This cool and breezy, early-autumn morning, Pontheolla and I snipped and shaped a number of our myriad plants in our garden in anticipation of new growth next spring. Hour after hour passed. Eventually, the time came to transfer overflowing bags to the trash bins for disposal. After some huffing and puffing, an age-old philosophical question relative to the paradox of Divine omnipotence came to mind: Can God create something, say, a bag of debris, too heavy for God to lift?
My immediate facetious answer: Perhaps not, but I can!
More seriously, following an ancient line of thought, if one answers either “Yes” or “No,” then God, in the former case, able to create and being unable to lift and, in the latter case, unable to create, cannot be all-powerful.
However, taking the argument another step, the question’s implied definition of omnipotence is skewed toward the rationally absurd. One might well ask whether God can make 1 + 1 = 3 (or any other number other than 2) or whether God can create a circle that is a square (or vice-versa).
More to the point, God’s omnipotence is limited by the Divine nature. In a word, God – as I reflect on the Genesis 1 account of creation, with its systematic and increasing differentiation – is consistent. Thus, to make a squared circle or a circled square would negate the Divine logic, purpose, and order of the creation.
The more I mused on the question of God’s omnipotence, the more I thought of all the things that I can do that God cannot or, perhaps, more reasonably said, will not do.
Again, I can fill a bag of debris so full and heavy that I cannot lift it.
And, reflecting on the nature of God, as revealed in the Bible, I, contrarily, when hurt and angry, can withhold my love and refuse to forgive. And I, acting on my native self-interest, at its deepest selfish degree, in the face of scarcity of resources, can and will (at least, be tempted to) decline to offer aid to another in need.
However, in all these ways (and more), I, able to do what God cannot or will not do, dare not claim to be greater, but far, far the lesser than God. Even more, I fall short of the fulfillment of my purpose, as made in God’s image, to be and to do as God is.
So, there in our garden, as was the case of Adam and Eve in Eden, I, in my human hubris, was called to repentance. And I thank God that God is a God of unconditional love and forgiveness!
© 2021 PRA
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