I'm finally getting around to a second installment in this series of quick advice on various apologetics issues for Christians. My first post and introduction to this series is here.
Sometimes Christians, in describing God's omnipotence, will say God can do anything. Unfortunately, this quickly leads to such questions as can God create a rock so heavy he can't lift it and that definition of omnipotence quickly backing one into a corner. Some, will go as far as to say that God is beyond logic and mean by this, that God can act contrary to it.
I'll address this subject with what I said in an online forum when the "paradox" of omnipotence was brought up.
The proper definition of omnipotence is that God can do all things possible, that do not conflict with his nature. Also, to say that God can't choose to not perform an act, would be to place a limit on his omnipotence, as well as overlook his free will.
The too heavy stone paradox is actually meaningless and doesn't reveal any contradictions with omnipotence, properly understood. By this I mean that the question fails due to it's own inherent logical flaws, before even being applied to God. It's the same as asking what happens if an immovable objects meets an irresistible force. However, if you actually have an immovable object, then you cannot have an irresistible force. The question places two mutually exclusive entities together and fails due to it's own internal inconsistency. Simply placing God in the question doesn't change what is essentially nonsense, to anything more than that, because it fails even at our level because of it's internal flaws.
Regarding the notion that God can act contrary to logic, I would say that means God is essentially unintelligible to us. I suspect that what is feared, when someone says this, is placing God under the control of something other than his own will and power. However, it's not that God is bound by external laws of logic, but that logic and rationality are grounded in his being as an essential property of his nature. To say otherwise, leaves us with very little more to say unless we care to only express nonsense.
Does this mean God is completely understandable to mere humans, that there is no mystery or glory possible? Such is not the case. We are after all, talking about a being that transcends all of physical reality, including time. Indeed, all possible worlds are known with all moments being eternally present to God. This ground of absolute being, is not just a brute fact, but a personal entity, consisting of multiple centers of conscious, who has reached not only out to us, but down to us, humbling himself at the cross for our salvation. While God has left records of his interaction with humanity and what he desires, there is still much glory and mystery for us to be drawn into and much to look forward to as expressed by C.S. Lewis, in The Last Battle.
The things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story, which no one on earth has read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.
We need not take what appear to be easy ways out of hard questions by falling back on such quips, as God is not bound by logic. With study, we can understand more and because of this, know that what remains beyond complete understanding is merely due to our lack of knowledge and our position within time, but with what we have learned, we can have comfort that God is and will continue to be righteous and holy and worthy of worship.
2Ti 2:15 Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
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