1.1A Good and Evil, and Art
By Jonathan Martinovici
Copyright © Jonathan Martinovici 2018
At the end of the last session, I produced the following table listing how God’s word speaks about Good:
|Good is:||Therefore, Good Art will:|
|fundamentally, God’s character and nature||conform to God’s character and nature|
|what pleases God||please God|
|what is according to nature as God created it (and, in this way, according to God’s character)||accord with nature the way God made it (and, in this way, accord with God’s character)|
|what is according to God’s commandments||accord with God’s commandments|
There is one point I wish to clarify here about how God’s word speaks about Good, in order to avoid misunderstandings.
The items listed in the “Good is” column do not contradict each other. My meaning can be shown by the following statements:
- A thing cannot contradict one of these and fulfill the rest.
- A thing cannot fulfill one of these and contradict any one of them. (This should be understood in the light of the previous point.)
- God’s commands follow from and reflect His character.
- God’s commands follow from and reflect what pleases Him.
- One cannot break a commandment of God and expect God to be pleased with it.
- One cannot break a commandment of God and expect such a thing to be consistent with God’s character.
- A thing cannot break a commandment of God and at the same time be good.
- A thing cannot contradict God’s commandments and yet accord with God’s character or please Him. God’s commandments arise from His character.
Applications for art:
- Art cannot please God by or while breaking His commandments.
- Art cannot please God by or while contradicting His character.
- One can never please God by making art which breaks God’s commandments.
- Art which breaks God’s commandments contradicts the character of God.
- Art which pleases God will accord with His character.
At this point, however, it will be helpful to make a distinction between two kinds of Good: namely, natural good and moral good. (I was first persuaded of this distinction by the sermon by John Macarthur, at the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6LFzk1afiD8. My account of it below may differ from his. I have not attempted to replicate his account of it, and have not listened to the sermon for probably a year at the time I am now writing.)
- Natural good is the goodness that characterizes every creature of God as designed by Him. This can be referred to the whole universe at large, both physical and spiritual. When it is referred to the physical universe, it can more clearly be shown to exist when referred to the health of biological creatures, including plants, animals, human beings, etc. It is, perhaps, more clearly understood when contrasted with its contrary: Natural evil, which includes sickness and death.- These displease God.
- Moral good is the goodness that characterizes specifically beings which are capable of choice, and it is what characterizes acts of choice which are pleasing to God, and which therefore accord with God’s nature, are according to God’s commands, and accord with the nature of man given to him by God. The contrary of moral good is Moral evil. – This displeases God.