The Danger of Goodness

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I found a fascinating quote by C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity, in which he describes God as “the only comfort” but also “the supreme terror.” God is the “thing we most need and the thing we most want to hide from.” He continues, “Some people talk as if meeting the gaze of absolute goodness would be fun. They need to think again. … Goodness is either the great safety or the great danger—according to the way you react to it.”

I think most people these days like to think that ultimate love and ultimate goodness means absolute safety for anyone and everyone. No one should be afraid of something so good and so loving, right? No one should fear meeting such a creature, such a person, right? This is a Rogerian myth—the ultimate goodness is not a being of unconditional positive regard, but a being who has become good by also being the ultimate discerner. And that discerning gaze will make those who do evil very uncomfortable, if not downright terrified. Because the ultimate good pierces through self-justifications, rationalizations, and excuses, and exposes wrong for what it is.

In other words, God is dangerous to those who refuse Him—and those who refuse Him will wish to hide when they meet Him.

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