How do we know God is good?

Hi All,

I have heard the question above and I struggle to answer it. Do we think God is good because he created everything, including our concept of right and wrong, so that what He thinks is good we do also or because He reflects a standard of moral perfection? If so, wouldn’t this standard be above God by which to judge His goodness? I’m sure I’ve not phrased that in the most eloquent way so I hope you can understand my question.

I suppose another way to phrase it would be if God commanded something bad, would we think it was good?

I think God is good but what is an objective way of proving why that is?

Thank you in advance



@stevenainsworth85 A strong case can be made that God, by definition, is good if He exists (see below articles). However, I am inclined to say that God never offers that as the main method of knowing His goodness. Throughout the Scriptures God invites us to drink freely of the waters of life; to taste and see that the Lord is good. And ultimately it is in the Gospel that we see the love of God expressed in the most powerful form - the sacrificial love of the Savior.

Psalms 34:8 - Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.

Matthew 11:28-30 - “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Romans 5:8 - 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Isaiah 55:1-2 - “Come, all you who are thirsty,
come to the waters;
and you who have no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without cost.
2 Why spend money on what is not bread,
and your labor on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,
and you will delight in the richest of fare.

Revelation 22:17 - The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.

Response from William Lane Craig

Now at one level, as I explained in last week’s Question #294, that question is easy to answer: it is conceptually necessary that God be good. That is to say, goodness belongs to the very concept of God, just as being unmarried belongs to the concept of a bachelor. For (i) by definition God is a being worthy of worship, and only a being which is perfectly good would be worthy of worship; and (ii) as the greatest conceivable being God must be morally perfect, since it is better to be morally perfect than morally flawed.

This implies that God may act in ways that can be shocking to us. C. S. Lewis once remarked, “What do people mean when they say that they’re not afraid of God because they know that He is good? Have they never even been to the dentist?” In the Chronicles of Narnia, Lewis epitomizes this truth when it is explained to the children that Aslan is not a tame lion—but he is good.

God’s Will as Good

In the following article, it is argued that God’s will is good because it is in keeping with God’s character. A few defenses are offered to common objections.

There are two objections often raised against this view. First, it is alleged that it is a form of authoritarianism. This objection, however, is valid only if the authority is less than ultimate. That is, if any finite creature professed to have this ultimate authority, then we could rightly cry “authoritarianism.” However, there is nothing wrong with acknowledging that the Ultimate Authority has ultimate authority. If an absolutely perfect God exists, then by His very nature He is the ultimate standard for what is good and what is not.

The second objection argues that defining good in terms of God’s will is arbitrary. This objection applies, however, only to a voluntaristic view of good, not to an essentialistic view. A voluntarist believes that something is good simply because God wills it. An essentialist, on the other hand, holds that God wills something because it is good in accordance with His own nature. This form of the divine command view of ethics escapes these criticisms and forms the basis for a Christian ethic.