Plato’s Good

“It’s all good,” is not an urban invention.

It’s God’s evaluation of his own creation at the end of the first chapter of Genesis.

“And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good” (Genesis 1:31).

The other night I was able to enjoy a meal with a group of new friends, many of whom are Jewish. At the offset of the meal one gentlman offered these words as a toast, “Bereshit bara Elohim et hashamayim ve’et ha’arets.”

While my Hebrew is rustier than Mater from the Disney movie “Cars,” I did recognize the familiar verse, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” I am among a myriad of Gentiles who appreciate this truth. In fact, the Greek philosopher Plato made a similiar assertion, as quoted here:

“God,” he says, in his ‘Republic’ (716 A), “is (literally, holds) the beginning, middle, and end of all things. He is the supreme mind or reason, the efficient cause of all things, eternal, unchangeable, all-knowing, all-powerful, all-pervading, and all-controlling, just, holy, wise, and good, the absolutely perfect, the beginning of all truth, the fountain of all law and justice, the source of all order and beauty, and especially the cause of all good ”

David, King of Israel, treasured the truth of God’s goodness as well. I’m often remdinded of his words, “But as for me, the nearness of God is my good” (Psalm 73:28). To draw near to God implies that we are naturally far from Him. Tragically, we know this all too well. Our hearts are “prone to wander.” The further we wander the less of good we will know in our lives.

Apart from God all we see are the pale reflections of the goodness that can only be fully known in him. As one preacher aptly said, “You can listen and learn or you can live and learn.” All too often I’ve done the latter, instead of heeding the simple advice of the Psalmist to, “taste and see that the LORD is good.”

Experience is a cruel teacher, and our experiences in time will prove Plato’s point: God is the source of all beauty and the cause of all good. Seek to find goodness in the creation, apart from the Creator, and you will only find the scent of the rose, or the echo of the tune, or news from a country you have never visited (to paraphrase C.S. Lewis). As you draw near to God you will find that it is, to you, your good. You will be, like Lewis, surprised by joy.

“God is the summum bonum, the chief good. There’s enough in God to satisfy the immense desire of the angels. He is omnimode dulcis, the quintessence of sweetness. In him perfections are centered, wisdom, holiness, goodness: he has rivers of pleasure where the soul shall bathe itself forever with infinite delight. So that here is ground sufficient for our drawing near to God; he is the chief good. — Everything desires to approach to its happiness.” – Thomas Watson