St. Anselm postulated that the greatest being is God. Dr. William Lane Craig often references God as the “maximal being”. If we can envision something greater than God, then the something greater has to be God, because God is the greatest being. God is by definition the greatest, the maximal being.
That is why every single sin committed must be punished. Why? Because God is perfectly just. A perfectly just being punished every crime. If we imagine a god who published some crimes and not others, that would not be the most just being. He might be merciful and nice, but he would not be the most just. We could imagine someone more just – a being who punishes every crime.
We could also conceive of someone who is merciful, who can forgive everything that could possibly be done, from the smallest offenses to the greatest. If we conceive of a judge who forgives some things, but not all things, that would not be God. God would have to be absolutely merciful and forgiving.
God would have to be absolutely just and absolutely merciful at the same time. Any being who is not the most just and/or the most merciful is not God.
God must also absolutely love. If love is a good thing, then God would have to be the most living being. If self-sacrifice is a good thing, God would have to be the most sacrificial. If humility is good, God would have to be the most humble. If we can conceive of a greater being, a being having greater attributes than our conception of God, then our conception of God is not accurate.
God revealed by Jesus is the most loving being. He is most forgiving of sins, not by overlooking sins. He would not be perfectly just if He overlooked sins. But He forgives because He paid the penalty Himself!
God loved us from eternity past and forward throughout all eternity. He created us in His image because, as a triune God, he allowed love to dwell within Him as part of His very nature. Love is in the essence of who God is.
None of us can make our way into heaven by ourselves – into the very dwelling place of God – because heaven is a perfect place. Where God is dwells perfection, and none of us are perfect. We could not enter in unless God also made us perfect. He did that by dying in our place, taking upon Himself the penalty that justice demands, and forgiving us.
Thereby, God has made a way for us to enter into the perfection that is the essence of God. Paul explains it this way:
“What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. And what you sow is not the body that is to be, but a bare kernel, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain. But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body. For not all flesh is the same, but there is one kind for humans, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish. There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is of one kind, and the glory of the earthly is of another…. So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual. The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven. I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.” (1 Corinthians 15:36-40, 42-53)
2 thoughts on “The Greatest Being is God”
And I think Aquinas said there is no such thing as being apart from God. God is the only true being 🙂 You have to love the Patristics.