A Few Example Posts:

  • "The End of Faith: A Short Response to Sam Harris"
  • See also:
  • "A Long Response to Sam Harris' The End of Faith, by Neil Shenvi"

  • "Is John Piper the Best Answer to Emergence and Postmodernism?"

  • "Captured"

  • "The Storm is Over"

  • "If Golfing Were the Pursuit of Moral Perfection"

  • 9.21.2005

    Ultimate Discussions 3

    See Ultimate Discussions 1 for Introductory Material



    As a boy of seven or eight years, I was intrigued with the life of Steve Austin--the bionic man. He was faster and stronger than anyone else. I loved the way he could lift cars, beams, or people with that strong right arm of his. Children and adults enjoy these stories about people with extraordinary powers. Comic book heroes like Superman, Batman, and Spiderman live large in our pop culture. Movies such as Harry Potter, the Matrix, and X-Men have swept away the imaginations of millions of Americans.

    What makes us so vulnerable to such fantasies? First I would say that people have always been vulnerable to a well crafted story. Yet there is another reason. I think people are always intrigued by the thought of having more power than reality gives them. We have to imagine heroes with special powers because we humans are really weak creatures in many ways. Charles Hodge wrote, “Power in man is confined within very narrow limits. We can change the current of our thoughts, or fix our attention on a particular object, and we can move the voluntary muscles of our body. Beyond this our direct power does not extend.... We cannot will a book, a picture, or a house into existence. The production of such effects requires the protracted labor and the use of diverse appliances.”1 In other words, we have to make machines to do the heavy work.

    God is not like that. He is not limited to quirky comic book powers or to machines and tools to do His will. He has all power. A better way to put it is that he is omnipotent--and it is no fantasy. Only an omnipotent God could create such a universe as we live in. Hodge goes on to describe this omnipotence: “God can do whatever He wills.... With God means are unnecessary. He wills, and it is done. He said, ‘Let there be light; and there was light’.... This simple idea of the omnipotence of God, that He can do without effort, and by a volition, whatever He wills, is the highest conceivable idea of power, and is that which is clearly presented in the Scriptures.”2

    An Old Testament prophet named Jeremiah accurately told God in a prayer, “Ah Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you.”3

    Jesus told His followers, “With God, all things are possible.”4 When an angel came to Mary, the mother of Jesus, he told her, “For nothing is impossible with God.”5 And the apostle Paul wrote in the New Testament book of Romans that the father of the nation of Israel, Abraham, was “fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.”6

    Of course, God only promises and does things according to His personality or nature. He cannot tell a fib or do anything absurd or illogical like making a round rectangle or annihilating Himself. All these things are against His perfect nature.


    So, God is omnipotent. He can do whatever He wants according to His nature and with no effort. He wills, and it is done. Talk about power!
    ----------------------
    1 Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, reprinted 1997), 406-407.
    2 Hodge, 407.
    3 Jeremiah 32:17
    4 Mark 10:27
    5 Luke 1:37
    6 Romans 4:21

    2 Comments:

    At 1:25 PM, Blogger J. Wendell said...

    John,

    Thank you for the reminder of who God is and what is meant by Omnipotence. It creates a dividing line between reality and fantasy.
    Some one ask me once if God could create a rock so large that He couldn't lift it. My reply, having anticipated this kind of question was, "NO! It's a stone. A stone that is so hard that only He can soften it, it's the human heart."

    I still like pith and you got it!

     
    At 6:45 AM, Blogger Joe said...

    "He wills, and it is done. Talk about power!"

    Yeah. Every time I try that, I fail.

    But then I'm not God (for which we can all be grateful), and He is.

     

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