The Innocence of God
Innocence was all I knew / ‘Cause all I had to know was you —“Eden” by Phil Wickham
I find it strange to think of God as innocent. Innocence is a standing in court until proof of guilt is provided; I apply it to sleeping babies (even to crying babies), and my neighbor uses a garden cherub as its symbol. Somehow, the picture of star-breathing, sword-wielding, flaming-eyed almighty God does not fit my concept of innocence.
Adam and Eve at Creation are said to have been innocent, because they knew and practiced no wrong. Then they sinned. Their innocence was not the same as God’s.
In a sense, angels are innocent. But (to borrow from C.S. Lewis and N.D. Wilson), these are warriors, not plum, cookie-dough-smeared, smiling, apron-wearing greeting card angels about to say, “There, there, dearie.” God has excellent reason to command his servants not to fear the cherubim.
There are demons. If angels can fall, their innocence is not the same as God’s.
I find it telling that the words that started history were, “Let there be light.” The last spoken words in the Bible are also from the Light of the World Himself: “Surely I am coming soon.” God declares His intentions and works out every detail between the covers so that last page is the fulfillment.
In the fourth Fablehaven book by Brandon Mull (spoiler alert) abides a dragon who has breathed poison so long she has become poisonous to her core. Seth stabs her with a unicorn’s horn that functions as its nature always has—it cleanses the impure poison until Silena is no more, simply by dint of its own purity.
God’s innocence is a little bit like that. Purity is not naïveté; true innocence is incorruptible. (Perhaps righteousness is a better word; it carries no connotation of my sticky-faced, laughing three-year-old sister.) He is blindingly pure, blazingly, terrifyingly innocent. “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all,” 1 John tells us. Later: “The darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining.” It’s in our eyes, filling our days and leading our nights, but He’s promised He won’t stay in the sky forever. He will fly down like a star, and his innocence will burn away those who aren’t already on fire. Evil will scream.
The innocence of God is what makes the evil of us so ugly. But there’s even more contrast. His mercy is beautiful because His justice is perfect. Our healing is sweet because our judgment is earned.