God: Parent or Policeman?
One of the ancient Greek wise guys was a man named Euthyphro, who, in the abstruse manner of philosophers, is said to have once asked, “Is good good because God says it is, or does God say it is because it is good?” This has since been referred to as Euthyphro’s question.
Consider the first hypothetical: Good is good because God says it is. Here, God is like the parent who, when his child asks why she ought to do something, gives the response, “Because I said so.” It is good for the child to obey her parent; what the parent says constitutes moral goodness for the child.
Then there is the latter suggestion, that God says something is good because it is good. Here, God is like the policeman who pulls over a speeding driver; the driver has not broken the rules by disobeying the policeman, but by disobeying the rules that the policeman is enforcing. The rules are something beyond the policeman; they are something that even he might be judged by.
Which one better represents the Christian God? Obviously, the Bible doesn’t describe God as an officer, but as the Judge, as the King. He doesn’t just insist we live by some rules of Goodness; He makes – His very nature sets – the standard of Goodness. He is the omnibenevolent Father whose statements are good simply because they originate from His mouth.
So the answer to Euthyphro’s question – is good good because God says it is, or does God say it is because it is good – is the former. God is a parent who has made good through what He says. We can find a great deal of that in His Word, the Bible.