Sunday, July 13, 2008

Blazing goodness.

"Whoever receives a prophet as a prophet will be given a prophet's reward, and whoever receives a good man because he is a good man will be given a good man's reward."

Matthew 10: 41-42.

"For the words that the mouth utters come from the overflowing of the heart. A good man produces good from the store of good within himself; and an evil man from evil within produces evil."

Matthew 12: 34-35.

I've been observing, and somewhat participating, in a few discussions regarding the good fruits one produces, and what is considered 'good' in the first place. Most of the time, the definition of good here gets defined somewhere along the lines of faith in God/Christ, or the good works/fruits produced are speaking of the faith in God/Christ.

However, is that how any of the listeners in the Gospels would've understood the word "good?" Or would they have defined "good" based on characteristics? Compassion, mercy, loving kindness. Such as the two verses above -- people hearing those, how would they have defined the good people? The good man who is received by another, what makes that man good? The good man producing good because of the goodness stored within himself -- what is this goodness stored within him?

In most cases, when we see a contrast between a good person and an evil person, or we hear of a good person being received, we get the impression that there are actually good people, and that we'd recognize these people based on their qualities and actions. If a good person is received by another, then a kind person has been received. Someone who loves his/her neighbors and enemies. Someone who pursues peace.

What we don't mean by "good" is someone who has faith in God, or someone who is a Christian. "Good" has a definite value assigned to it, a concrete definition that we can measure anyone by. Same with "evil." An evil person is a murderer, a rapist, a terrorist, to name a few. The definition of "good" should not suddenly have a relaxed, relative definition.

5 comments:

Andrew said...

I agree. I think somewhere in Christianity's effort to put an emphasis on Grace, we twisted goodness. Elliot S. Maggin said, "there is a right and a wrong in the universe, and the distinction is not that difficult to make". In many religious circles a kind deed does not stand on its own right... it has to have a God connection somehow. I would argue that the fact that it is a good thing done with good intent IS its God connection.

John T. said...

I heard a profound statement about good and evil

"The only intrinsic Evil is lack of Love."

SocietyVs said...

Good critique - I agree as usual.

I have been kicking something around my head - with this connection to God and goodness.

A lot of people talk about God with no adjective...as in 'God exists'. I notive in scripture God is usally given an adjective - or at least - it's part of scripture and explaining God. Like 'God is love' or 'God loves'.

The reason I bring this up is because how can we define godliness - or what I would - call goodness? I think we have to define what we mean when we say God.

If I tell someone I follow a God of love - I am defining an aspect of God I am talking about...love. When we step outside of love - we step into ungodliness.

The reason I state this is because I notice the bible talks about the good and evil dilemma in terms of morality and immorality more than anything. When we define what aspect we mean by talking about God we set certain limits in the convo - like God is kind, God is loving, or God is merciful. If we want to be good - then we need to be those certain traits we perceive in God (kindness, love, and mercy).

I notice there are title attricuted to God in the Tanakh a lot of time - like names about the character of God - like a great and awesome God (power/ability to rule)...and it helps one to determine what from the teachings reflect that nature of God.

Joe said...

Yeah, like it.

OneSmallStep said...

Andrew,

**In many religious circles a kind deed does not stand on its own right... it has to have a God connection somehow. I would argue that the fact that it is a good thing done with good intent IS its God connection.**

It seems to be very connected to the idea that one only needs God if one is "bad." Somehow, if you don't admit that everything you do is tainted with sin, you are also admitting that you don't need God.

Except we don't see that in the entire Bible -- just look at any of the Psalms. There are times when the writer needs help because of what he did, but he also needs help because of his circumstance. There are times when he feels he doesn't deserve what's happening to him.

Plus, to say that someone is good shouldn't take anything away from God. If someone tells you that your child is good, isn't this also complenting you as a parent, as you were part of helping your child learn what was good, and how to be good?

Society,

**A lot of people talk about God with no adjective...as in 'God exists'. I notive in scripture God is usally given an adjective - or at least - it's part of scripture and explaining God. Like 'God is love' or 'God loves'. **

That's not something I've thought about before. It's not just issuing a blanket word 'God,' but almost by using the word 'God,' an adjective is required. Maybe the word 'God' almost isn't effecient to stand on its own, because of the nature of the object.