In my previous post, I shared two misconceptions about God’s power: that it is “magical” and means controlling (or micromanaging). I now want to make a case for why God’s being all power can’t mean these things.
When we say “God”, we must mean something or else we are talking about nothing. By saying God is certain things, we are implicitly if not explicitly saying God is not other things. Specifically following from this, God has a certain nature and this nature is what God is like. God can’t be anything; there are certain ways God is and certain ways God is not.
I see no reason to believe that God’s core, fundamental nature changes. To say otherwise I think would be close to not believing in God at all. (Note: people’s beliefs and understanding about God need not be fixed; it is not this that I speak of here but rather the actual reality of God, assuming God exists at all which I do.) Put another way, I believe that God is a fixed truth. This is what I would mean if I said that God is unchanging.
Following from this, I don’t have a problem saying that there are certain things God can’t do. This does not take away from God being all powerful. The most fundamental point is that God cannot not be God. I also don’t have a problem saying that God can’t (and won’t) do such things like resolve logically problematic or nonsensical questions such as “Can God create a rock so big that he can’t pick it up?”
I also believe God is the source, the creator. I believe all of creation, all of reality, is based on God. This means to me that reality also has a fixed nature insomuch as it is fixed on and anchored to God. This doesn’t mean that everything within nature is fixed, however there are fixed parameters.
This concept of reality with certain fixed parameters (fixed because they are based on the fixed nature of God) addresses the magical misconception of God’s power. God can’t “magically” make things happen which go against the nature of reality and of his character. This would be nonsense. This doesn’t mean God is any less powerful.
There are further things which flow out from this, such as how God can’t force a person to love him since this would no longer be love. (This is a practical example of the “Can God create a rock so big that he can’t pick it up?” dilemma.) I will develop the idea of love as the reason God can’t micromanage the universe in my next post.
photo credit: Boko Haram via photopin (license)