What does it mean that God is omnibenevolent?Question: "What does it mean that God is omnibenevolent?"
Answer: The word omnibenevolent comes from the Latin word omni, meaning “all,” and the word benevolent, meaning “good” or “charitable.” When we say that God is omnibenevolent, we are saying that God is absolutely good and that no action or motive or thought or feeling or anything else about Him is not purely good. He is “all-good.” The Bible provides many testimonies of God’s goodness, including Jesus’ own, when He asserted that no one is truly good except God Himself (Mark 10:18). This can only mean that, although human beings can do good things, only God is omnibenevolent, or wholly good.
To believe in a perfect being, one must accept that God can be omnibenevolent. If God is completely self-sustaining, independent of need, the “un-caused cause” and “un-moved mover,” He must also be perfectly good. If God were simply a good and powerful being, but not perfectly good, there would be an element of contingency. That is, we could conceive of a being of potentially greater benevolence—and someone with greater goodness would be greater than God. Since the goodness of anything is measured by its perfection, God must be perfectly good in order to also be omniscient and omnipotent. All three aspects of His person must be in place for us to conceive of any one of the three.
The most common objection to the assertion that God is omnibenevolent, as well as omnipotent and omniscient, is the problem of evil. If God is all-knowing and all-powerful and perfectly good, why does evil exist? Philosophers debate this question endlessly. Some solve the problem by saying that Lucifer’s and then, later, man’s free will was the cause of evil and that God was not involved in causing evil. One might then ask, “Why then did God create a being who could choose evil?” and the typical answer to that is “because He wanted beings who would be able to make choices”; i.e., He did not want robots.
Philosophically speaking, God’s omnibenevolence is a complicated issue. The problem of evil is a complex one. However, we do know that, for God to be God, He must be omnibenevolent, omnipotent, and omniscient. And, really, the issue comes down to believing the Bible, which presents God as always good (Psalm 106:1; 135:3; Nahum 1:7). His message to sinners, through Christ, is “good news” (Luke 2:10); His revelation of Christ is called the appearing of “the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior” (Titus 3:4, ESV). It is the goodness of God that leads us to repentance (Romans 2:4), goodness is one of the results of His indwelling Spirit (Galatians 5:22), and He brings goodness to fruition in our lives through faith (2 Thessalonians 1:11).
Recommended Resource: Knowing God by J.I. Packer
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