God’s Goodness, Grace, & Mercy
March 9, 2011 § Leave a comment
In this Blog’s prior Page, “The Qualitative Purpose of Life”, God’s Qualitative Attribute of Perfection was pondered. Reasoning further regarding God’s Perfection and the contingency and non-necessity of Creation, we are also able to deduce God’s additional Attributes of Goodness, Grace, and Mercy. As it will be shown, these closely relate to one another and at least some overlap is apparent. However, each of these attributes can be discerned and contemplated individually.
Arguments are made that the world is wrought with evil and, therefore, God’s Goodness cannot be supposed. The larger problem of evil and whether He can be assumed to be All-Good, is not the issue of my focus here. Perhaps an argument opposing evil or a theodicy will be dealt with in another future Post. Suffice it to say for now that I do believe in the theistic conception of God as All-Good and inherently free of any evil capability.
Admittedly, what is commonly referred to as evil does exists in the world – hardship, suffering, and injustice, for example. What only need be mentioned presently is that there undoubtedly exists at least some good in the world. For example, consider Love and the presence of its values of acceptance, compassion, forgiveness, and understanding. These require an accounting for of the source of their goodness. For every effect has a cause; every end a means. As for Creation, but for God’s Goodness as origination of all else, no goodness at all in the world would exist. To differing degrees, all things are representative of Him as their Creator; all multiplicity is an image to some extent of God’s Being. While ultimately falling short of His Absolute Perfection, they are nonetheless at least good in and through their participation in God. Compared to God, Creation is imperfect. However, in that He Created all things, the individual aspects comprising Creation are still perfect in a sense.
Regarding God’s Grace, His Creation accounts for my and the world’s existence. Undoubtedly, existence is to be preferred to non-existence. As has been mentioned previously, Creation is unnecessary in the sense that it provides God with no benefit. It is pure gift, manifested givingly, selflessly, and unconditionally by Him.
With respect to God’s Mercy, it has already been mentioned that compared to Him, Creation is imperfect. While perfect in the sense that they are Created by God, as contingent and unnecessary multiplicity, all things lack God’s Absolute Perfection. Every aspect of Creation is subject to change, sometimes for the better as in the case of the laws of nature; sometimes for the worse as in the case of the misuse free will. Regarding the latter, I can elevate the quality of my life by choosing to align my will with that of God’s. On the other hand, I can descend to live a life in disregard of His Will in favor of my own. The choice is mine but regardless of that which I choose, I will for the time being at least continue to exist nonetheless. Like most, I generally consider myself to be a “good person” but I have been and in the future will be guilty of misusing my free will and making the wrong choice despite knowledge of the right one. I have and will sin; fall short; wander from the straight path. My rampant shortcomings represent an impassable gulf created between God’s Perfection and my imperfection. That He Sustains my existence nonetheless is almost inexplicable; yet God does.
The Mercy shown by God through this reality is further reinforced when it is realized that because of His Sustenance of my existence, I now have the opportunity to right my wrongs and begin living in accordance with God’s Will. Despite my shortcomings of the past and those likely in the future, His Mercy allows for my chance to attain a meaningful existence consistent with life’s purpose. Thus, I’m indebted to God not merely for His Gracious Creation and Merciful Sustenance of the world in general and my life in specific, but also for the second chance that God provides on a moment to moment basis, for which I am utterly unworthy and undeserving.
In my next Post, “Social Justice, Not a Bleeding Heart”, I will address the response required from me in light of God’s Goodness, Grace, and Mercy. Its a good start to identify His attributes such as these. But doing so in absence of my thinking and acting consistently with the duties which consequently follow from them amounts to impractical and useless knowledge for knowledge’s sake.