In concluding the series about What it means to call God Perfect? I went fairly deep into the topic of Dissecting the Anatomy of a Perfect God. This post is more of a cumulative case argument against the dynamic attributes of a Perfect God. So, lets start with the basics: Is God Perfect? And What does it mean to call God Perfect?
“The definition of perfection is something or someone that has no defects. From a Christian perspective only God fulfills this definition.” -(Access-Jesus.com, Definition of Perfection: A Christian Perspective)
- Excellent or complete beyond practical or theoretical improvement
- Entirely without any flaws, defects, or shortcomings
- Lacking nothing essential to the whole; complete of its nature or kind
Being without defect or blemish, blameless and sinless
Without faults: without errors, flaws, or faults “in perfect condition”
Complete and whole: complete and lacking nothing essential
Excellent or ideal: excellent or ideal in every way
- Having all the necessary or typical characteristics required for a given situation
- Utter and absolute perfection, free from error and flaw
The above is some of the more common dictionary definition of perfection used in common language. However in theological terms, it is somewhat varied. For example in Blue Letter Bible, they imply that ‘God is absolute in his perfection in that there is nothing lacking in his character or nature. He does not need anything or anyone to exist. He is complete within Himself. He is, therefore, the perfect, eternal spirit.‘
In addition to dissecting the definition of a Perfect God, we must also take a scalpel to other areas of this theological conversation and ask ourselves. Does the Concept of a Perfect God even make sense? And from what we can tell about our existential experience can we attribute the character of perfection to the Judeo-Christian God?
The Bible says we should be perfect as our father in heaven is perfect. This is an odd standard to articulate considering that no one is perfect, and absolute perfection is unattainable. But in dissecting the meaning of perfection, one great starting point is the attributed attributes of the character of God which makes him perfect. With the following traits and characteristics of God being examined and evaluated:
- God’s Perfect Word. Is the Bible God’s Perfect word?
- God’s Perfect Covenant. Why a second Covenant if the previous was Perfect?
- God’s Perfect Divine Plan
- God the Perfect Judge, How can a Judge be perfectly Just and perfectly Merciful?
- Is God’s Love perfectly good?
- A Perfect Creator, Can a perfect God be the creator of an imperfect world?
- The Philosophy & Ontology of God’s perfection
- Does God measure up to his own Biblical Standard of Perfect?
- Is the Concept of God Illogical?
God’s Perfect Bible, as according to the bible, we are called to be perfect as our heavenly father is perfect. To infer that the Bible is perfect, because it was inspired by a perfect deity is a very rational expectation, but questionable. But it’s hard to even to consider that this divine being could be responsible for such a flawed book. However this is deeply questionable because after careful consideration, there are a number of alleged bible difficulties. That if we were to grade God’s perfection by his works the Bible, this would easily be classified as an epic fail.
However the common argument against this, is that the bible was inspired by God, but flawed because it was written by God. And that the bible is not God’s perfect word, but it does contain (some of) his spoken word. As the Christian Blogger Unkle put it:
“I conclude then that the Bible cannot be said with any confidence to be the “word of God” in the sense of the actual words of God. It doesn’t make this claim in any clear way. It clearly had human authors, who believed they were recording important words or events that revealed God. That God inspired them and led them is clearly a reasonable conclusion, but it is by no means clear that God gave them the exact [perfect] words.”
Perfect Covenant, Surely a Perfect God would have a perfect law or what some may call a perfect covenant. However God’s perfect covenantal law also falls short, for he needs several to improve upon the previous one he made. Well the apologist claims that the Old Covenant was perfect, but that it was man could not be made perfect, because no man could follow the whole law and covenant. The law could not atone for all sins eternally. The law could not make the sinful man right nor clean…Well, DUH. You don’t need a law degree to figure that out. No law ever, in the history of mankind, has fixed all problems or made man perfect. Only a fool would think that a law could make a man perfect. I think this the most disturbing aspect of this failed covenantal law divine God that he uses man as a scapegoat for his erroneous covenant and failed law…. What is the point of a perfect law if at any point it can made imperfect, inadequate or invalid by mortal man. Is it still perfect then? If no perfect law is useful, cause of an imperfect mortal, what’s the point of the law? What purpose does it serve? Why not scrap the whole thing all together?
God’s Perfect Plan, another facet of this perfect deity would be the expectation that he would have this perfect plan.
To call oneself a Christian is to also to believe in God’s divine perfect plan, but if we were to really think about this plan. We would notice several flaws. How could we put our faith in not only a flawed plan, but a plan at times that does not make common sense?
God the Perfect Judge, Is God the perfect Judge? In asking that question its only reasonable to assume that perfect Judge would have these following attributes:
- Fair- Free from partiality, dishonesty, favoritism, prejudice and biases.
- Just- Conforming with what is true, fair, fact, and reasonable. In keeping with what equitable and moral. Acting or being in conformity with what is morally upright or good.
- Merciful- Full of mercy and compassion. Lenient or compassionate treatment
- Benevolent- Good-willed, kindly, unselfish, disposed to acts of goodwill and loving kindness.
“Dan Barker (former preacher turned atheist) often points out that a perfectly just and perfectly merciful God cannot exist, because any extension of mercy necessitates a suspension of justice.” -(500 Questions about God & Christianity)
However in examining the Bible we find a Judge that has a tendency to be merciful to the worst of crimes, and unimpassioned to the least of crimes. And in examining God’s action in the bible we find several cases of God playing scapegoat and judging the wrong person. I can help but conclude that God is a corrupt Judge, in that he hates continually punishes the innocent and uninvolved.
- In the book of 2 Samuel 21:1-10, David is supervised by God to send his own family members to be slaughtered for the Sins of another man.
- In 1 Chronicles 21:9-14 God punishes a whole kingdom for the sins of one man.
- In the Book of Exodus Chapters 11 & 12 is probably the most famous story of God killing an uninvolved innocent victim but leaving the true perpetrator unharmed.
So yet how could we call God the Perfect Judge if he fails in all the major characteristic of a good judge and repeatedly punishes not just the wrong, but also the innocent for crimes they never committed.
God’s Perfect Love,When describing God, one common answer I receive is that God is love and his love is perfect and unconditional. This is probably the most common answer that liberal Christianity will provide. Yet when reading through the bible and the gospel message does not sound like a perfectly loving message. It sounds like a twisted love story, which fails in the realms of salvation. It becomes difficult to imagine an all loving God, who can’t even forgive the pettiest of sins like picking up sticks on the sabbath. Even my wife would forgive me for something like that and she is far from all loving and perfect.
Yet we are expected to believe that this God loves us unconditional, but punishes us with eternal hell-fire for finite sins. And that he died for a problem he created; this does not sound like the most loving message. It actually sounds a little disturbing.
Perfect Creator, So in dealing with Creationism and Intelligent Design, I couldn’t help but notice that if God is perfect shouldn’t he be called the Perfect Designer or Perfect Creator Yet in creationism God is readily referred to as the Intelligent Designer. I think one of the fundamental problems with creationism is the idea of intelligent design and having an intelligent designer is that it is actually in conflict with the biblical and conceptual nature of God. In that the attribute of God is that he is not just intelligent, but absolute perfection. God is perfect, so to simply call him intelligent is somewhat insulting and degrading. However the problem with this is that we don’t see observable evidence for a perfect designer; in fact we barely see evidence for an intelligent designer.
I think for me when I think of a perfect God, who is the creator and cause of all things, I think of a perfect world, a perfect universe, peace, joy, happiness, no illogical suffering and no gaps in questioning his existence. But here is the thing, I don’t see those things so why should I still believe that this God is perfect?
Yet in an examining the essence of a perfect creator, one can only reflect back to this syllogism that gives an Argument against the Perfection of God.
- God is perfect. (premise)
- God deliberately created the universe. (premise)
- The universe, or at least aspects of it, is not perfect. (premise)
- Nothing deliberately created by a perfect being can be imperfect. (premise)
- Conclusion: this universe was not created by a perfect being.
Philosophical (Ontological perfect God), In dealing with the idea of a Perfect God one philosophical concept that keeps re-surfacing is that the notion of a Perfect deity lacks ontological substance to be pratical. In that the idea of a Perfect God is solely conceptual and metaphysical which has always been a folly of abstract philosophical reasoning.
When I break down this conceptual framework of a perfect God, I can only reasonably conclude that whole concept a perfect Judeo-Christian God is completely and utterly illogical. In that the the whole concept of the biblical Judeo-Christian God is irrational. To call God perfect, and reflect back onto to reality leaves even the most simple-minded person scratching their head. The reason is because no one denies that the world is flawed and erred. Yet, the disconnect is the metaphysical reality between an all perfect being and the product of his creation. Therefore; Why should I believe that this perfect being or god exist? What reason would I have in supporting not just his existence, if he exist; Is he perfect? No rational or reasonable person could infer that this ontological being exist and is perfect, but is the maker of such a flawed plan and world.
The Apologist Answer and Response
The only way around the philosophical attribute of a Perfect God with the reality of our world is to change the definition of Perfection as it pertains to God. And that is what J.P. Moreland has done in re-defining a Perfect God. Using another definition of perfection that has been used by some Christian apologist is that in calling God perfect we are more affirming in belief that God is complete and whole. Not in the sense that he has no error or regret. But that he needs nothing, and needs no improvement.
The problem with this argument is that the bible has its own standard and definition for perfect. And the philosophical definition of perfect, contradicts with the biblical definition of perfect.
Own Biblical Standard of Perfect, The bible says we should judge a tree by the fruit that it bears, so does a perfect God bear good fruit. Is the God of the Bible Perfect? Is the Biblical God perfect by his own biblical and scriptural standards? First, we must start with defining what perfect means as according to the bible.
To say God is Perfect, is to say he is without flaw, without error, without mistake. This is my definition of perfect. However this post topic is NOT going to be based upon MY definition of perfect, but the biblical standard and definition of Perfect; and the bible does have its own standard of perfect and non-perfect.
A Biblical Definition of Perfect:
“We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is PERFECT,….” -(James 3:2)
A Biblical Definition of Non-Perfect:
“A double minded man unstable[unperfect] in all his ways”- (James 1:8)
To say God is not perfect by the definition of not perfect, one would have to indeed persuade that the God of the bible is unstable and can be found with fault. It doesn’t take much to prove that, all one has to do is just look into the bible in Exodus 21:14-”The Lord changed his mind(repented) and did not bring on his people the disaster he threatened.” How can all perfect God change his mind?
“Either God is imperfect, God does not exist, or God did not create the physical world. Such is the conclusion to which we are driven by one of the most compelling atheist arguments….It forces us to admit that if God exists, either he did not create the world, or he did so imperfectly. Yet a God who is imperfect or not the Creator is not really God at all, and hardly worth worshiping.” -(The Argument from Perfection by Dwight)