Q&A: God's Goodness

God's Goodness

Question

Is God omni-benevolent?

Answer

Yes, God is omni-benevolent. He is infinite in his goodness, and his goodness includes such aspects as his love, grace, mercy and long-suffering.

When we speak of the infinitude of these divine attributes, however, we must be careful to distinguish what we mean and what we do not mean. First, we mean that all of God's attributes are infinitely perfect -- God represents the ultimate pinnacle of all his attributes (e.g. he is as "good" as "good" gets). Second, his attributes are thus infinite in intensity, but not necessarily in manifested scope. That is, while God is infinitely merciful, he expresses that infinite mercy in finite ways (e.g. he forgives a particular finite sin, though the mercy he expresses is infinitely perfect), and to a finite group of people. Third, his benevolence does not overrule his other attributes, but is intrinsically tied to them. For example, one way that God expresses his infinite benevolence is by rescuing his people when they are victimized, and by justly punishing those who have hurt them (e.g. Ps. 143:12). The just punishment of evildoers is not an expression of mercy to the evildoers, but that does not make God any less merciful in his nature. "Omni-" does not imply "only." Another way in which God manifests his benevolence, and which we might not think of naturally, is by disciplining his children (e.g. Heb. 12:6).

Answer by Ra McLaughlin

Ra McLaughlin is Vice President of Finance and Administration at Third Millennium Ministries.