How Good is God? - Questions for the Skeptic
How good is God? The debate continues with the publication of a new book The Character of God Controversy by Steve Wohlberg and Dr. Chris Lewis. Here is a description of the book:
"An intense controversy is raging within the church about God's attributes. Falsehood and extremes abound. While some perceive the Supreme Deity as a loveless tyrant who can hardly wait to hurl sinners into Hell, others imagine that He is so mild and gentle that He won't even punish sin. The Character of God Controversy will enable you to detect Satan's efforts to "deceive if possible, even the elect" (Matthew 24:24) while also revealing God's love for you and your family."
The fact that this book has been published by a popular author and Christian TV personality and his analysis that there is "an intense controversy" shows that there are many questions being raised about our understanding of God's character.
How could a loving God burn humans eternally for the sins of one short lifetime? Of course, He couldn't but that just shows how far in the wrong direction the thinking of the world has gone. And many of us thought that way at some time on our past. Fortunately, carefully students of God's word now understand that the wicked suffer the second death, they are burned up, nothing remains and they are not and will not be suffering through eternity. That is a better picture than the common understanding that God will treat the lost with eternal torment but have we moved far enough from the wrong understanding of God's character? Here is the range of options on the character of God:
|"The last message of mercy is a
revelation of His character of love"
|God burns His
in hell fire
|God, in the end,
|God always allows freedom
of choice (which can bring
death as a natural result)
|because He is
God. Better not
is what is "best"
for the universe
|because God wants willing
not robotic service.
Basically, Steve Wohlberg has taken this middle position. Another author, Marilyn Campbell has written Light on the Dark Side of God and, more recently, Light Through Darkness in which she takes a position to the right of the spectrum. After reading and studying her books and other material I also have taken this position. I urge people to read her material and even offer FREE COPIES of Light on the Dark Side of God on this website. I would urge everyone to study this question out for themselves. The available books do a good job of presenting the evidence for a God that couldn't be better in His treatment of others.
Of course, many questions come to mind when a non-traditional viewpoint like this is presented. I have heard many objections to this view on God's character. Many of those are questions about a particular incident or wording of the Bible. Such people are perhaps not looking at the broad principals operating behind the scenes. Here, I am not so much presenting a list of answers to individual scriptures that people might bring up as that has been done elsewhere and is also a case of, as the expression goes, not seeing the forest for the trees. Rather, what I am presenting are some questions, thoughts and suggestions that challenge the traditional viewpoint. We need to think deeply about these questions and get to the bottom of what the Bible says about the Character of God. This page is really a Spirit of Prophecy supplement to the
"Does God Destroy?"
pages on the main part of this website. Basically, this is a series of:
Questions for the Skeptic
The last message of mercy?
"It is the darkness of misapprehension of God that is enshrouding the world. Men are losing their knowledge of His character. It has been misunderstood and misinterpreted. At this time a message from God is to be proclaimed, a message illuminating in its influence and saving in its power. His character is to be made known. Into the darkness of the world is to be shed the light of His glory, the light of His goodness, mercy, and truth.
This is the work outlined by the prophet Isaiah in the words, "O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God! Behold, the Lord God will come with strong hand, and His arm shall rule for Him; behold, His reward is with Him, and His work before Him." Isa. 40:9,10.
Those who wait for the Bridegroom's coming are to say to the people, "Behold your God." The last rays of merciful light, the last message of mercy to be given to the world, is a revelation of His character of love. The children of God are to manifest His glory. In their own life and character they are to reveal what the grace of God has done for them. (COL 416-7)
I have a hard time conceiving that the last message of mercy to the word includes that you had better obey God or He will kill you. How does that turn the heart to God? If it is described as "the last message of mercy," we need to be open to the possibility that His character of love is being revealed beyond what we have previously understood.
Infinite in Goodness?
"Surrender yourself into the hands of God, that your will and ways may be guided by the One who is unerring in wisdom and infinite in goodness." (That I May Know Him 59)
"The sacrificial offerings were ordained by God to be to man a perpetual reminder and a penitential acknowledgment of his sin and a confession of his faith in the promised Redeemer. They were intended to impress upon the fallen race the solemn truth that it was sin that caused death. To Adam, the offering of the first sacrifice was a most painful ceremony. His hand must be raised to take life, which only God could give. It was the first time he had ever witnessed death, and he knew that had he been obedient to God, there would have been no death of man or beast. As he slew the innocent victim, he trembled at the thought that his sin must shed the blood of the spotless Lamb of God. This scene gave him a deeper and more vivid sense of the greatness of his transgression, which nothing but the death of God's dear Son could expiate. And he marveled at the infinite goodness that would give such a ransom to save the guilty. A star of hope illumined the dark and terrible future and relieved it of its utter desolation." (PP 68)
"On the one side is the all-wise, all-powerful God, infinite in wisdom, goodness, and compassion;" (YI, May 16, 1901 par. 5)
Can you think of a God who is better - more infinite in goodness - than one who kills those who disobey Him? How about one who doesn't?
Satan Wins at Last?
"From the first the great controversy had been upon the law of God. Satan had sought to prove that God was unjust, that His law was faulty, and that the good of the universe required it to be changed. In attacking the law he aimed to overthrow the authority of its Author. In the controversy it was to be shown whether the divine statutes were defective and subject to change, or perfect and immutable." (PP 69)
If the very last act in dealing with sin is that of God killing Satan then there is a sense in which Satan's original charge is correct. God ultimately, in the last act of the drama, would be breaking His own law. Satan was called "a murderer from the beginning:"
"Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it." (John 8:44)
But what if God turns out to be a murderer in the end? Then who wins?
There are some more thoughts on the question of how good is God. More will be added in future.