Christians agree that God is omnipotent and sovereign, meaning that He is able to do all things. The Nicene Creed proclaims faith in “one God, the Father almighty.”
However, what does that complete power truly mean? According to Dictionary.com, omnipotent means “infinite in power” and “having very great or unlimited authority.” Can God then do anything at anytime He wishes, or are there some limits that even God has?
Some philosophers and theologians have argued that God cannot do the illogical. The reasoning follows as such:
- Just as God is the essence of love and good, He is the epitome of reasoning and logic. Human logic is one part of being made in His image.
- God is honest and never contradicts Himself: Hebrews 6:18 “It is impossible for God to lie.”
- If God acts illogically, He is contradicting His very nature.
- If God were to contradict His nature, He would no longer be a just and moral God.
- Therefore, God cannot act illogically.
One respected Christian who believed this idea was the beloved author C.S. Lewis. In Problem of Pain, Lewis attempts to explain the nature of God’s power and love while evil exists in the world:
“His Omnipotence means power to do all that is intrinsically possible, not to do the intrinsically impossible. You may attribute miracles to him, but not nonsense. This is no limit to his power. If you choose to say ‘God can give a creature free will and at the same time withhold free will from it,’ you have not succeeded in saying anything about God: meaningless combinations of words do not suddenly acquire meaning simply because we prefix to them the two other words ‘God can.’ It is true that all things are possible with God: the intrinsic possibilities are not things but nonentities. It is no more possible for God than for the weakest of his creatures to carry out both of two mutually exclusive alternatives; not because his power meets an obstacle, but because nonsense remains nonsense even when we talk it about God.”
This reasoning makes sense. However, putting logic above God by using it to constrain Him is unnerving. Even if it is an aspect of Himself, how can we say that God is unable to do something because of logic?
God, after all, is all-mighty and powerful, as mentioned previously. The Catechism of the Catholic Church proclaims this in sections 268-269:
“Of all the divine attributes, only God’s omnipotence is named in the Creed: to confess this power has great bearing on our lives. We believe that his might is universal, for God who created everything also rules everything and can do everything. God’s power is loving, for he is our Father, and mysterious, for only faith can discern it when it “is made perfect in weakness. . .The Holy Scriptures repeatedly confess the universal power of God. He is called the “Mighty One of Jacob”, the “LORD of hosts”, the “strong and mighty” one. If God is almighty “in heaven and on earth”, it is because he made them. Nothing is impossible with God, who disposes his works according to his will. He is the Lord of the universe, whose order he established and which remains wholly subject to him and at his disposal. He is master of history, governing hearts and events in keeping with his will: “It is always in your power to show great strength, and who can withstand the strength of your arm?”
Perhaps the dilemma comes in when we realize that our grasp of logic is faulty. Just as we cannot fully understand or express God’s love, we fail to totally reason with His logic. Our human nature keeps from truly experiencing logical principles as they really are. At least during this life, humans must grasp onto revealed glimpses of love, logic, mercy, beauty, and other virtues.
So, is God controlled by logic? Perhaps this question makes as much sense as wondering if God is controlled by love. Neither of these control God; instead, they are attributes of Him. Instead of saying “He cannot act illogically,” we should affirm that He is logical and honest. This emphasizes the fact that He holds the standard of logical that we are attempting to meet.
Humans will never fully be able to be as loving or logical as God (unless this happens in heaven) because God is so much greater than us. Still, our aim should be to get as close to God’s nature as possible.