There are two key ideas which emerge in the Bible about the goodness of God. The first of these is that god is good; the second is the idea that God’s actions are good. In both the New Testament and The Jewish Scriptures we can find clear images of God’s goodness through his interaction with the world and him being the ex nihilo Creator of the world. His goodness is reinforced in the Bible through the repetition that his actions are good, for example, in Genesis 1 it states ‘God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.’
God’s goodness can also be seen through his actions for the benefit of the people, for example healing (e.g. in the Gospels) or support of his followers in battle (e.g. at Jericho and freeing the slaves from Egypt, “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery”). Again the idea emerges that God’s activity within the world is to be seen as good. The goodness of God’s actions is not a matter of human judgment; this is clearly seen in the story of Abraham’s attempt to sacrifice his only son Isaac at the command of God. In this story it is evident that God is challenging Abraham to do something which to most human’s would seem to be immoral and so many would question God’s goodness. However this story also raises the idea that God is the lord and master of all, whose will is beyond human comprehension and so it is our duty to respond to and obey the commands of God even if we believe the outcome to be immoral. In this story we learn that God is testing Abraham’s responses to God’s commands even if the action involves surrendering your will and wishes to God.
The story of Abraham reinforces the idea that God’s goodness is not for human judgment as it is a human’s duty to follow God’s commands and trust in his goodness and wisdom even if it is beyond our understanding. For example in Job 40, ‘The LORD said to Job: “Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct him? Let him who accuses God answer him!” Then Job answered the LORD:”I am unworthy—how can I reply to you?’ This therefore shows that as humans we are not to question or correct God because he is almighty and perfect. Another way in which God’s goodness is shown in the Bible is through Jesus’ incarnation death and resurrection. God sends Jesus, his only son, ‘as an atoning sacrifice for our sins’-John 4:10 and subsequently anyone who ‘believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life’- John 3:16. Jesus life, death and resurrection also show God’s love for people.
The imagery used in the Bible is clearly anthropomorphic as God is made to be a fighter, a warrior, a mother hen and also a king, e.g. in the parable of the last judgment God is pictured as a king judging people, separating the good from the bad. These images attempt to communicate the awareness of the goodness of God and God’s goodness within the world.
Both Plato’s form of the Good and God are sources of goodness. God is clearly pictured as being good and the source of goodness and the Form of the good self-evidently is ‘good’. Secondly, Plato states that the Forms are not material, physical things and, in similar manner, God is transcendent. Whilst in the Bible God is described as acting in human like ways, there is also an awareness that God is different from human beings and thus God’s goodness is not always understandable in human ways.