the Son. God could never do evil, because evil is a “want of conformity to or transgression of the law of God.” And what is the law of God? To love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself.”

For a while the above question bothered me. I was bothered by the subjective nature of God’s goodness. But then I realized that God’s goodness is reflected in creation. What we see as good is a reflection of the ultimate goodness. Even when people pursue evil, they are misguided in pursuing good. Vices are just mutuated and twisted virtues.

I hope this rambling collection of incoherent thoughts has done some good. Until next time, God bless us, everyone.

Current Listenings: “Wishing Well” by blink-182, Brothers by The Black Keys

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