On God’s goodness

February 16, 2010

From C.S. Lewis’s Problem of Pain:

… It is not simply that God has arbitrarily made us such that He is our only good. Rather God is the only good of all creatures: and by necessity, each must find its good in that kind and degree of the fruition of God which is proper to its nature… George MacDonald… represents God as saying to men, ‘You must be strong with my strength and blessed with my blessedness, for I have no other to give you.‘ That is the conclusion of the whole matter. God gives what He has, not what He has not: He gives the happiness that there is, not the happiness that is not. To be God—to be like God and to share His goodness in creaturely response—to be miserable—these are the only three alternatives. If we will not learn to eat the only food that the universe grows—the only food that any possible universe ever can grow—then we must starve eternally.[1]

Good stuff! This passage demonstrates that Lewis loves the em-dash more than I do, if that were possible! It also reminds me of St. Augustine, who said that we “love God with God.” From Augustine’s perspective, we love God most fully when we become like empty vessels through which the Holy Spirit returns the love God gives us as a gift back to God. We only love, in general, with the love God gives us; there is no other, lesser kind. Whatever is good is from God; there is no good apart from God. That we experience goodness and love imperfectly in this world, and to wildly varying degrees, is a measure of sin and evil.

1. C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain (New York: HarperOne, 1996), 47.

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