Stand to Reason Blog: Challenge: Does God Have Free Will?

Stand to Reason Blog: Challenge: Does God Have Free Will?.

Stand to Reason has bi-weekly question whereby readers of the blog can post questions for other readers to respond to. I found a recent question interesting. The question posted is as follows:

If morality is in God’s nature, then He is omnibenevolent, right? Does that mean that God cannot choose evil? So, if God cannot choose to do evil, does that mean He doesn’t have free will?

I have linked to the blog above. We should keep in mind when responding to this question that the Bible states that things do exist that God cannot do. For example, Hebrews 6:18 tells us God cannot lie.

Hebrews 6:18

so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us.
Does this mean that God does not have free will? I suggest taking a look at an article on letusreason.org before answering the question, which gives a list of things God cannot do. If you prefer the Cliff’s Notes version I can summarize as follows: God cannot do anything that is against His nature. So what is against His nature? Here are a few examples:
  • Sin
  • Deceit
  • Evil in general
  • Speaking falsehoods

I could go on, but I will not. God is good. The very basis of objective moral truths and duties. As such, anything contrary to God’s nature is not good, but let’s get back to the question. Does God have free will? The answer is, absolutely, yes. After all, how can a being without free will create beings with free will. Seems contrary in nature. Additionally, God makes choices all throughout history in a free fashion. God is both omniscient, and omnipresent. As such, God is in a unique position to exercise His free will with the benefit of knowing what the outcome of those choices will be until the end of time.

Let us take one more look at this from a different angle. Let’s take me. for example. I cannot throw a 1983 Chevy Malibu across the street. Does that mean I do not have free will? Certainly not. This does, however, speak to my limitedness, whereas God is unlimited. If God cannot do certain things doesn’t that limit Him? I contend that the fact that God cannot do the types of things listed above speaks to God’s power rather than perceived weakness. Items such as sin, deceit, evil,  and lies show a tremendous amount of weakness. The fact that God cannot engage in such activities means that God is so powerful that His power cannot be lessened by the issues of the world that plague mankind. How else can we have faith in God unless He is the ever-constant, omnibenevolent, omniscient, omnipotent, ever-graceful being that we know Him to be? I could never worship a God who is subject to the same weaknesses that I am through my sin-nature. Consider Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10:

2 Corinthians 12:9

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

2 Corinthians 12:10

For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
A weak God could not give us strength in the times of our weakness. Only a God who cannot do things such as those listed above can provide strength, as one additional thing exists that God cannot do… God cannot be weak. God is good/strong/benevolent/awesome, and that is why I am…
believinforareason

The Morality of God in the Old Testament Part 3: The Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah

Genesis chapters 18 and 19 tell of God’s destruction of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Does this show that God is immoral for killing the men, women and children in these cities? What about free will? Did God override our gift of free will out of wrath?

Background

Three men visited Abraham. As it turned out these men were the Lord and two angels. The Lord was en route to Sodom  as the Lord had heard the outcry that the people of Sodom and Gomorrah were sinning gravely (See Genesis chapters 18 & 19 for the full text). Abraham attempted to intercede asking the Lord if He would spare the cities if 50 righteous people were found, then 45, then 40, then 30 until Abraham went as low as 10 righteous people. Each time the Lord agreed He would spare the cities if the number of righteous people Abraham suggested were found within. The Lord then sent the angels ahead to Sodom. Once the angels arrived in Sodom Abraham’s brother, Lot, took them in, and was hospitable, as was the strict custom in the region during this time.

Map of Sodom and Gomorrah locations by bibleatlas.org

Before the angels laid down for the night Lot’s house was surrounded by the men of Sodom, who insisted that Lot release the men (in this case, angels, but the men of Sodom were unaware of this fact), so the men of Sodom could have sex with the strangers. Lot refused, and even offered his own virgin daughters to the men of Sodom instead! The men of Sodom refused the offering of Lot’s daughters and rushed Lot, but the angels pulled Lot inside, and blinded the men of Sodom, so they could not find their way inside. Lot was allowed to leave Sodom with his two daughters to Zoar (his son-in-laws-to-be refused to leave), and the Lord rained sulfur and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah thereby killing all of the people in the two cities.

What does the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah say about the morality of God in the Old Testament?

The short answer is the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah is demonstrative of two attributes of God: His pure goodness, and His grace. Consider that God said the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah were “very grave” (ESV), or “extremely serious” (HCSB). For the Lord, in His purity and goodness, to give special attention to the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah the immorality and sinfulness of the people of the cities had to have been outstandingly heinous. Further, the Lord’s omniscience allows Him to see what will happen in the future should the gravely sinful acts of the people of the cities be allowed to continue unchecked. Certainly we have evidence of what could have occurred (albeit on a much larger scale if the cities were not destroyed) recorded in the book of Numbers, which we will get into briefly in a bit. The Lord was outraged at the people of the cities in a way that no other being could be based on His own pure goodness. The Lord showed His grace by destroying the people of Sodom and Gomorrah thereby eliminating the possibility of the grievous sins of the people infecting others who may have come in contact with the people of the cities.

Did God directly impede His gift of free will by destroying Sodom and Gomorrah?

No, God certainly did not get in the way of the gift of free will the people of Sodom and Gomorrah were enjoying so frivolously. The impediment of free will should not be confused with consequences borne of the choices one makes. All choices have consequences. In this case the choices made by the people of Sodom and Gomorrah led to their ultimate demise. Any individual living today faces the same danger. While we may not see the Lord rain down sulfur and fire we certainly could face an eternity spent in a similar environment should we make choices in life that separate us from the Lord.

A taste of what could have been

We got a peek into Lot’s twisted sense of right and wrong based on the influence of Sodom when lot offered his own daughters to the men of Sodom in order to protect his house guests. The moral corruption does not stop there. After fleeing Sodom, Lot’s daughters executed a plan to get Lot drunk on wine, so they could have babies by him. Their plan worked, and each of the daughters birthed a son.

37 The older daughter had a son, and she named him Moab; he is the father of the Moabites of today.

If you recall in my post, The Morality of God in the Old Testament Part 2: Would a Moral God Condone Genocide and Rape?, it was the daughters of Moab and Midian that seduced the Israelites in an effort to curse the Israelites. Imagine this type of corruption on a much larger scale if two full cities of like-minded sinners were allowed to continue.

God alone can forgive us our sins, but only if we truly seek Him to do so. God is the ultimate good. Ask yourself, would you do anything less for your children? When you ask yourself that question bare in mind that our human anger is more often then not, unjustified. God’s anger is righteous and just, as He knows all and sees all. Without God no objective moral truths or duties can exist, as we have no ultimate good on which to base such objectivity. God is good, and that is why I am…

believinforareason

Hell, Free Will, and the Importance of Options

I was reading an article on the CARM website by Matt Slick:

Does God hate anyone? | Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.

I was prompted to read this article due to a conversation I had recently with a fellow blogger, and a podcast I listened to consisting of a debate between Dr. William Lane Craig and Shabir Ally. All of these topics really came down to the following four questions in my mind:

  • Does God hate anyone?
  • Do people get sent to hell?
  • How important is free will?
  • What are we gonna do about it?!?

I believe the article by Matt Slick presents come compelling evidence that God does “hate”. I would, however, add that hate from God falls into the righteous anger bucket, while human hate falls into the unforgiving sinner bucket. So what does God due to those He has righteous anger toward? He disciplines them, of course. This concept is explained well in Hebrews 12:5-11:

 5And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?

#“My son, #do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,

nor be weary when reproved by him.

6For #the Lord disciplines the one he loves,

and chastises every son whom he receives.”

7It is for discipline that you have to endure. #God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8If you are left without discipline, #in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to #the Father of spirits #and live? 10For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, #that we may share his holiness. 11#For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields #the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

So, is part of that discipline sending those individuals to hell? I do not believe so. After all, going to hell is optional. God provides us with the knowledge and tools to understand Him, and follow His will. Furthermore, He provides us with free will to make the choice to use that knowledge and those tools in a way that is pleasing to Him. If we choose to turn away from that which God has provided we are, in a very real sense, choosing hell. Certainly we do not have a situation here where an individual has done everything he or she could do to have a relationship with God, but God decided to “send” him or her to hell. Folks are just opting in!

Let us not forget that one of the most arguably amazing attributes of God is grace. So why does God let people make choices that result in an eternity in Hell? I would answer that by asking the question: how important is free will? I contend that free will is extremely important. Without free will what is the point? We cannot love God or anyone else without free will. None of the “choices” we make in life would have any meaning because we would have no choices to make – no free will. Should God step in where He sees fit, and interject to ensure that hell remains having plenty of vacancies? I would argue that free will is an all or nothing proposition. 
OK, so we have free will, and can make choices that keep us out of the whole weeping a gnashing of teeth scenario, but let us look at this from a different angle. My worldview includes an omniscient God. If God knows all than God knows which people will not accept Him, and will ultimately end up in Hell. Is this really fair? In fewer than 500 words… yes. Let us not forget that God calls us to be witnesses.Matthew 28:19-20 reads:

 19#Go therefore and #make disciples of #all nations, #baptizing them #in# #the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20teaching them #to observe all that #I have commanded you. And behold, #I am with you always, to #the end of the age.”

So, if we – Christians – would be work harder at what we are called by God to do perhaps fewer people would be born with the inevitable life conclusion resulting in an eternity in hell.

Let us not blame God for “sending” people to hell. Let’s smash the walls off of our comfort zone, and go do something about it. After all, we could be one conversation away from keeping hell at least one soul lighter.

The Morality of God in the Old Testament part 2: Would a Moral God Condone Genocide and Rape?

The Morality of God in the Old Testament part 2Intro

Welcome to part 2 in a series of posts on the morality of God in the Old Testament. In this post we will discuss the Israelite conflict with the Midianites.

Numbers 31 tells of God speaking to Moses with instructions that the Israelites should:

2 “Avenge the people of Israel on the Midianites. Afterward you shall be gathered to your people.”

What was so bad about the Midianites?

Vengeance may, at face value, seem like a concept outside of God’s character; however, the commands given to Moses did not stop at vengeance.

17 Now therefore, kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman who has known man by lying with him. 18 But all the young girls who have not known man by lying with him keep alive for yourselves.

This is where this chapter of Numbers really gets a lot of questions. The two most frequent questions I see are as follows:

  1. Does this account go so far as to constitute genocide?
  2. Does God really give instructions to the Israelites to keep the virgin girls for themselves for the purposes of rape?

Before we address these two questions we should likely first answer the question: What was so bad about the Midianites?

Numbers 25 tells us:

1While Israel lived in Shittim, the people began to whore with the daughters of Moab. 2 These invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate and bowed down to their gods

In this case, the people of Moab and Midian specifically sought to curse the Israelites at the direction of Balak. Instead, however, of direct assault against the Israelites the daughters of Moab and Midian were used to seduce Israelite men into committing acts of sexual immorality, and worshipping pagan Gods. Considering this type of behavior is in direct conflict of the laws given to the Israelites by the Lord through Moses. This was the gist of why the Lord was angry with both the Israelites and the Midianites.

Equal Opportunity

Prior to the Lord striking the Midianites through use of the Israelites the Israelite transgressors were first dealt with – the leaders of the transgression more severely, and the remainder with a plague that took the lives of 24,000 Israelites. Of course, no one today should be surprised that the Lord disciplined His chosen people. After all, Hebrews 12:5-6 tells us “… “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves and chastises every son whom he receives”.

The discipline of the Israelites did not, however, mean that the Midianites would not have to pay a price for purposefully leading the Israelites into sin.

Back to the Questions

  • Does this account go so far as to constitute geonocide?

The short answer is, no. Dictionary.com defines genocide as “the deliberate and systematic extermination of a national, racial, political, or cultural group”. Thus, by definition this event does not constitute genocide, as a portion of the Midianites were spared. Certainly this event is not akin to the Holocaust.

  • Does God really give instructions to the Israelites to keep the virgin girls for themselves for the purposes of rape?

To be fair, the text has no indication that God gave a specific command to rape the Midianite virgins. Secondly, God commands those who were in battle, and any spoils from that battle to remain outside the camp for seven days to go through a purification prior to reintegrating with the camp (Numbers 31 19-20).

 19 Encamp outside the camp seven days. Whoever of you has killed any person and whoever has touched any slain, purify yourselves and your captives on the third day and on the seventh day. 20 You shall purify every garment, every article of skin, all work of goats’ hair, and every article of wood.

Sexual relations with any of the women captured would have caused further impurity thus disallowing the soldiers back into the camp for an extended period of time. The text makes no reference of such instances. Clearly, no evidence exists to assume the Midianite girls were kept for the purposes of rape. One may ask why only the virgins were kept. Logically, the virgin Midianite girls could not have been part of the plot to curse the Israelites through seduction since those girls had not laid with any man. As such, these girls were spared punishment.

Still, was all of this really morally correct?

The difference between God’s anger or vengeance and our anger or vengeance is God is always just. Our anger more often then not stems from our sin nature, and is therefore not righteous anger. Furthermore, God is omniscient. He knows all outcomes, everything that was and everything that will be. God is in the ultimate position to make decisions involving human life. We owe God everything, yet He owes us nothing. In the case of the Midianites we had a people attempting to corrupt another group of people in a very specific manner. We can hardly attempt to consider the Midianites innocent in this matter. Certainly the Israelites that fell victim should have had the fortitude to turn away from Sin; however, despite being the chosen people of God the Israelites were still human. As humans we will sin. This is not an excuse for the Israelites – just a statement of fact.

The bottom line? God is just. God is morality. God is good.

And I am believinforareason.

The Morality of God in the Old Testament Part 1: Would a Moral God Kill Children?

Intro

I have debated with several atheists regarding the morality of God. These debates inevitably focus on events described in the Old Testament. This blog will be the first in a series commenting on typical Old Testament scripture cited when atheists are railing the alleged immorality of God. The first Old Testament scripture I would like to dig into is found in the book of Exodus, and is regarding the final plague against Pharaoh, and the people of Egypt – death of the first-born child.

Background

In this book of he Bible God speaks to Moses, and gives him instructions to go to Pharaoh with his brother Aaron with a plea to let the Israelites leave Egypt to go into the wilderness, so they might worship God. Gd directs Moses to give Pharaoh an ultimatum with each refusal from Pharaoh yielding an increasingly worse plague set forth by God. The tenth and final plague involves the death of the firstborn child of every Egyptian. Admittedly killing children is shocking enough, but the piece that really hangs folks up is the mentions of God hardening Pharaoh’s heart, which, at face value, is oftentimes interpreted as God purposefully precluding Pharaoh from letting the Israelites go. Further, this then inevitably invokes the notion at God wanted to kill he firstborn children of the Egyptians – an absurd notion, but I understand the confusion.

Hardening of Hearts

The hardening of Pharaoh’s heart is spoken of many times throughout Exodus. One of the earlier mentions is in Exodus 4:21. In the ESV of the Bible Exodus 4:21 reads, “And the Lord said to Moses, “When you go back to Egypt, see that you do before Pharaoh all the miracles that I have put in y our power. But I will harden his heart, so that he will not let the people go” (youversion.com). The next reference occurs in Exodus 7:3, “But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and though I multiply my signs and wonders in the in the land of Egypt [7:4] Pharaoh will not listen to you” (youversion.com). Ah, but in Exodus 8:15 it reads, “But when Pharaoh saw that there was a respite, he hardened his heart and would not listen to them, as the Lord said”, and in Exodus 8:32, “But Pharaoh hardened his heart this time also, and did not let the people go” (youversion.com). So who is hardening whose heart here anyway? Again, in Exodus 8:12 we are back to the Lord hardening Pharaoh’s heart. But in Exodus 9:34 Pharaoh is said to have hardened his heart. By the time we get to Exodus 10:1 the Lord says He has hardened not only Pharaoh’s heart, but the hearts of his servants as well.

In the article by Dr. Dave Miller and Kyle Butt, Who Hardened Pharaoh’s Heart?, the question posed by the title of the article is addressed in two ways. I will attempt to summarize:

  1. The first point explains, “In his copious work on biblical figures of speech, E.W. Bullinger listed several ways that the Hebrew and Greek languages used verbs to mean something other than their strict, literal usage. He listed several verses that show that the languages “used active verbs to express the agent’s design or attempt to do anything, even though the thing was not actually done” (1898, p. 821)”. I may, for example, say someone made me look ridiculous; however, in reality, I looked ridiculous due to my own actions.
  2. The second point explains, “Bullinger’s fourth list of idiomatic verbs deals with active verbs that “were used by the Hebrews to express, not the doing of the thing, but the permission of the thing which the agent is said to do” (p. 823, emp. in orig.)”. In this sense God allowed the circumstances for the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart (read, “free will”), but did not actively harden Pharaoh’s heart.

To answer the question, Pharaoh hardened his own heart while God allowed the circumstances (through human free-will) for Pharaoh’s heart to be hardened.

OK, But Why Kill Children at All?

Let us not forget that the Egyptians were not innocent in the book of Exodus. Look at Exodus 1:8-16, for example:

8 Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. 9 And he said to his people, “Behold, the people of Israel are too many and too mighty for us. 10 Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, lest they multiply, and, if war breaks out, they join our enemies and fight against us and escape from the land.” 11 Therefore they set taskmasters over them to afflict them with heavy burdens. They built for Pharaoh store cities, Pithom and Raamses. 12 But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and the more they spread abroad. And the Egyptians were in dread of the people of Israel. 13 So they ruthlessly made the people of Israel work as slaves 14 and made their lives bitter with hard service, in mortar and brick, and in all kinds of work in the field. In all their work they ruthlessly made them work as slaves.

15 Then the king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiphrah and the other Puah, 16 “When you serve as midwife to the Hebrew women and see them on the birthstool, if it is a son, you shall kill him, but if it is a daughter, she shall live.”

Pharaoh, in this case, made the first move in attempting the kill the firstborn of the Israelites as a matter of oppression, and population control. It is important to note here that the term “firstborn” refers specifically to the first male child born. Exodus 21:23-25 provides an example of the “eye for an eye” laws set forth with regard to slave ownership (similar to the code of Hammurabi). Early in Exodus the Israelites are certainly slaves to the Egyptians.

23 But if there is harm,t then you shall pay life for life, 24 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.

So we have an established premise for the 10th plague. Certainly not just killing kids for the fun of it. Glenn Miller of Christian Think Tank crunched the numbers in his response to a reader inquiry entitled Was God being evil when He killed the firstborn in Egypt?. In summary, Miller estimates: Innocent Egyptians killed in the tenth plague: 69,000; Innocent Hebrew infanticide killed in the infanticide program of Pharaoh (and successors): 2,750,000. The Egyptians are really beginning to look less innocent by the minute here.

OK, but still… killing children? 

Were it not for God taking the lives of these Egyptian children a few things would have happened:

  • Hebrew firstborns would have continued being slaughtered by the millions
  • Egyptian children would have been raised in a culture that supports infanticide and physical oppression
  • The Lord would not have fulfilled his promise to the Israelites

In this case the Lord actually saved more children’s lives then he ended. Additionally, the Bible does not indicate that the Lord tortured these children. The children’s physical lives were ceased; however, the souls of the children would have been allowed to live for eternity with God in perfect peace – a far cry from the horror brought by the Egyptians against the Israelites.

Conclusion

No doubt that this particular event in Exodus does not show the Lord as immoral, but as graceful, loving, fair and just. Ultimately, the frequent misconception regarding this event is due to a misconception of God’s nature… His essence. God is good – the basis for all objective moral truths and duties. Without God we have no basis for objective moral truths and duties, as everything becomes subjective. Something may be perfect relative to imperfection, but when we compare our lives to Jesus how far we have fallen becomes abundantly clear. The morality of the Old Testament God is identical to that of the New Testament God, as the two beings are one and the same. No line in the sand exists.

God is good, and this story found in Exodus is just another example of why I am…

believin’ for a reason!

The Terrible Truth of Relative Morality

William Lane Craig vs. Sam Harris: Is Good from God?

For some time now I have been interested in the question of whether or not God can exercise a choice to commit an evil act. Arguably this question has a direct impact on the question of how one goes about establishing what is objective moral truth, and if objective moral truth can be established sans God.

Recently I have been listening to a podcast of a relatively older debate between Dr. William Lane Craig, highly regarded Christian apologist, and Dr. Sam Harris, highly regarded atheist, on the subject of whether or not objective moral truth can exist in the absence of God.

http://www.reasonablefaith.org/the-sam-harris-debate

As one might imagine Dr. Craig argued that objective moral truth cannot exist without the existence of God, as God is essentially good, thus God is the basis by which all objective moral truth is measured. Certainly Dr. Harris took the opposing view attempting to leverage science to explain that objective moral truth was not dependent on divinity, as objective moral truth is founded on the universal understanding of sentient beings that collective well being is the basis by which “good” is measured.

As one might assume the Craig-Harris debate went on for some time with well thought out arguments presented by each side. The short version is that Dr. Harris, in this case, did not have a proverbial leg to stand on. Regardless of how Dr. Harris use shocking examples to attempt to support his viewpoint Harris did nothing more than repeatedly provide examples of relative goodness based on the well being of sentient creatures. Working in quality control in a food manufacturing environment I am used to referencing regulatory agencies, and audit standards as an authoritative basis on which to make decisions. When a question arises, which sparks a debate over a particular requirement I cannot simply phone a friend for the final answer. I require a reference from an authoritative source by which to judge the situation, and determine precisely if the product is compliant or noncompliant. Without that reference point from a recognized authority I would have no other option, but to compare the situation to a similar situation that has occurred in the past. Even then the best I can do is conclude that the product in question is either compliant or noncompliant relative to the situation to which I am comparing.

Thus, without God as the ultimate authoritative reference of goodness, morality, compassion, and so forth, we are left with subpar references by which we can hope to do no better than to determine subjectivemoral truths relative to experience, or societal norms, or similar situations. Certainly I can see the appeal here, as I would have no problem whatsoever being morally “good” when compared to a murderer, child abuser, or [insert emotion-triggering imagery here]. Nonetheless, I am convinced God not only exists, but it the very definition of goodness and morality. Following that logic, I cannot in good conscience measure the level of “goodness” or “morality” I have achieved by relative comparison with individuals as inferior as I am. I must strive for something more, and that something more requires the dedication and devotion of my life to Christ. Compared to Charles Manson I am saintly. Compared to Jesus Christ I am closer to Charles Manson. Regardless, through the compassion of God I am given an unimaginable gift of reprieve. By striving to live more like Jesus I can have confidence that I am coming closer to being a “good” person, not by comparison to other sinful creatures, but through actively seeking the objective moral truths of Jesus Christ.

God is good.

How Good is Good Enough?

Not too long ago I finished reading Andy Stanley’s book “How Good is Good Enough”. I wish I would have read this book prior to the conversation with my close friend I mentioned in an earlier post. This is a question I struggled with when asked why God would let “good” people go to hell simply for not accepting Jesus as Lord and savior. One point Stanley brought up is the lack of a specific metric to indicate what equals “good”. Good to me may very not mean good to someone else. Is good just never killing anybody? If so, that is an easy one! Does good mean never comitting adultery? No sweat! The Bible throws a wrench into the “I am a good person” theory. Jesus explains in Matthew 5:28, “But I tell you, everyone who looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart”. Say what?!? So if you even think about lusting after another woman you have already sinned. For some, this point alone makes the “good” thing not so easy. Let’s look at extremes. Is the meaning of “good” in the mind of Hitler congruent with the meaning of good to Billy Graham? Not likely. The New Testament is chock full of occurrences of Jesus forgiving people who were far from the average individual’s definition of good. Jesus forgives prostitutes and tax collectors and people who were routinely cast from society.

So why would God allow good people to go to Hell? Keep in mind that good compared to woldly people is not much of an accomplishment. Everyone is full of sin of one kind or another. The key to Heaven is striving to be good relative to Jesus. The Bible gives very clear instructions on how to achieve this. Not necessarily easy instructions to follow, but instructions nonetheless. I suppose following the instructions laid out in the Bible has got to be easier than attempting to conform to some human definition of good with no specific set of guidelines or boundaries. Ultimately, being good just isn’t good enough, but we have a pretty decent “how-to” book on doing what it takes.