You are good and do good; teach me your statutes (Psalm 119:68). When we read, sing, and meditate on the Psalms, we are confronted with an abundance of references to God’s goodness. But it seems that today many find it all too easy to overlook the goodness of God. Yet the constant echoes of God’s goodness in Scripture urge us to see that it has a biblical density beyond all other names or attributes. Divine goodness shapes us in such a way that we join with Jesus in saying “There is only one who is good” (Matt 19:17).
In this podcast, Christopher R. J. Holmes and Matthew Barrett show that divine aseity and simplicity frame our understanding of what it means to be good. They consider the metaphysics of goodness, the acts of goodness, and how God’s statutes form us in his goodness. They do so by interacting with Aquinas and his Psalms commentary where he laid out his conviction that “there is nothing better than God.” Additionally, they discuss Augustine’s key distinction between things that are said of God “substance-wise” while at other times “relationship-wise.” At the heart of this discussion is God’s action towards us in Jesus Christ. He is the savior. When we confess him we receive from him the life of the eternal Father, Son, and Spirit. Miraculously, God does communicate his goodness to us in Jesus Christ. Thus, the Lord is good. As Holmes puts it, “God’s goodness is identical to God, commensurate with God. Goodness is in God and is God himself.”
Christopher R. J. Holmes is associate professor in systematic theology at the University of Otago in New Zealand. He is an Anglican priest, and the author of The Lord is Good; The Holy Spirit; Ethics in the Presence of Christ; and Revisiting the Doctrine of the Divine Attributes: In Dialogue with Karl Barth, Eberhard Jüngel, and Wolf Krötke.
Matthew Barrett is the author of Simply Trinity: The Unmanipulated Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Baker). He is the founder and executive editor of Credo Magazine and host of the Credo podcast. He is associate professor of Christian theology at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.