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Survey Results: “What Does Good Mean?”

Image Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

I informally surveyed my friends and asked:

What does good mean? How do we determine if something is good? What is “goodness” in your own words? What is the standard?

What Is Moral Goodness?

Image Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Left in the rain! A favorite book—ruined.

It was a growing-up experience for many book lovers, accidentally ruining a prized book. And how does it feel? The feeling is sadness, but also moral guilt.

I’ve been writing about the concept of “goodness,” and today I would like to look at a special aspect of goodness: morality.

What Does “Good” Mean?

In my last post I wrote that when we say “the world is good,” we have two specific, distinct meanings: 1) the world is useful for man’s life, and 2) the world and man are useful for God’s purposes.

Today I want to generalize and discuss the full meaning of “good.”

Let’s start with the most simple meaning: “good” can mean “useful.” A tree can be good for food. A pen can be good for writing. Here, “good” means functional.

God Saw That It Was Good.

What did God mean when he looked at his creation and “saw that it was good”? If you asked ten Christians you might get ten answers!

As Christians, we need to take a deeper look at the important concept of “goodness.” Genesis 1-2 is a logical starting point. In these chapters we find the word “good” twelve times!

Understanding and Then Faith

Imagine that the Apostle John approached you and said, “Believe in Jesus. Later I will tell you who he was and what he did.” What would be the content of your belief? Faith must be in something. A level of understanding precedes faith. Faith then opens the door for greater understanding.

A famous 20th Century theologian, Cornelius Van Til, argued the reverse. He argued that, unless God exists, no understanding can be possible to man.