What alignment is God?

Preface::

First, please don’t get turned off because I’m referencing some Dungeons & Dragons stuff at first. It’s not much, and you’ll be past it eventually.

Second, this post has been a long time coming. The matter has been on my mind for weeks if not months, and I’m still not settled on the matter. It’s a bit of a mind dump.

Third, because of that, I’d really like your consideration and input. Comment below and let me know what you’re thinking, even if you just agree or disagree. This is one of the theological subjects I’m really wrestling with and curious about right now.

Moving on::

For those of you who haven’t played D&D before, or maybe have only played the latest edition (the 4th), you may be unfamiliar with alignments. In general, there are two axes, as seen below.

The 3.5 edition of the Dungeons & Dragons Player’s Handbook lists nine alignments as options for a player character, because in addition to the four labels you see above, there is also Neutral. Someone might be Lawful Good or Chaotic Good, but they could also be Neutral Good, or Chaotic Neutral.

With that established, let’s talk a bit about God, Christianity, and myself. For my part, I have finally reached the conclusion that I am Lawful Neutral. This is kind of a Big Deal for me, mostly because it’s not what I expected. When I was younger, I liked to think of myself as Chaotic Good: I didn’t always follow the “rules,” and I didn’t always listen to “the man,” but I generally strove to do good things and help people. Robin Hood is Chaotic Good, as is Captain Malcolm Reynolds from Firefly.

When I was a kid, my heroes were the knights in shining armor from the fantasy stories I read, but I bucked authority a lot of the time. I didn’t care much about school or grades, or what my parents thought or wanted me to do. I tried to do good, but I did it my own way. Now, though, my outlook seems different. I don’t know if it is that I have changed, or if I was always this way but just idealized “Good” and strove for that… but it’s not me. I’m not Robin Hood. I’m not even Mal.

Lawful Neutral is generally referred to as the “Judge.” Wikipedia has a good definition of Lawful Neutral:

Characters of this alignment are neutral with regard to good and evil. This does not mean that Lawful Neutral characters are amoral or immoral, or do not have a moral compass; but simply that their moral considerations come a distant second to what their code, tradition or law dictates. They typically have a strong ethical code, but it is primarily guided by their system of belief, not by a commitment to good or evil.

In regards to D&D, you generally see Lawful Neutral characters on the side of Good, because Evil has a tendency to go against the law. The important point is motivation: where a Good aligned person would uphold Good for its own sake, a Lawful aligned person upholds it because it is the law. If a law is unjust or not “good,” someone who is Chaotic Good may choose to not uphold that law and will make their own code–a course of action that would be practically anathema to a Lawful Neutral person.

My work has forced me to the analyses of my own alignment and motivations because we do have some policies and ways of doing business that I don’t particularly like or agree with. Because it’s my job, though, I have to follow through regardless of my personal feelings… but I have found, over the last couple of years, that my personal feelings strongly uphold the following of these rules for the mere fact that they are the rules. I’m an INTJ, so inefficiency and poor work angers me, and within the bounds of the system I will do everything I can do improve matters, but as a Lawful Neutral, I have found that I won’t break the rules ((As the above linked definition of INTJ states, I will sometimes “implement critical decisions without consulting my [sic] supervisors or co-workers” and I have little respect for anyone I perceive to be slacking, even if they are higher ranked than me. But I don’t break any rules, which is the key.)) to do it. Not anymore, anyways.

So my first question becomes, “How does being Lawful Neutral square with being Christian?” Jonny and I were on our way to a conference a few weeks ago and the topic of alignments came up–we were discussing why certain things in our jobs have gone as they have, and I replied that I do what I do, how I do it, because I’m Lawful Neutral. He was surprised; a Christian should by default be Good, he said.

This really set me to thinking: if God is Good, then should all Christians be Good? The more I thought about the classical, humanistic definition of Good, though, the less God seemed to fit into the assumed alignment.

From Wikipedia:

Lawful Good is known as the “Saintly” or “Crusader” alignment. A Lawful Good character typically acts with compassion, and always with honor and a sense of duty. A Lawful Good nation would consist of a well-organized government that works for the benefit of its citizens. Lawful Good characters include righteous knights, paladins, and most dwarves. …

Lawful Good characters, especially paladins, may sometimes find themselves faced with the dilemma of whether to obey law or good when the two conflict – for example, upholding a sworn oath when it would lead innocents to come to harm – or conflicts between two orders, such as between their religious law and the law of the local ruler.

If God is Lawful Good, then, how do we account for the suffering we see in the world? For centuries philosophers and theologians have attempted to address the problem of pain in the world: why do bad things happen to good people; why do children die; why do natural disasters wipe out civilizations; do those who have never even heard of Jesus to go hell, etc. If God is all powerful and all Good, would He not then save these people? Why would He not wipe out all disease, death, and pain?

In short, the answer is generally, “Adam and Eve sinned and now we live in a fallen world.” When asked why God doesn’t just fix it, the answer is generally that God is either waiting for more people to be reconciled to Him through Christ, or that some other plan is at work. We, as Christians, work very hard to reconcile the existence of evil in the world with God’s goodness.

Before I was Christian, I believed strongly in the “rules” of this world. I believed that angels and demons, while powerful, were only able to interact with this world and shape its events within certain restrictions, and that the deities were likewise limited, not due to a lack of power but due to some cosmic agreement. At the time, I considered it a dualistic issue: the gods of Good and the gods of Evil had made an armistice to prevent the destruction of the world over which they fought. Skirmishes occurred, but outright war was avoided.

I no longer hold that dualistic view, but the more I think about the world and God’s interaction with it, the more I come back to the idea of there being some sort of cosmic rule at work, or a self-limitation by God. Jesus is a good example of this: we uphold that he was entirely human and entirely God, yet there seemed to be times when he didn’t know exactly what would happen next, and he went so far as to ask that the suffering to come be put away from him. In taking on mortal flesh, limitations were put in place, and since I do affirm that God is all powerful, I can only conclude that these limitations were self-imposed to provide a better teaching example to Christians. ((Or for some other reason–the conclusion stands regardless.))

What if God was closer to Lawful Neutral than Lawful Good? Our concept of Lawful Good is someone who protects the innocent without hesitation, works and fights always on the side of Good, does whatever he or she can to protect and benefit others. I don’t propose the Deistic concept of a clockmaker God, who set the world into motion and then stepped back to watch silently, but I do perceive restraint that contradicts what we think Lawful Good should be. Could a Lawful Good deity who was all powerful watch as Haiti was torn apart and innocent children died in the streets? Could a Lawful Good deity sanction the genocide in Darfur or the ongoing civil wars in Sri Lanka and the Congo? We wonder at the horrors inflicted upon the Hebrews in the Hebrew Bible, and it is hard to reconcile them with our concept of a Lawful Good God, but they make more sense if we consider God to be Lawful Neutral, a God who has made certain laws that must be upheld.

By this, I do not mean that God is not generally good, but I do question our concept and the assumptions we make about God’s goodness. If you ask me, “Is God compassionate?” I will reply, “Yes, yes, God is compassionate.” And if you ask if God is forgiving, I will say, “Yes, yes, God is forgiving.” He is kind and loving and awesome. But if you ask, “Is God good?” I will wonder at your definition of “good.” If by good you mean that God is our servant and sworn benefactor, I say no, God is not these things.

We assume that actions follow nature, and so if God is compassionate, He must act upon that compassion. Likewise, too many look upon suffering and conclude that God must therefore not be compassionate, and since the Bible teaches of God’s compassion, many take it a step further and conclude that there is no God. These conclusions do not follow; God can be compassionate without always acting upon that compassion.

Let us consider Jesus who, as I referred to earlier, displayed adherence to the rules (if such do exist) throughout the gospels. There are numerous stories of Jesus healing someone, but he heals relatively few of the people around him. In one such story, Jesus actually delves into a great crowd of the ill and infirm, and finding a particular man at the center, asks him if he wants to be healed. ((John 5:1-18)) The man states that he has been seeking healing but has been unable to find it, and Jesus heals him.

Why does he heal no one else in all that crowd? Why pick that one man out? Some have wondered whether the issue is that Jesus’s power is limited, using Luke 8:40-48 as indication that he not only had limited power but the use of that power depleted his reserves. What if, instead, Jesus was limited by a set of self-imposed rules, a guiding plan, and was loathe to deviate from that course? The man at the well was healed for some purpose, and we can only conclude that an all powerful God would not heal those He didn’t want to heal, so Jesus must likewise have had some reason to heal the woman who touched his cloak (though he seems surprised when the event occurs).

Perhaps Jesus only healed those who would have the greatest impact on his mission–it certainly makes sense in a Lawful Neutral way. I wonder as well about the mystery of faith. In Luke 8, Jesus states that the woman’s faith has healed her, and it seems to me like that gives us a clue in itself. No one healed by Jesus is recorded as temporizing or rationalizing away the miracle, but I have seen miracles occur to people who have done just this. I believe that, in the stories recorded in the gospels, those healed had the faith to believe, and subsequently they kept that belief. I might conclude, then, that faith is one of the components necessary for a miracle. ((As Jesus himself seemed to state in Matthew 17:20.))

We have read that the door to heaven is narrow and few will enter, ((Luke 13:22-27)) but we all believe we will be part of that few. Just as I questioned our definition of “good” above, I question as well our concept of “faith.” How many Christians in the Church are there because they want something, rather than because of their faith? What they want might be all good things: to serve others, to join a community of like-minded individuals, to find belonging or love, to find peace or healing, etc. But how many are involved in the community of Christians purely because they believe in Jesus and the truth of the Bible? All those good things follow faith, but I wonder for how many faith is the primary motivator and factor.

It would be Lawful Good for God to let everyone into heaven. He indicates in Luke 13 that this is not the case. One could argue, though, that the “Lawful” balances the “Good,” and that God is indeed Lawful Good in this respect: God wants everyone to enter heaven (Good), but must turn away sinners (Lawful).

Back to the earlier question, rephrased, I ask, “If we consider God to be Lawful, then who’s law?” The previous paragraph feels more like temporizing to me. ((To be honest, I’ve reached the same conclusion in regards to Calvinism as a whole.)) I feel like we’re attempting to cram God into the Lawful Good alignment because we want to believe that God has our individual best interests at heart and will always take care of us. In looking at the world and at the Bible, particularly in light of the verses above (as well as countless others I’m not relating here because I don’t feel like taking the time to look them up right now), that conclusion just doesn’t seem to fit. It seems more like God has created a world and an order and we have deviated from it. It is now our job to get back in line, and God has aided us in that by providing the sacrifice of Jesus. We still have to accept that sacrifice ((A la Arminianism)) and follow God faithfully to get back within the boundaries accorded by the cosmic rules.

I’ve got another branch of thoughts on this topic brought up by the book I’m reading, but I’ll end the mind dump here because those veer off into spiritual warfare territory. If you’ve made it this far, thanks for sticking with it, and please comment to share what you’re thinking. I’d really like to read it.

11 thoughts on “What alignment is God?

  1. Some of my first reactions:

    1) God’s ultimate goal is NOT getting people to heaven. God’s ultimate goal is making humans like Jesus and subsequently like himself.

    2) Part of the reason pain exists in our world is resurrection. When we ask “Why doesn’t God do something about our pain?” The answer is, he has, it’s just not finished yet. Resurrection is not the great prize that makes pain better, but rather, the unmaking of pain or death. Our pain is not soothed, but undone.

    3) “It’s nice to be nice to the nice” meaning love can be shallow. To love your enemies is a true love but how would you have enemies if you could never be hurt? If we are to be like God and to love like God, it is not entirely a bad thing to experience pain and to continue to love through it.

    4) God is certainly not neutral because, as Jesus claims, only God is good.

  2. Well, to be fair, DnD’s alignment system doesn’t have the best definition of ‘good’. Generally, DnD equates Good with altruism. It doesn’t explore the notion of Good as worthiness. That’s part of why DnD’s use of the word ‘holy’ lacks much meaning. ‘Holy’ seems to mean “deals 2d6 damage to evil outsiders and undead.” In Scripture, Holy seems to refer to being set apart, typically for God’s purpose.
    To borrow from Christian Platonists, God is Good in the sense that God = Good. We call other things good for the ways in which they are like God. We do not call God good because He is like something else.

  3. First, to Johnny, you seem to be relying upon the Divine Command Theory to hold up your view of God and “goodness”. To cut any ranting and raving and reduce potential ad hominens, i’ll just explain the argument in a straight forward way to show the fallacy involved in this reasoning. It goes as follows:

    God is good
    What is good is good because God says it is
    God says good things are good because he is good
    What is good is what God says is good

    See where this is going?

    This is very similar to saying the bible is true, the bible is true because God says it is true, this is true because the bible says so.

    Both arguments are circular, the conclusion assuming the premises and the premises assuming the conclusion. In short, it’s simply an assumption, and these arguments for these assumptions do not work.

    This is not to say that God is not good or that the Bible is false, I will say more on those matters later. This is just pointing out that your moral theory is inadequate. I could add more, however I feel these criticisms would be lost.

    Also, you most definitely miss the point of Holiness in D&D. I end now before a string of ad hominens taints my response. Generic PC.

    Second, I would like to address Adam.

    Your first answer can be brought into question. It may be an interpretation issue, however I feel that God doesn’t wish for us to be like him in the sense that you may think. From my understanding, God created man to worship and praise him. In short, to be subservient. This is why we as sinners must praise and plead to him.

    Your second answer brings up another question, many actually, but i’ll leave it at this one. Why is there so much of a disproportionate amount of pain? Some true believers are rarely burdened, some are given more than they can bear. This is true of non-believers also.

    Your third response leaves the question of why so much pain exists rather than a little. Both these responses also seem to leave out things like natural disaster also.

    I’ll leave this fourth response alone. For various reasons.

    Now, on to the Bible. Many people do not fully understand that the Old Testament is part of the Jewish faith. The Judeo-Christian mind set is readily accepted in Western culture, whether people realize this or not. Few exceptions exist with individuals. Even devout Atheists will subscribe to Judeo-Christian anthropomorphism without much thought. But I digress. The point of this is to merely point out that the New Testament and Old Testament are not entirely consistent. The authors had different world views, different religious views, different views of the government, etc and this will show with careful reading. There are some transient qualities between the two, however if they were not part of the accepted Holy Bible, few people would see significant parallels showing how they could be the same religion. The fact is, the only thing holding them together ultimately is a monotheistic anthropomorphic ideology.

    Again, not to say that the Bible is wrong, just pointing out inconsistencies that need to be addressed for compatibility.

    As for God’s alignment, combining the Old and New Testament variations of God’s personality, without mentioning anything that would require citations(yes, I understand that I should specific differences between the Old and New Testaments in that last paragraph, but the fact is I don’t have my Bible here and am too lazy to look it up without reverting to that God-Awful wikipedia) I can only say that God does and promotes some very morally questionable things, and may ask a bit much to pass as a Lawful Good deity, in addition the punishments he dishes out seem infinitely harsh. Since the possibility of an All Good, All Powerful, All Knowing being is inconsistent with reality(just think about it for a while, eventually you’ll see the contradictions, and there are many) it would seem this is also a blow against the general concept of God that passes as normal do to intellectual credulity. All in all, I would say God is an incredibly moody and strict Lawful Neutral type.

    The end 😀

    1. Actually, the Divine Command theory is NOT a fallacy, despite what your professors have told you. It’s a very logical conclusion if God does exist. Philosophers oppose it simply because it closes the door to any further debate. If modern philosophy classes didn’t advocate divine command as a logical fallacy, then there would simply be people who used the argument over and over again in class. That is to say, there would be no further development of logical thinking or conclusions. The results of making the divine command theory a valid argument form would be disasterous, I agree. However, as I said, it is a very logical conclusion if God exists. After all, if God is the creator of all things, then he is indeed the creator of values, as they are a part of things. Or, if you’d like it in argument form:

      God is the creator of all things.
      Goodness is part of all things.
      Therefore God created Goodness.

      It’s an exceptionally simple and undeniable argument. I don’t deny the moral instability of a person who prescribes to this theory(all the while believing God is giving them commands), I simply must acknowledge that if God exists, then morality shall be whatever God deems it to be.

      As for God’s morality, I’d say old Testament God is Lawful neutral. His punishments are too harsh for him to be lawful good, but he provides and aids the Israelites too much for him to be lawful evil…though he’s certainly closer to evil than good.

      In the new Testament, I’d say he might be a bit closer to good

      1. As for God’s morality, I’d say old Testament God is Lawful neutral. His punishments are too harsh for him to be lawful good, but he provides and aids the Israelites too much for him to be lawful evil…though he’s certainly closer to evil than good.

        In the new Testament, I’d say he might be a bit closer to good

        My wife said the same thing a couple of days ago, but this doesn’t really follow. Is the God of the Hebrew Bible different from the God of the New Testament? Many Christians would maintain that He is not; that God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow; that God is the beginning and the end; that God is unchanging.

        I touched on this in the most recent post on this topic (I’ve really got to go back and turn these into a series to make it easier for people to follow and read), in that I do believe that the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament represent the same God, just from different perspectives.

  4. I think a lot of times we take events in the Old Testament out of context and from that get a picture of a harsh and cruel God.

    The Old Testament shows God to be very lenient and forgiving. In Genesis 3, Eve says that God’s punishment for eating from the tree is death. And yet, at the end of the chapter, God doesn’t kill them. There is a reprimand and a curse, to say there are consequences, but it’s not over. There’s another chance. In Genesis 4, with Cain, a terrible crime is committed worthy of death and God’s response “15 But the LORD said to him, “Not so; if anyone kills Cain, he will suffer vengeance seven times over.” Then the LORD put a mark on Cain so that no one who found him would kill him.” (NIV) We see the same with Abraham and Lot, and again, and again, and again with Israel.

    But what about the times God actually steps in? I think we carry the idea of a cruel God with the same idea of a petty God. A God who punishes personal affronts with death. Instead the Old Testament portrays a God who punishes oppressors. Harsh punishment is used on people who are being harsh themselves. The first chapter of Isaiah demonstrates,

    “15 When you spread out your hands in prayer,
    I will hide my eyes from you;
    even if you offer many prayers,
    I will not listen.
    Your hands are full of blood;

    16 wash and make yourselves clean.
    Take your evil deeds
    out of my sight!
    Stop doing wrong,

    17 learn to do right!
    Seek justice,
    encourage the oppressed.
    Defend the cause of the fatherless,
    plead the case of the widow. ”

    God is not judging Israel because they didn’t offer the right sacrifice on Sabbath. In fact, they probably did offer the perfect sacrifice, but God saw it as meaningless because their other actions were hurting other people. So God, judges them. Not to prove who’s better or more holy, but on behalf of the oppressed, fatherless, and widowed.

    And when we reach the New Testament, this is EXACTLY the message Jesus has for Israel. God is coming for the oppressed, fatherless, and widowed; the sick, hurt and broken. And He’s doing it Himself.

  5. I would tend to agree with your conclusions (after taking a similar route of thought myself over the years…Neutral Good, to Lawful Good, to Lawful Neutral).

    God creates an orderly world where our actions have consequences and where no amount of whing to God in prayer will change that (do we really expect God to discard justice because we whine at him? If we really repent, we change our ways and THAT then gives us different consequences in the world God made).

    Not that DnD’s alignment is the best system to measure by (as others have said, it focuses on a kind of cosmopolitan liberal universal altruism as “Good” whilst putting loyalty to family, kin and neighbour as Neutral) and we tend to idolise its notion of “good” more because the pretty angels and nice outer planes are associated with it…..when in reality, as you say, holiness is more LN than LG.

  6. Well, I read everything you wrote, but for me it stills quite obvious that God is Lawful Good. I really don’t know where to start. I want to write many things here , but for me it would be hard since I’m not a native english speaker and my english is not the best. I just wanted to share my humble opinion here. As Jesus said…. only God is good. For me if you are a christian and believe that the bible is the word of God and that the bible is the true than this is enough to prove that God is good. If you don’t see the bible as the true, than your christianity doesn’t make any sense ( I’m not saying that this is the case).

    1. Thanks for writing Felipe! As time passes (this was written almost 5 years ago, hard as that is for me to believe!), my faith deepens and becomes stronger, and I find that I’m becoming more conservative or orthodox on a number of issues. I haven’t taken the time to read back over this post and reflect on this topic specifically, but I wouldn’t be surprised if my view has shifted some, if not completely.

      God is good all the time, and all the time, God is good. I think what it really comes down to is that God is so much more good than I am that it is difficult to comprehend.

  7. This is a great article, but I have to disagree. Defining “good” is the critical issue here, because the whole point of alignment is to arbitrarily define what is “good.” D&D tries, sometimes with horrible results, to define “good” as an arbitrary standard, because by its own design, it cannot favor any single deity or group of deities, nor can it even favor the cultures that have brought those deities into our consciousness. 1st Edition D&D was probably the better alignment system, as it simply divided all creatures into “lawful” and “chaotic,” without any regard to “good” and evil.” The only problem with this is that Orcs were classified as “chaotic,” while elves, though quite fickle and impish, had to be classified as “lawful.” Players tended to identify themselves & the monsters they fought as “good and evil” anyway, and the bottom line is that nobody in their right mind–not even the Demon Queen of Spiders, considers herself to be “evil.” (See notes on Aquinas below.) The first thing that comes to mind is the old question that Socrates posed to Euthyphro on the way to his trial: “Is the pious loved by the gods because it is pious, or is it pious because it is loved by the gods?”

    D&D is in an awkward position compared to Judaism & Christianity here, because as some have already noted, according to the religions that acknowledge him, God by definition IS “good.” But a quick look at the wiki on this question reveals that Judaism holds that “God’s nature is the standard for value — predates the dilemma itself, appearing first in the thought of the eighth-century BC Hebrew prophets, Amos, Hosea, Micah and Isaiah.” Therefore, God (and more specifically God’s will) defines what is “good.” Proof of this is seen in the story of Job where, despite being a good and righteous man all his life, God sees fit to chastise Job for questioning why he has allowed all these bad things to happen to him. D&D struggles with the question posed by Matthew Stublefield herein regarding why God lets bad things happen to good people, but ultimately leaves the question unanswered. I think D&D lets animals off the hook by labeling them as “neutral” even though many animals kill for no apparent reason other than out of fear or to further their own survival (if a human did the same thing, we would call that, “evil.”) When we look at capitalists and call them “greedy,” that tends to be classified as “evil.” “Atlas Shrugged” is an anti-Christian screed, aimed largely at the idea that what most of us have been raised to believe is “evil” is actually the greatest “good.” For those familiar with the Artifacts & Relics in the back of the Dungeon Master’s Guide, I tend to call “Atlas Shrugged” the real-world “Book of Vile Deeds.”

    To this point, when examining the Euthyphro dilemma (again from the wiki,) ‘Aquinas frequently quoted with approval Aristotle’s definition, “Good is what all desire.” As he clarified, “When we say that good is what all desire, it is not to be understood that every kind of good thing is desired by all, but that whatever is desired has the nature of good.” In other words, even those who desire evil desire it “only under the aspect of good,” i.e., of what is desirable. “Evil, be thou my good,” says Milton’s Satan.’

    However, I think we can find a better understanding of God’s alignment if we abandon the assumption that the God of the Old Testament (OT) and the God of the New Testament (NT) are the same. Today, many condemn the “fire & brimstone” tactics of the OT God. Whereas Jesus is commonly referred to a as a God of “Love.” Again as the author has noted above, Jesus doesn’t always heal everyone. He doesn’t solve everybody’s problems, and he doesn’t even rescue the Jews from Roman occupation (as the messiah was prophesied to do.) This can be contrasted with God saving the entire nation of Israel from captivity in Egypt, Babylon, and so-forth. Jesus picked and chose what he would do, and everything he did was for the purpose of his own worship & glorification. There is still some debate in my own mind as to whether Jesus intended to cause people to stop worshipping the OT God, and to worship himself instead. (He often made references to “his father in heaven,”) but when you look at how he destroyed all the Jewish holidays, sabbaths, and customs, it is hard to see him as inspiring a religion that would be “lawful” to the Torah. Paul takes this one step farther than Jesus by asserting, “All things are lawful for me…” [1 Cor 10:23]

    Jesus, and later Paul, Peter & others also promote a worldview that is not exactly obedient to the religious law, but is ALWAYS submissive to secular law. (Matthew has noted some of this above.) Jesus says to obey HIS commandments, but he does not say to obey his Father’s commandments. Because of this dual lawfulness/chaoticness, it can be difficult to place Christianity as one thing or the other. But also as shown above, many of Jesus’ disciples were executed themselves for disobeying secular laws which commanded them to deny their faith. So, despite Romans 13’s clear admonition to “let every soul be subject unto the higher powers/governing authorities,” Christians have a long tradition of being “chaotic” whether it is toward the religious authorities or the secular authorities. People like MLK who’ve followed the disciples’ example in breaking laws to resist governmental power also suggest a very strong “chaotic” tendency. The only thing “lawful,” therefore, which I find about Christianity is people’s inherent (almost instinctual) desire to associate being holy (and being righteous) with obeying the law. Judaism, by contrast, is all about the Law (even if the intent of the Law, which was to bring men to what is “good” gets lost in the process.) The word “Torah” means “Law.” The great irony, of course, is that aside from the Orthodox, there are very few Jews today who are dedicated to keeping it, and because things like animal sacrifices are no longer en vogue, it is very unlikely that the whole Torah will ever be kept again. Jesus was constantly at odds with the Orthodox of his time (the Pharisees) because perhaps rightly, he perceived they were so focused on the “law” that they lost sight of the “good.” Interestingly, the greatest vitriol Jesus had was not for secularists or devil worshippers who were against God, but for his fellow Jews. He called the Pharisees “hypocrites,” and he called Peter “Satan.” The Zealots may have been about overthrowing the Roman authorities, but they were dedicated to restoring worship of the God of Israel–the Roman eagle placed on the Temple was an idol to them, much in the same way we see ISIS blowing up statues in the lands they come into. They are keeping their religious law over the secular law.

    One last thing I would like to note is that Jonny made a great point when he noted that “holy” in D&D implies something that gives you an attack or defense bonus against evil creatures, whereas “holy” in the Bible refers to being “set apart, typically for God’s purposes.” This is EXTREMELY important. We tend to call things holy (Holy Grail, Holy Bible, Holy symbol, etc.) without asking what makes them “holy.” It is assumed that if vampires really existed, they would be “turned” by a person of great faith displaying a cross, and they would be severely injured if splashed with holy water. But vampires don’t exist, and evil people walk into churches all the time without melting like the Wicked Witch of the West. So we have no real-world way of determining if anything is truly “holy.” That’s why Jonny’s definition–the Biblical definition–is the only one that applies. Likewise, when we try to determine if something is “good,” it is unwise to use an arbitrary standard like D&D’s to judge God, since it is God who creates that standard for what is “good.” Clearly God is “lawful” because he commands that his Torah be obeyed, and that his people love and fear him. But God is also “good” because not only are his judgements “true and righteous altogether,” [Ps 19:9] but because he ALSO displays all those characteristics that D&D would like to attribute to a “good” deity: compassion, love, forgiveness, loyalty, grace, and so-forth. If that is not enough, because you don’t think a “good” God should ever do anything you think is bad, ask yourself if a father spanks his child, would that make him, “evil?” If the child learns discipline, responsibility, and obedience as a result, I hope you would answer that the father was not only “good,” but also “doing what’s best for the child.” As for the question of “why would a [Lawful Good] God let bad things happen to good people?” The answer is, “free will.” In short, without evil in the world, man cannot choose good. But that’s another discussion for another day.

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