By Mike Edwards
One may claim God is all-powerful or Omnipotent to show respect toward God. But perfect power is uncontrolling. A perfect God’s love can’t be controlling. How can a God be all-powerful if not able to control everything that happens? Our understanding of God’s power matters. A God who supposedly can stop suffering but doesn’t is no different than a parent who stands by and watches their child suffer.
God can’t be all-powerful!
Thomas Oord in his new book defends ably that the Bible doesn’t necessarily claim God is all-powerful and can do anything. See here. God can’t tempt others (Jas. 1:13). God can’t lie or be unloving. In Chapter 2 Oord gives many great examples where we must be more careful claiming God is all-powerful or can do anything. We all have heard examples such as God’s can’t make a married bachelor, or God can’t make a round square. God can’t make one believe or freedom would be a farce. It makes no sense to say God can exert all power and creatures can exert some power. Oord points out that “qualified omnipotence is an oxymoron.” Thankfully, there are limits when we think of God’s power.
God can’t be responsible for evil
I have never understood why God doesn’t stop evil if God can do anything. If “everything happens for a reason” because of God, this would make God responsible for all goodness and all evil. It is claimed a mystery how God can cause or allow evil but not be evil. This isn’t true for humans. Some claim all evil eventually leads to good as if some grand plan by God. Hardly! Ask sexual abuse victims or family members of murdered victims.
Perfect love isn’t controlling. Ask any adult child. Evil and suffering in the world may be because God cannot intervene single-handedly without being controlling. Such freedom by God is necessary for authentic relationships to develop. Forced love is an oxymoron. God is surely doing all they can to stop suffering with the help of others. It isn’t that God had the power to do something about it, but chose not to; it’s that God can’t. Divine love limits divine power.
What about prayer?
Many prayers asking for healing are obviously not answered. I doubt God is arbitrarily choosing to bless some and not others. Are miracles arbitrary? Conditions in our body may not always be right. Various biological and environmental factors are involved such as cells, organs, etc. If God wouldn’t take away your human freedom, it may not be a stretch to say God has to account for natural freedom as well. Miracles can happen when God’s uncontrolling love aligns with countless factors known and not known. God surely intervenes when circumstances will allow. See here.
What can God do?
God can be loving. The only God worth believing in or having a relationship with must be a perfect Lover. God can’t be all-powerful or controlling and be true to God’s nature. Oord says it best in his last Chapter — Omnipotence is dead, Love is alive. Oord goes on to say that so many positive elements can come from affirming a universal, divine Lover. Such a Spirit empowers, inspires, and accompanies us in our relationships with others. God knows and empathizes with us in our suffering. God obviously grieves due to all the evil in the world. God suffered when Jesus was crucified. God suggested through Jesus’ example and words what kind of life lived here on earth can make for a much grander world.
Mike Edwards has been writing for Done with Religion for some time and has been a great addition to the site. Mike also has his own site where he writes that can be found at What God May Really Be Like He can be contacted by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org