I frequently run into the argument that God can do whatever he wants because he is God.
Partnered with this assertion is often an accusation that human “sensibilities” about what is right and wrong are not the same as God’s—that his ways are higher than our ways—as a defense for God behaving in ways that we would otherwise call sociopathic in humans.
Christians believe we know what we know about evil because of what is revealed about God in Jesus Christ *and* by what is inherent in humanity, owing to our being fashioned in the image of God. This image is broken in us but not eradicated or absent, even in the “worst” of us.
And above and far beyond this there is now in Jesus Christ a human life that embodies all that God intended for our race, and his brilliant life—not mankind’s broken collective aspirations about the good!—is now the foundation, the *human* measure of what is good and what is evil.
If Jesus would never do something, then by reason, revelation, and experience we know that God would never do that something. If Jesus would never do x, we should never do x.
We know torture is always wrong on a gut level due to the image of God in us, unless our conscience is seared.
We know torture is always wrong because BOTH the divinity and humanity of Jesus reveal it to be so.
Ditto with rape. Ditto with a lack of love for our enemies. Same with coveting what belongs to someone else. Same with worry about tomorrow. We know lives driven by fear and fallen hungers are wrong. And so on.
Human sensitivities that flow from the image of God in us are *baptized* sensibilities.
Jesus has taken humanity into the waters of the Jordan, identified with our brokenness, and now the lamp of his charity illumines the human path.
Jesus reveals a God that subjects himself to his own creation, which laws reflect and praise his relational, gracious, and magnificent character. The whole creation sings his humility and his light.
Christians are not projecting this God of mercy and charity and justice and compassion from an antinomian or “humanitarian” bias; we are instead seeking to bear God’s revealed image in Jesus when we live and have our being by the Sermon on the Mount.
God is not a parent who says “Don’t do as I do, do as I say.” The saying and the doing are inseparable in our holy God. This is what makes the triune God different from all human projections and idols.
On the mount, as Jesus is transfigured, as the Spirit descends, we hear the majestic voice of the Father and what he says is: “This is my Son. I am pleased with him. Heed his life!”
If God shows up at the end of history as Pol Pot on steroids, as General Sherman scorching the earth and everyone and everything in sight, then all of history is a tragedy and ISIS has it right and we are all fools to heed the life of Jesus.
Thank God that is not the case.