Is God only Good if I am Bad?

Who does Christianity say that humans are? Or to make it more personal: should I love myself or should I hate myself? Am I glorious or wretched? When I listen to current Christian culture, I get mixed signals. No wonder Christian counseling is on the rise – I need a professional to help me sort out how I should feel about myself.

Perhaps I will address the biblical origins of this religious schizophrenia another time (or more of its implications for real life since there are many), but for now, I only want to show the seeming inconsistency of one typical argument. That is, it seems that the “depraved” view of myself is most often espoused as a way to make God look good. There is a common view in Christianity that to look up to God I must look down on myself. That is to say, that to say that God is good is to say that I am wretched. But that seems illogical.

How great is God if the only way to make him look great is to degrade humanity? Wouldn’t it make God look even better if he was greater than that which is good rather than greater than that which is depraved? Yeah, of course he’s great, if humanity is just a bunch of garbage. That’s not saying much. So, it seems that in an effort to make God look good, people who degrade humanity to do so, actually make God pretty average. It’s like saying the only way to make Michael Jordan look great is to compare him to my days as a high school point guard. Perhaps that is how to make Scottie Pippen look great (zing) but Jordan stands on his own – I can compare him freely. My God is no Scottie Pippen.

2 responses to “Is God only Good if I am Bad?

  1. As an ethics professor I imagine you could appreciate the difficult in even defining what “good” and “bad” mean, and the resulting circularity it can bring into these sorts of discussions.

    If “good” just means “better than me” in the first place, then saying that God is only good if I am bad is a tautology.

  2. Pingback: How Christianity Taught Me to Love/Hate Myself | Jared Byas

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