The Goodness of God and his Children as a Fundamental Theological Concept in the Book of Mormon

Noel B. Reynolds, Brigham Young University - Provo

Abstract

The phrase goodness of God does occur occasionally in the Hebrew Bible, but has not been considered by Old Testament scholars. to be a key piece of Israelite theology. Rather, it has been interpreted as just another way of talking about God’s acts of hesed or loving kindness for his covenant people and is usually interpreted in the context of the covenants Israel received through Abraham and Moses. The Book of Mormon, on the other hand, presents an explicit divine plan that existed before Abraham—even before the creation of the earth—which had as its purpose making eternal life possible for God’s human children universally—not just the descendants of Abraham. The goodness of God is frequently invoked by the Nephite prophets as a basic theological concept which can explain why God advanced his plan of salvation for men, including the covenants. They also used the phrase in the Old Testament pattern to explain the acts of God in delivering, blessing, and preserving his covenant people. This paper will demonstrate the strong and recurring reliance of Nephite prophets on this theological concept while simultaneously showing its application to both the covenantal context of the Abrahamic covenant and the pre-covenantal context of the plan of salvation.