We believe God is good, powerful
There are various attributes traditionally associated with
God - He is everywhere, knows everything, and so on. But three
of the key things that Christians believe about God is that He
is good, powerful and loving.
It is important that we affirm each of these attributes,
because they often seem to pull in different directions. But
we believe that these qualities complement rather than conflict
with each other - at least, when they are understood correctly.
In other words, we must not imagine that God's goodness and
power are cold, harsh attributes: they are ways in which His
love is expressed.
Equally, we must not think of God's love as being a soft,
weak characteristic: it is a moral and strong love. In other
words, true love is strongly moral. To give one obvious
consequence of this: if you really love someone, you will never
ask them to commit adultery.
Choose your response:
People often talk as though God were schizophrenic.
Even experienced preachers and teachers sometimes talk as if
the different aspects of His nature were in conflict with
People also talk as if a powerful God must be able to do
anything. This is clearly not the case: the Bible talks
about various things God cannot do, and even childish logic
puzzles make it clear that God cannot do absolutely
Can God tie a knot that He can't untie? No, He cannot.
Nor can He give human beings true freedom and ensure that
they will always choose the right thing.
Choose your response:
Objections in this area tend to be fairly personal.
People say things like: "A God of love would never have
allowed my wife/child/friend to have suffered the way they
did." Sometimes it is stated in more general terms, such
as: "How can a God of love allow so much suffering in the
world?" - but even then, when this is a serious objection, a
large part of it usually stems from some personal
Many people seem to think that this is an incredibly
powerful argument. In fact, people rarely even attempt to
make an argument - they seem to think that asserting this
conclusion is sufficient. There are at least two obvious
holes in this, even before you start to argue the details.
Firstly, who are you to tell me what a perfectly loving
God would do? A one year old child cannot understand its
parents' love for each other, or their need to work so that
the mortgage gets paid. Yet God is so much further beyond us
than the human parents are to their child. To claim that we
can know God's mind in this way is incredible arrogance.
Secondly, it ignores some obvious facts: people often
choose to suffer (think of mothers and athletes), and loving
parents do allow their children to suffer in some
circumstances. We choose to suffer for the sake of future
growth, learning and achievement, or to help other people.
You can read more about this subject in the article
God is Good.
You also hear the more philosophical types of objection,
such as: "A good God would never have created a world in
which suffering and evil were inevitable - or even a world
in which they were likely."
This suffers from the first problem described above. You
are claiming to know not only God's mind and motivations,
but also what He is capable of creating.
It also assumes that suffering is the worst possible
evil, and that anything would be preferable to a world in
which suffering exists. But we have already pointed out that
we often choose to embrace suffering in order to achieve
some greater good, so it is clear that we don't actually
believe this to be the case.
The three basic alternatives seem to be fairly obvious:
Choose your response:
We have already talked about this when considering
I question the morality of a God that
would command the bloody and violent acts in the old
testament such as the slaughter of the Canaanites by Israel
This is not so far from the truth. The Bible does not
teach that God's power is unlimited - it does not say that
God can do anything. In fact, the Bible often talks about
the things God cannot do.
What the Bible does tell us is that God is powerful
enough. Nobody can make Him do something against His will,
or prevent something He has decided will happen. This makes
sense: it is not likely that God would create a universe in
which some creatures are more powerful than He is - even if
this is possible!
This would seem to be a real possibility, and many people
glibly claim this is the case. But think about it: the
existence of suffering may throw doubt on the claim that God
is good and loving, but consider the alternative. If we
lived in a universe in which God was not good and loving,
how do you explain all the love and beauty in the world -
how do you explain the comparative lack of suffering?