Wednesday, November 30, 2016


All of this talk about Genesis, about the Tree of Life, death, and the Knowledge of Good and Evil raises a bit of a difficult question, doesn't it? Adam and Eve eat a piece of sinful fruit, come into the greatest knowledge possible on this earth (the knowledge of all good and all evil) and dive for the bushes in shame. The sticky question, then, is this:

Is God not good?

It's one of those questions we don't like to even entertain as Christians, thinking that somehow even the mere asking is a sign of weak faith. But our God is a God of questions; He doesn't mind them. And good questions can only ever make our faith stronger. So here goes.

If Adam and Eve know all good and all evil in the universe, would not this imply that, if God is good, they would absolutely know this, just as much as they knew their own nakedness? And if you suddenly come to know that God is pure good, do you not go running to Him with everything that you are? This is what most people say that they're waiting for, when they aren't ready to commit to a life of faith. "If only I could know for sure," they say. Well, would not Adam and Eve have known for sure, if God truly was good? 

Where did that get them?

With poison ivy in all the wrong places.

There are, as I see it, three distinct ways to respond to this conundrum (and there are likely many more, but these three should be broad enough to cover most of the gamut). First, we could say that God is indeed good, but that this knowledge that Adam and Eve gained was not exactly how we conceive of it. Perhaps they came to know of "all things," without the knowledge itself distinguishing good from evil. And then, they were simply so troubled by their own nakedness that they did not have the time to process anything else until it was too late. Their nakedness was such a shock to them that the nature of God got pushed away for later consideration, but later never came because the Lord Himself came. 

It's not unlike God to give us the intelligence to make our own decisions about such things. In fact, if God is a God of faith and free relationship (love), then doesn't it make sense that this one tempting tree would not be capable of confirming His very essence? That does away with faith, does it not? So it is possible that Adam and Eve came to know all things, but the value judgments were somehow left to them. They could know, but they had to, for themselves, figure out what their knowing meant. 

Another possibility is that God is good but He so designed us that we would be troubled by our own nakedness, should we ever discover it. If we were not troubled by our nakedness, what would ever draw us back to God from our sin? Yes, Adam and Eve hid in the bushes, but it was God who truly covered them. It was His love that stepped in. If they had eaten the fruit and been okay with what they discovered in all knowledge, then what is the use of the Lord any longer? Perhaps God worked it into the system that all things, even all good and evil, would drive us back to Him, would make ways for His love. Doesn't that make sense?

A third possibility, the one perhaps most difficult for us even to consider, is that God is simply not good at all. Before you go crying "blasphemy!," hear me out. When God reveals Himself to His people, "good" is not one of the things He reminds them of about Himself. He declares His faithfulness again and again, but faithfulness is not quite the same as goodness. He most often simply says, "I Am." So if God simply is, then is it fair to put a human judgment of quality on that is-ness? We have called Him good, but what if the knowledge of good and evil does not contain a revelation about God at all? What if the reason that Adam and Eve did not go running to God for His overwhelming goodness when their eyes were opened is because God was not revealed to be good? Rather, they knew of Him only what they had ever known of Him: He is

I don't think that has to be theologically troubling. After all, isn't that still true of our relationship with God? Many Christians, even the most devout Christians, struggle to explain God's "goodness" in the face of such evil in our world. But what if God just isn't good? What if that's our problem? What if God just is? I kind of like that idea. A lot. Rather than creating theological difficulties, it solves a lot of them.

Doesn't it?

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