Month: September 2022
God’s Omnipotence And Sovereignty – Part Five
God’s Omnipotence And Sovereignty – Part Five
Once voluntarism is rejected, it is necessary to specify more precisely what saying that an omnipotent being could do anything means. One natural way of doing this is to define the form:
S is omnipotent =df S can perform any action A such that C
Where C specifies some conditions, A must satisfy. Such theories of omnipotence may be conveniently referred to as act theories. The most straightforward (non-voluntarist) act theory is:
(1) S is omnipotent =df S can perform any action A such that A is possible
This act theory deals with the problem of drawing a round square and making 2 x 4 = 9: these are not possible actions. There is some difficulty in saying which acts should count as possible, which threatens to weaken the condition. For instance, a Being who could perform only physically possible actions would not be omnipotent. The usual response, dating back to Aquinas, is that an action is possible, in the relevant sense, if and only if it is consistent, that is, if it is not self-contradictory.
The Stone Paradox is most effective against act theories. Making a stone one cannot lift is a possible action, so, to count as omnipotent according to (1), a being must be able to perform it. However, if any being performs this task, then there is a possible task which that being cannot perform immediately afterward, namely, lifting the stone one has just made.
It might object that this task is impossible for the being in question, but this qualification is not permitted (1). Definition (1) requires that an omnipotent being should be able to perform any logically possible action, that is, any action that could possibly be performed by any being at all, in any circumstances at all. It is clearly possible that some being performed the action of lifting the stone one have just made, so, according to (1), a being who had just performed the action of making a stone one cannot lift could not possibly be omnipotent. It is not a problem for a being who is only contingently omnipotent: such a being might perform the first task, thereby ceasing to be omnipotent, and so be unable to perform the second task, or the being might refrain from performing the first task, and so continue to be omnipotent. However, the Paradox shows that no being could be necessarily omnitemporally omnipotent in the contemplated theory. It has sometimes been thought that this problem could be solved simply by recognizing that creating a stone an omnipotent being cannot lift is an impossible action. Therefore an omnipotent being need not be able to perform it. [xiv]
However, this line of objection fails to recognize that, in addition to the impossible action of creating a stone an omnipotent being cannot lift, there are also such possible actions as creating a stone one cannot lift and creating a stone its creator cannot lift. There are further problems. Possible actions also include coming to know that one has never been omnipotent, which, since no one can know falsehoods, no omnipotent being could do. Additionally, this kind of view causes problems for various traditional religious views, such as the assertion by the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews that it is “impossible for God to lie” (Hebrews 6:18) since lying is a possible action. Before Aquinas, medieval philosophers often attempted to deal with this problem by claiming that an omnipotent being could perform any action which does not require a defect or infirmity. However, there was little success in spelling out this assertion’s meaning (Ross 1969: 196-202). Here is a definition that captures the basic idea of these medieval analyses:
(2) S is omnipotent =df S can perform any action A, so it is logically possible that S does A. It is similar to the Medieval suggestion since, according to classical theology, God is necessary without defect or infirmity, so if action A requires a defect or infirmity, (2) does not require that God, to count as omnipotent, should be able to do it. However, (2) runs into the famous ‘McEar’ counter-example (Plantinga 1967: 170; La Croix 1977: 183). Suppose it is a necessary truth about a particular being, known as McEar, that the only action he performs is scratching his ear. It follows that if McEar can scratch his ear, he is omnipotent, despite his inability to do anything else. This result is unacceptable.
One response, considered by Alvin Plantinga and advocated by Richard La Croix, is to claim that an otherwise God-like being who satisfied this definition would be omnipotent. If the concept of God is otherwise coherent, then this claim is probably valid. It also has the benefit of being guaranteed not to create any inconsistencies, for it is built into the definition that God has the power only to perform those actions such that he may perform them. However, to adopt this strategy is to give up on the project of providing a general analysis of omnipotence.
Furthermore, this claim, on its own, does not answer the question of the Stone Paradox: is it possible for God to create a stone he cannot lift? Although not everyone agrees that La Croix’s response is satisfactory, it is widely held that the prospects are not suitable for a consistent general definition or analysis of omnipotence in terms of acts. [xv]
The main alternatives to act theories of omnipotence are the result theories. Theories analyze omnipotence in terms of the results an omnipotent being would bring about. These results are usually thought of as states of affairs or possible worlds. A possible state of affairs is the way the world could be. Philosophers also sometimes recognize impossible states of affairs, ways the world could not be.
For instance, the sky’s blue is a possible state of affairs, and John’s being a married bachelor is an impossible state of affairs. A possible world is a maximally consistent state of affairs, a complete way the world could be. Equivalent, or approximately equivalent, result theories can be stated in terms of either state of affairs or possible worlds. The simplest (non-voluntarist) result theory can be stated, in terms of possible worlds, as follows:
(3) S is omnipotent =df S can bring about any possible world.
In other words, for any comprehensive way the world could be, an omnipotent being could bring it about that the world was that way. This omnipotence account was first clearly laid out and endorsed by Leibniz, who pioneered the philosophical use of the notion of a possible world (Leibniz 1985: sects. 7-8, 52, 416). More recently, James Ross has advocated a similar account, though Ross prefers a formulation in terms of states of affairs (Ross 1969: 210-213):
(4) S is omnipotent =df for every contingent state of affairs p, whether p is the case is logically equivalent to the effective choice, by S, that p, since every state of affairs must either obtain or not, and since two contradictory states of affairs cannot both obtain, an omnipotent being would have to will some maximal consistent set of contingent states of affairs (Ross 1980: 614). That is, someone possibly would. Ross’s definition, therefore, entails Leibniz’s.
The Leibniz-Ross theory neatly handles all of the objections raised against act theories. First, the Stone Paradox depends on the existence of reflexive actions, the actions whose descriptions refer back to the actor. Although states of affairs can refer to agents, a state of affairs does not have an actor. Thus, the phrase ‘there being a stone one cannot lift’ fails to specify a state of affairs since there is no actor for “one” to refer to. To specify a state of affairs, it is necessary to replace “one” with some expression that defines which agent or agents cannot lift the stone. However, there being a stone an omnipotent being cannot lift is clearly not a possible state of affairs. An omnipotent being could, therefore, not bring it about.
On the other hand, there being a stone its creator cannot lift is a possible state of affairs. And could be brought about by an omnipotent being, under the Leibniz-Ross theory, for an omnipotent being could bring it about that some other being created a stone that that being could not lift. Therefore, the Stone Paradox is not a problem for the Leibniz-Ross theory.
The Leibniz-Ross theory is likewise invulnerable to the objection regarding coming to know that one is not omnipotent. In this theory, an omnipotent being must be essentially omnipotent, and it is impossible that an omnipotent being should come to know that it is not omnipotent. Therefore, as in the stone case, the omnipotent being could bring about someone’s coming to know that she is not omnipotent, but not an omnipotent being’s coming to know that it is not omnipotent.
Finally, no analog to the McEar objection arises for the Leibniz-Ross theory. While no apparent contradictions are involved in the Leibniz-Ross theory, there are many metaphysical consequences that some have thought odd and absurd. First, the Leibniz-Ross theory implies that an omnipotent being exists necessarily. According to Leibniz’s formulation, an omnipotent being would be able to actualize any possible world. Still, it is absurd to suppose that an omnipotent being should actualize a world in which it never existed. It follows that no such world is possible. In Ross’s formulation, obtaining any state of affairs is equivalent to being chosen by an omnipotent being. Therefore, obtaining the state of affairs of no omnipotent being is logically equivalent to an omnipotent being effectively choosing that no omnipotent being should ever exist. Still, if no omnipotent being ever exists, then no omnipotent being ever chooses. As a result, the state of affairs of no omnipotent being ever existing cannot possibly obtain. [xvi]
Leibniz and Ross are both proponents of the Ontological argument for God’s existence. So they both regard this as a benefit of this theory of omnipotence. Others have, however, found it implausible. However, many people find it intuitive to suppose that there are possible worlds in which there is no omnipotent being, the Leibniz-Ross theory of omnipotence rules out this possibility.
The Leibniz-Ross theory may narrow the space of possible worlds even further, for God, the being Leibniz and Ross believe omnipotent, is also supposed to be necessarily morally perfect. Some worlds intuitively seem possible, which a necessarily morally perfect being could not, it seems, create–for instance, worlds in which the only sentient creatures suffer excruciating pain throughout every moment of their existence. According to the Leibniz-Ross theory, if the omnipotent being could not create these worlds, then these worlds are impossible. Furthermore, the Leibniz-Ross theory entails that an omnipotent being not only cannot create beings; it cannot control but cannot create beings; it does not control[xvii]. In the Leibniz-Ross theory, an omnipotent being must choose every state of affairs to obtain, including all of the choices of its creatures. It is often thought to be a severe threat to human freedom—all of the concerns with the Leibniz-Ross theory point in the same direction.
The suggestion that there are logically possible states of affairs that is nevertheless logically impossible that an omnipotent being, or an omnipotent being who also has the other traditional divine attributes, should actualize. This line of reasoning led Plantinga to dub the view that God can actualize any possible world “Leibniz’s Lapse.” [xviii There is disagreement about exactly which, or how many, an omnipotent being cannot possibly bring about possible states of affairs. For instance, philosophers disagree about whether the claim that an omnipotent being exists is necessarily valid, false, or contingent.
Suppose it is a contingent matter whether an omnipotent being exists. In that case, the state of affairs of no omnipotent being ever existing is possible but cannot possibly be brought about by an omnipotent being. Perhaps the most widely accepted examples and those Plantinga focuses on are statements about creatures’ free choices. Plantinga believes that it is logically impossible that any being other than Caesar should bring about the possible state of affairs, such as Caesar’s freely choosing not to cross the Rubicon. If Caesar’s not crossing the Rubicon had been brought about by some other being (for example, God), then Caesar would not have freely chosen. If it is accepted that there are some possible states of affairs that it is impossible that an omnipotent being should bring about, a more complicated analysis of omnipotence is needed. An obvious candidate is:
(5) S is omnipotent =df S can bring about any state of affairs p such that it is logically possible that S brings about p
However, this brings back the McEar objection, which the Leibniz-Ross theory had escaped. It is essential to McEar that he never brings about anything other than scratching his ear. It is, therefore, impossible that McEar brings about some other state of affairs. As a result, this definition, once again, wrongly counts McEar as omnipotent, provided that he can scratch his ear. Some philosophers have responded by arguing that there could not possibly be such a being as McEar.[xix] Others have given up on the project of giving a general analysis of omnipotence. [xx] Still others have advocated theories of omnipotence, which make unique accommodation to creaturely freedom. [xxi]
Erik J. Wielenberg (2000) advocated a different approach to the problem. According to Wielenberg, omnipotence cannot be analyzed simply by considering which states of affairs an omnipotent being could or could not bring about. Instead, it is necessary to consider why the being could or could not bring them about. Wielenberg proposes the following analysis:
(6) S is omnipotent =df; there is no state of affairs p such that S cannot bring about p at least partially due to lack of power.
The analysis avoids attributing omnipotence to McEar since McEar’s limitation seems to be partially due to a lack of power. It also solves the problem of the consistency of God’s inability to do evil with omnipotence since God’s inability to do evil is not due to a lack of power. Finally, according to Wielenberg, if it is true that even an omnipotent being could not bring about Caesar’s freely choosing not to cross the Rubicon, then this must be due not to a lack of power but the logic of the situation. Wielenberg’s account’s chief limitation is that it uses some unanalyzed notions whose analysis philosophers have found quite harrowing. These are the notion of lack of power and the notion of one state of affairs obtaining partially due to another state of affairs obtaining. Without analyses of these notions, it is hard to tell whether Wielenberg’s analysis is self-consistent and whether it is consistent with other traditional divine attributes.
God’s Omnipotence And Sovereignty – Part Four
God’s Omnipotence And Sovereignty – Part Four
The Self-Consistency of Omnipotence:
The Paradox of The Stone
Could an omnipotent being create a stone too heavy for it to lift? More generally, could an Omnipotent Being create something it could not control? [i] This question is known as the Paradox of the Stone, or the Paradox of Omnipotence. It appears that answering either “yes” or “no” will mean that the being in question is not omnipotent after all. For suppose that the being cannot create the stone. Then it seems that it is not omnipotent, for there is something that it cannot do. But suppose the being can create the stone. Then, again, there is something it cannot do, namely, lift the stone it has created.
Although the argument is usually initially stated in this form, as it stands, it is not entirely valid. Because a particular being can create a stone it cannot lift, it does not follow that there is something that that being cannot do. It only follows that if the being were to create the stone, there would be something it could not do. As a result, the Paradox is a problem only for necessary omnitemporal omnipotence; that is, for the view that there is a Being who exists necessarily and is necessarily omnipotent at every time. [ii] There is no problem for a Being who is only omnipotent at certain times because the being in question might very well be omnipotent prior to creating the stone (but not after). Furthermore, the stone paradox provides no reason to suppose there could not be a contingently omnitemporally omnipotent being. All the being in question would need to do is decide not to create the stone, and then it would be omnipotent every time.
Nevertheless, the Stone Paradox is of interest because necessary omnitemporal omnipotence has traditionally been attributed to God. The Stone Paradox has been the main focus of those attempting to specify precisely what an omnipotent being could, and could not, do. However, some questions arise even for those who do not wish to insist on necessary omnitemporal omnipotence. Could an omnipotent being draw a square circle? Descartes notoriously answered “yes.” However, at least since Aquinas, Western philosophical and theological traditions have almost universally given the opposite answer. The Paradox of the stone has prompted several responses that employ different techniques to address the apparent Paradox. [iii]
One comes from George Mavrodes, who argues that the supposed Paradox is spurious since the notion of a stone that is too heavy for God to lift is contradictory; hence, the lifting of such a stone involves a logically impossible state of affairs. A person might make an object too heavy for the person to lift. Still, on the assumption that God is omnipotent, the phrase “a stone too heavy for God to lift” means “a stone that cannot be lifted by Him whose power is sufficient for lifting anything.” [iv]
Mavrodes suggested that comparing God’s lifting power and creating power could see the contradictory nature of “a stone too heavy for God to lift.” Suppose one takes the Paradox seriously and thinks that it forces some limitation on God’s omnipotence. In that case, one might maintain the full power of God’s infinite ability to lift things and restrict God’s ability to create, admitting that God cannot create such a stone. In such a case, has one given up anything? Mavrodes thinks not. Since God’s power to lift is infinite, God’s ability to create is still infinite. God can still create everything possible to lift; therefore, God is not limited to lifting or creating power. [v]
The main difficulty with Mavrodes’s solution to the Paradox of the stone is that it proceeds based on the assumption that God is omnipotent; however, as Richard Swinburne points out, the main thrust of Savage’s Paradox is to call into question the coherence of the very notion of omnipotence. [vi] Mavrodes’ claim the phrase “a stone too heavy for God to lift” is self-contradictory and hinges upon God’s being omnipotent. Still, one can hardly use the notion of omnipotence to resolve the Paradox until the Paradox has been resolved. Whereas Mavrodes’s response to the Paradox of the stone assumes that God cannot do logically impossible things, Harry Frankfurt takes a different line in “The Logic of Omnipotence” by arguing that a response to the Paradox does not require such an assumption. [vii]
Frankfurt points out that if we reject the principle that God cannot do logically impossible things, a solution to the Paradox comes very easily. If God can do logically impossible things, then if God can create the stone, he can just as easily lift it; that is, doing one logically impossible thing, he can do another. [viii] Frankfurt’s response to the Paradox of the stone, which relies upon the principle that God can do logically impossible things, gives away too much since it amounts to abandoning logic altogether. Suppose the main force of the Paradox is to attack the notion of omnipotence as logically incoherent. In that case, this “response” seems to strengthen the Paradox instead of solving it by apparently admitting that the notion of omnipotence is fundamentally paradoxical and even contradictory. Richard Swinburne has also responded in length to the Paradox of the stone. After considering several different formulations of the notion of omnipotence, Swinburne finally settles upon the following (which is [D] in his scheme):
[D]: a person P is omnipotent at a time t if and only if he can bring about any logically contingent state of affairs after t, the description of which does not entail that P did not bring it about at t.[ix] Swinburne relies upon [D] to defuse the Paradox. When one introduces temporal operators into the definition of omnipotence; then one can no longer talk of omnipotence simpliciter. But one must talk of omnipotence relative to a particular time. [D] logically allows a person to be omnipotent at one time, not at another. Swinburne maintains that “in the ordinary sense of ‘person,’ “a person may choose to exercise his omnipotent ability in such a way to make himself case to be omnipotent at some future time. [x]
So, if God exercises his ability to make the stone at t, he will cease to be omnipotent after t. While Swinburne sees his temporal-referenced, modified account of omnipotence as nonrestrictive, it is questionable that [D] retains a notion of omnipotence that would be acceptable to traditional theists. In the first place, there is no “ordinary sense of ‘person’ “according to which it makes sense to talk about a person being omnipotent. It is only in an extraordinary sense and only in God’s unique case that omnipotence is even associated with the notion of personhood, which suggests that there must be something logically unique about the property. The view that an omnipotent being could do absolutely anything, even the logically absurd, is known as “voluntarism.” Simply rejecting voluntarism does not answer the Stone Paradox.
Creating a stone too heavy for its creator to lift is a possible task. Another possible task that an omnipotent being can not perform is knowing that one has never been omnipotent. For human beings, this is a reasonably simple task, but for an omnipotent being, it would seem to be impossible. The general problem is this: The fact that it is logically possible that some being performs a specified task (the task itself does not contain a contradiction) does not guarantee that it is logically possible for an omnipotent being to perform that task. Coming to know that one has never been omnipotent is an example of a single task that is logically possible for some being to perform, but which is logically impossible for an omnipotent being to perform.
The Stone Paradox provides an example of two tasks (creating a stone its creator cannot lift and lifting the stone one has just created) such that each task is logically possible. Still, it is logically impossible for one task to be performed immediately after the other. It is necessary to say something more precise to meet these challenges than to affirm that an omnipotent being would be able to do whatever is possible. These more precise theories can be divided into two classes: ‘act theories,’ which say that an omnipotent being would be able to perform any action, and ‘result theories,’ which say that an omnipotent being would be able to bring about any result.
René Descartes, almost alone in the tradition of Western theology, held that God could do anything. Even affirming, “God could have brought it about … that it was not true that twice four make eight.” [xi] If this doctrine is adopted, then the Stone Paradox is dissolved: If an omnipotent being could make contradictions accurate, then an omnipotent being could make a stone too heavy for it to “lift and still lift it.” [xii] However, this doctrine is of questionable coherence. To cite just one difficulty, it would seem to follow from the claim that God could make 2 x 4 = 9 that possibly God makes 2 x 4 = 9. However, it is a necessary truth that if God makes 2 x 4 = 9, then 2 x 4 = 9. In standard modal logics, possibly p and necessarily if p, then q together entail possibly q, so it seems to follow that possibly 2 x 4 = 9. Descartes does not accept this consequence, but it is unclear how he can avoid it. It has been suggested that he may be implicitly committed to rejecting one or more widely accepted modal axioms. [xiii]. These absurdities have led to philosophers’ and theologians’ nearly universal rejection of voluntarism.
- [i] Mackie 1955: 210
- [ii] Swinburne 1973; Meierding 1980
- [iii] In addition to the responses discussed here, see Alvin Plantinga, God and Other Minds (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1976). 168-73.
- [iv] George Mavrodes, “Some Puzzles Concerning Omnipotence,” Philosophical Review, 72, 1963, 221-23.
- [v] Mavrodes, 114.
- [vi] Richard Swinburne, The Coherence of Theism, 158.
- [vii] Harry Frankfurt, “The Logic of Omnipotence,” The Philosophical Review, Vol. 73, 1964, 262-63. Reprinted in Philosophy of Religion: An Anthology, edited by Louis Pojman (Belmont, Calif.: Wadsworth, 1998), to which the page numbers here refer.
- [viii] Frankfurt, 282
- [ix] Richard Swinburne, The Coherence of Theism, 156.
- [x] Swinburne, 161. For a discussion of temporal considerations in the notion of omnipotence as well as a distinction concerning different levels of omnipotence (“first-order” and “second-order” omnipotence), see J.L., Mackie, “Evil and Omnipotence,” Mind, Vol 64, 1955, 200-12
- [xi] Descartes 1984-1991: 2:294
- [xii] Frankfurt 1964.
- [xiii] Curley 1984
The Principle of Causality in African Metaphysics
God’s Omnipotence And Sovereignty – Part Three
God’s Omnipotence And Sovereignty – Part Three
The Notion Of Omnipotence:
Conceptual analysis of the notion of omnipotence has demonstrated the powerful effects of analytic philosophy – frequently frustrating but often clarifying. Richard LaCroix has argued that a general definition of omnipotence is impossible, and Gorge Mavrodes responded by attempting to provide such a definition. Both Joshua Hoffman and Bruce Reichenbach agreed that Marvrodes’s definition is inadequate. Few contemporary discussants of God’s omnipotence, including Marvrodes, have followed Descartes in maintaining that God can do everything, including the logically impossible. Most have followed Aquinas in maintaining that God can do everything logically possible.
The notion of an all-powerful Being is often claimed to be incoherent because a Being that has the power to do anything would, for instance, have the power to draw a round square. [i]
However, it is absurd to suppose that any being can draw a round square no matter how powerful. A typical response to this objection is to assert that defenders of divine omnipotence never intended to claim that God could bring about logical absurdities. Philosophers have therefore attempted to state necessary and sufficient conditions for omnipotence. Several criteria evaluate these proposed analyses. First, we must determine whether the property described by the analysis captures what theologians and ordinary religious believers mean when they describe God as Omnipotent, Almighty, or All-powerful. Omnipotence is thought to be a pretty impressive property. Indeed, the traditional God’s omnipotence is one attribute that makes Him worthy of worship. If an analysis implies that indeed conceivable beings that are not impressive concerning their power count as omnipotent, then the analysis is inadequate.
Second, when a particular analysis does seem to be in line with the term’s ordinary use, the next question is whether the property described is self-consistent. For instance, many proposed omnipotence analyses give inconsistent answers to whether an omnipotent being could create a stone too heavy for it to lift. Third, it is necessary to determine whether omnipotence, so understood, could form part of a coherent total religious view. Some omnipotence analyses require that an omnipotent be able to do evil or break promises, but God has traditionally been regarded as unable to do these things. It has also been argued that the existence of an omnipotent being would be inconsistent with human freedom. Finally, divine omnipotence is one of the premises leading to the alleged contradiction in traditional religious belief known as Evil’s Logical Problem. A successful analysis of omnipotence is one, which captures the ordinary notion, is free from internal contradiction, and is compatible with the other elements of the religious view in which it is embedded. Some difficulties in understanding the notion of omnipotence involve actions that seem to be prohibited by God’s nature. God cannot commit suicide or sadistically torture young children just for fun, given his nature. So a further limitation that can be placed on the range of possible actions for God is that God can do everything that is not contrary to God’s nature.
God Is Omnipotent – Thomas Aquinas[ii]
Thomas Aquinas (1224-1274), the most significant Christian Philosopher-theologian of the Middle Ages, addresses what it means to say that God is omnipotent. He argues that omnipotence does not imply that God can do what is “impossible absolutely” (such as creating a square circle) because that is to do something contradictory. Nor does omnipotence imply that God can do evil; to do evil would imply imperfection in God, which contradicts God’s perfect nature. Aquinas argues that God is said to be omnipotent concerning active power, not passive power. God cannot sin because of His omnipotence. Aquinas further says that God’s omnipotence is shown in sharing and having mercy. In this, it is made manifest that God has supreme power, namely, that He freely forgives sins.
The Trinity: God in Three Persons:
The Doctrine of Trinity can be defined as follows: God eternally exists as three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and each person is entirely God, and there is one God. The doctrine of the Trinity runs through the Bible even though the “Holy Trinity” is not explicitly mentioned, but the Scriptures’ systematic study point to God in Three Persons. The word ‘Trinity’ means ‘tri-unity’ or ‘three-in-oneness.’ Making the concept of the Holy Trinity clearer, some creeds were specifically created: Apostles’ Creed (200-900), Creed of Nicaea: ‘Nicene’ (325), and Athanasius Creed (500 A.D.), among others. Hence, the doctrine of the Trinity is progressively revealed in Scripture. There is a partial revelation in the Old Testament. In Genesis 1:26, God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” The same can be said of Genesis 3:22 “Behold; the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil,” gen. 11:7 “Come, let us go down, and there confuse their language,” and Isaiah 6:8 “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?”. It is essential to note the combination of singular and plural in the same sentence in Isaiah 6:8.
There are other passages where one person is called ‘God’ or the ‘Lord’ and is distinguished from another person who is also said to be God: Check Psalm 45: 6-7, Psalm 110: 1, Isaiah 63:10, Malachi 3: 1-2. Also, several Old Testament passages about “the angel of the LORD” suggest a plurality of persons in God (see Gen. 16:13; Exodus 3:2-6; 23:20-22 *note “my name is in him” in v. 21*; Num. 22:35 with 38; Judg. 2:1-2; 6:11 with 14). One of the most disputed O.T. texts that could show a distinct personality for more than one person is Proverbs 8: 22-31. There is the complete revelation of the Trinity in the New Testament.
When Jesus was baptized, the heavens were opened, and John the Baptist saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and alighting on him; and lo, a voice from heaven, saying “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” (Matt. 3: 16-17). At the end of Jesus’ earthly Ministry, He tells the disciples: that they should go “and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” (Matt. 28:19). Similarly, the last verse of 2 Corinthians is Trinitarian in its expression: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” (2 Cor. 13:14). All three persons of the Trinity are mentioned in the opening sentence of 1 Peter. And in Jude 20-21, we read: “But you, beloved, build yourselves up on your most holy faith; pray in the Holy Spirit; keep yourselves in the love of God; wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.”
Three statements summarize the Biblical teaching of the Holy Trinity:
- God is three persons
- Each person is entirely God
- Three is one God
Scripture is abundantly clear that there is one and only one God. The three different persons of the Trinity are one not only in purpose and in agreement on what they do or think, but they are one in essence and one in their essential nature. God is ‘One’ but also 3, all divine, all-powerful with different roles. The Trinity is one True God. Trinity is convened in the Apostles’ Creed. The strength of the Apostles Creed is its ability to safeguard or protect us from veering down paths that lead us far from the church’s norms. When we read the Apostle’sApostle’s Creed, we hear of a Trinitarian God who exists in three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We read about the preeminence of Jesus Christ as both human and divine, and we also read about his promised return. This succinct statement of faith points to our faith’s absolute core and forms the cornerstone for us today. Besides Christianity, are other forms of religion? The idea of a Father, Son, and Holy Spirit looks absurd to these groups. Some outrightly denied the humanity or divine nature of Christ.
The worst is Arianism which denied the divinity of Christ. The word ‘Trinity’ is not mentioned in the Bible but coined by Tertullian of Carthage, an early church father, but the doctrine is in the Bible. The Old and New Testaments reflect God’s doctrine, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit – Genesis 1, 2 Cor. 13:14, Matt. 28:18-19. We must understand God’s three faces and see Him equally.
God has always been speaking; we have not always been listening. He is seeking those who would serve Him. He speaks to our minds, or intellect, so that we may clearly understand His Will and purpose for us. There are many facets of God’s mission, the purpose for humankind, the Great Commandment and Great Commission, and the strategy God has given us to build His Kingdom.
We explore God’s World, Word, God’s Work, and Ways, understanding, as did Moses (Exodus 3), that it is never about us but always about GOD. The Christian Mission is the Call of the Father. The work of God the Son is from purpose to power to programs (or procedures) in the method of engaging the Will. God seems to work from the head to the heart to the feet. Jesus died for us to be redeemed and become children of God and co-heirs of the Kingdom of God with Him.
God’s revelation of His heart for the world demands a response on our part. Our relationship with God is not just cerebral: He gave us hearts to love Him and emotions to respond to His overtures toward us. He does not expect us to live the Christian life in our strength. He gave us a dynamic Person to dwell in us and empower us to serve Him in response to the clarion call to evangelize and disciple the nations (the mission). Here we explore the Trinity, emphasizing the Person and Work of the Holy Spirit and our utter dependence upon Him for daily living. In engaging our hearts and emotions, the Holy Spirit plays His role.
- [i] Kenneth L. Pearce, University of Southern California, © Copyright Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy and its Authors | ISSN 2161-0002
- [ii] Philosophy of Religion fifth edition, Selected Readings edited by Michael Peterson et al., New York: Oxford University Press, 2014
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God’s Omnipotence And Sovereignty – Part Two
God’s Omnipotence And Sovereignty – Part Two
Knowing God Without Arguments:
The Reformed Objection to Natural Theology – Alvin Plantinga
In his essay,[i] Alvin Plantinga (b. 1932) sets out the essentials of an approach to religious knowledge that has come to be known as Reformed Epistemology. Plantinga notes that the tradition of natural theology, which seeks to prove God’s existence based on evident premises to any thinking person, has often met with resistance in Christianity’s Reformed (or Calvinistic) branch.
Not only have the Reformed Christians felt that the arguments of natural theology are insufficient as a basis for religious belief, but they have considered the whole idea of basing belief on arguments to be misguided. It is not to say, however, that their belief in God is irrational. On the contrary, Reformed Christians have typically held that belief in God is a correctly fundamental belief that is not held based on any other belief and does not need to be justified in terms of other beliefs – or arguments. The Reformed objection to natural theology, unformed and inchoate as it is, may be seen as a rejection of classical foundationalism. As the Reformed thinker sees things, being self-evident, incorrigible, or evident to the senses is not a necessary condition of proper basically. He goes on to add that belief in God is properly basic. He is not thereby committed, even in the absence of a general criterion of proper basicality, to suppose that just any or nearly any belief-belief in the Great Pumpkin, for example, is properly basic.
Experience, Proper Basically, and Belief in God – Robert Pargetter[ii]
Robert Pargetter (b. 1944) agrees with Plantinga that many theists believe in God in a “basic” way, grounding this belief in inexperience rather than supporting it with other beliefs they hold. But is such a belief properly fundamental, so it is reasonable to hold one’s belief this way? That depends on effective “defeaters” for theistic belief-other propositions the believer accepts, or ought to accept, that provide compelling reasons for rejecting the experientially based belief in God.
Pargetter examines several potential defeaters to see whether they make a fundamental belief in God unreasonable. He illuminates his discussion by pointing out the analogies between a properly fundamental belief in God and a belief in “the Force” by characters in the popular Star Wars film series. He summarised that the claim of proper Basicality for belief in God, grounded in experience, will depend ultimately on reliable persons having such experiences in circumstances that do not undermine their reliability. For the resulting systems of beliefs to fare well on holistic evaluation for rationality. The rationality of those who do not share these experiences in accepting such beliefs based on testimony will similarly depend on the holistic evaluation of the rationality of their resulting systems of beliefs.
The Case of the Intellectually Sophisticated Theist – William Hasker[iii]
Philip Quinn (1940-2004) grants that belief in God can have a justification or warrant based directly on experience, as described by Plantinga. But is this justification sufficient by itself to make belief in God rational for well-informed contemporary adults? Plantinga thinks the answer to this is yes, but Quinn disagrees. He contends that for most well-informed theists in our culture, there are “defeaters” for theistic belief (notably, the problem of evil and “projective” psychological explanations of religious belief) that outweigh the warrant provided by religious experience.
For such persons, an additional positive case, in the form of some natural theology, is needed if their belief in God is rational. William Hasker (b. 1935) summarizes and assesses this disagreement between Quinn and Plantinga. Hasker concludes that Quinn is more nearly correct than Plantinga, but he agrees that both Quinn and Plantinga are winners – as are all the rest that have benefitted from their exchange. Much work remains to be done in clarifying the nature, scope, and force of the non-inferential justification of religious belief by experience. In so far as our faith is crucially rooted in historical narratives, there is philosophical work (as well as historical work) to clarify the nature, credibility, and evidential force of those narratives.
The Five Proofs of God – Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae[iv]
St. Thomas Aquinas was the greatest philosopher-theologian of the Middle Ages. In his monumental Summa Theologiae,[v] he proved God’s existence in five ways, based on Aristotelian principles.
In the first Proof, Aquinas argues that since some things move, and whatever moves is caused to move by something other than itself, then either the chain of movers goes back infinitely far (which is impossible) or else there is a first, unmoved, mover, an original source of motion – and this is God. Aquinas then argues that this sequence cannot continue back ad infinitum; it is necessary to arrive at a first mover, which is moved by nothing else – and this everyone thinks of as God.
The second Proof, which is very like the first in structure, takes the fact that some things are caused as its premise and reasons to the conclusion that to account for this (since the chain of causes cannot stretch back forever)[vi] we must ultimately arrive at a first (uncaused) cause, which is God.
The third Proof (sometimes called the Proof) from the world’s contingency starts from the fact that some things come into being and pass away and are hence contingent (they can either be or not be) as opposed to necessary. But everything was like this, Aquinas argues: then, at some time in the past, nothing whatever would have existed (the logic of this is obscure: why should there not always be a time when at least some contingent things exist, even though each of them is capable of ceasing to be?). At all events, Aquinas proceeds to reason that to explain why there is anything at all; we must eventually posit a necessary being in the strong sense of something which ‘is necessary for its own right’ or ‘necessary of itself’ (per se necessarium), and this is God.
The fourth Proof starts from the degrees of perfection found in the world; for things to be more or less good or have more or less being than others, there must ultimately be a supreme entity that is the source of all being and goodness; this is God. One might object that degrees of goodness imply something relatively or comparatively pre-eminent, not that there is a wholly supreme divine source of goodness. Here Aquinas seems to rely on a framework inherited from Plato, according to which ordinary objects which are good, or beautiful, or whatever, owe their (limited) possession of these properties to the existence of a pure form in which they participate in, or reflect – a form which is itself perfectly good or beautiful.
Finally, the fifth Proof (often known as the ‘teleological argument,’ from the Greek telos, meaning ‘end’ or ‘goal’): Aquinas starts from the fact that even non-conscious objects often operate for the sake of some end or tend towards some goal. Such teleological behavior could not be manifested by things that lack awareness unless an intelligent being directed them – ‘and this we call God.’
The Character of God:
The Incommunicable Attributes of God are those attributes God does not share or communicate with others. Examples of incommunicable attributes are God’s eternity (God has existed for all eternity.
But human beings have not; unchangeableness (God does not change, but human beings do); omnipresence (God is everywhere, but all other created beings are present only in one place at one time). These attributes are better defined as attributes of God that are less shared by humans. Not one of God’s incommunicable attributes is complete without some likeness in the character of human beings.
Human beings do not change completely, for some aspects of human characters remain unchanged: individual identities and personality traits. Similarly, Human beings are subject to the limitations of time. However, there is some reflection of God’s eternity because the human soul lives forever to enjoy eternal life or eternal punishment. God’s incommunicable attributes are perhaps the most easily misunderstood because they represent aspects of God’s character that are least familiar to the human experience. The Incommunicable Attributes of God are:
1. Independence: (God does not need any of His creations for anything, yet all must glorify him and bring him joy). This attribute of God is, at times, called his self-existence or his aseity.
2. Unchangeableness: (God is unchanging in His being, perfections, purposes, and promises. Yet God does act and feel emotions, and he acts and feels differently in response to different situations.)[vii] This attribute of God is also called God’s immutability.
3. Eternity: (God has no beginning, end, or succession of moments in his being, and he sees all time equally vividly, yet God sees events in time and acts in time). This doctrine is sometimes called the doctrine of God’s infinity with respect to time.
4. Omnipresence: Just as God is unlimited or infinite concerning time, God is unlimited concerning space. God does not have size or spatial dimensions and is present at every point of space with his whole being, yet God acts differently in different places.
5. Unity: (God is not divided into parts, yet we see God’s different attributes emphasized at different times. This attribute of God is also called God’s simplicity, using simple in the less common sense of “not complex” or “not composed of parts.”
The Communicable Attributes of God are those attributes God shares or communicate with others. Examples of Communicable Attributes of God: Love (God is Love, and human beings can love as well), Knowledge (God knows, and human beings can know as well; Mercy (God is merciful, and human beings can be merciful too), and Justice (God is Just and human beings can be just).
Wayne Grudem divided God’s “Communicable” attributes in his Systematic Theology book [viii] into five major categories, with individual attributes listed under each category as follows:
Attributes describing God’s Being
- Knowledge (or Omniscience)
- Truthfulness (and Faithfulness)
- Mercy (Grace, Patience)
- Peace (or Order)
- Righteousness (or Justice)
Attributes of Purpose
- Omnipotence (or Power and Sovereignty)
- [i] Philosophy of Religion, fifth edition-Selected Readings, edited by Michael Peterson et al., (New York: Oxford University Press, 2014, 207-215
- [ii] Philosophy of Religion, 217
- [iii] Philosophy of Religion, 223
- [iv] John Cottingham, Western Philosophy: An Anthology, 2nd ed., Malden: Blackwell Publishing Ltd., 2008, 348
- [v] From Summa Theologiae (1266-73), Part 1, question 2, article 3. Translation by John Cottingham
- [vi] Aquinas reasons that ‘if anyone cause is taken away, the effect will also be absent. Hence if there were no first item in the series, there would be no intermediate items.’ It seems unfair since the defender of an infinite backward chain is not, as it were, ‘taking away the first item, but merely denying that if we trace the chain backward, it would ever terminate. Elsewhere, however, Aquinas concedes that we cannot prove that the world ever had a beginning, so it seems he has no logical objection to an infinite backward chain. So his point here may hinge on each effect’s dependence on its cause: for causation to operate at all, such a chain of dependent items requires an independent (uncaused) cause.
[vii] The four keywords (being, perfections, purposes, promise) used are taken from Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1939, 1941), 58. Cited in Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology (Nottingham: Inter-Varsity Press, 2015), 163
[viii] Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology (Nottingham: Inter-Varsity Press, 2015), 186
God’s Omnipotence And Sovereignty – Part One
The Existence of God / Concept of God
Arguments About God’s Existence:
Theism is depicted as believing in a God with unique attributes. The concept of God is fundamental to theism since the viability of theism must begin with the tradition of God’s concept. Most views about God fall into one of a relatively small number of types. Polytheism is the belief that there exists a plurality of personal gods. Polytheism is common among tribal peoples and is present in Greek and Nordic mythology. Henotheism recognizes a plurality of gods, but the henotheist restricts his allegiance to one God. Monotheism holds that only one God exists. God is understood as a personal Being, Supreme in power, knowledge, and moral worth; the creator of all existing beings.
Pantheism is often associated with some Hinduism varieties and other Eastern religions but is also common in the West. Pantheism holds that it is not proper to think of God as a personal being or a being of any kind. Panentheism says God is not identical to the universe but should be seen as including the universe. Dualism is a variation of polytheism; the dualist holds to a plurality of only two gods opposed to each other (One God is seen as good, and the other God is evil). Deism is a variation of monotheism (theism). Like the theist, the deist believes in one God but believes that this God does not involve himself in his creation. Absolute monism is a variation of pantheism or panentheism. The absolute monist holds that God is an absolute unity manifested in a less-than-fully-real world of plurality. Other views about God include the views that reject belief in God. Agnosticism holds that the truth about God cannot be or is not known.
Atheism denies the existence of God. Naturalism is a worldview that entails atheism. The naturalist does not believe in any supernatural realm behind nature. The theistic concept of God is the dominant view of God.
The three world’s Great Religions: Christianity, Judaism, and Islam uphold this concept of God. In the Judeo-Christian tradition, there is a well-defined list of characteristics seen as essential to God. The theistic God is conceived as a Supreme Being worthy of worship and the supreme object of religious devotion. Sorting through the difficulties surrounding the traditional attributes of the theistic God is such a fundamental problem that Richard Swinburne devotes approximately two-thirds of what many consider his seminal work, The Coherence of Theism, to explanation and defense of the coherence of His attributes. Although many disagreements among theists need to be explored, Swinburne’s view is typical of the traditional theistic concept of God, namely: “that there exists eternally an omnipresent spirit, free, creator of the universe, omnipotent, omniscient, perfectly good, and a source of moral obligation.” [i]
The Classical Ontological Argument – Saint Anselm[ii]
Saint Anselm (1033-1109) argues that if we understand God as a being, we cannot conceive a greater one. Yet, if we conceive of such a being as existing only in the understanding, a greater being could be conceived, namely one that also exists in reality. But this would be contradictory. Hence, God must exist as the being we cannot conceive of a greater. Anselm’s strategy is to move from the admission that we have the concept of the being that we cannot conceive a greater to the conclusion that we cannot understand God not to exist. Those who already believe that God exists now better understand God’s existence. In summary, Anselm says:
- That God Truly Exists
- That He cannot Be Thought Not To Exist, and
- How The Fool said In His Heart What Cannot be Thought.
A Contemporary Modal Version of the Ontological Argument – Alvin Plantinga[iii]
Alvin Plantinga (b.1932) first reviews and rejects Gaunilo’s objections to Anselm’s ontological argument. Gaunilo’s argument would work only with properties with an intrinsic maximum, but Gaunilo’s island’s unsurpassable properties have no intrinsic maximum: there could always be a greater. He then evaluates several versions of the ontological argument before developing his version. According to Plantinga, it is possible that some being has maximal greatness.
However, if a being has this property, it has it in every possible world. So, reasons Plantinga, if God may exist with this property, it is necessary that God exist. However, in the end, Plantinga remains skeptical of the ontological argument, for it requires that one accept the premise that a being with maximal greatness is possible.
The Classical Cosmological Argument – Thomas Aquinas[iv]
Thomas Aquinas (1224-1274) offers a deductive version of the cosmological argument. He states that we witness things in motion. For something to move, it must be moved by something else. That which moves things either is moved by another thing in motion or is itself unmoved (in which case an unmoved mover exists). The former option invokes an infinite regress of movers, which is impossible.
For one thing, it would involve moving an infinite number of things in a finite time. For another, if one removes the cause, one removes the effect. But an infinite series has no first cause and thus can have no effect. Finally, if all the causes are instrumental causes, there is no first cause to bring about the effect. Hence, there must be an unmoved mover, which religious believers understand to be God.
The Cosmological Argument from Contingency – Bruce R. Reichenbach[v]
Some theists claim that God’s existence best explains the existence of our contingent universe. Bruce Reichenbach (b.1943) explores the need for explanation, noting the defenses for versions of the Principles of Sufficient Reason and Causation. Whatever is contingent or comes into needs an explanation; the moderate version of the Principle of Sufficient Reason is what the cosmological argument must invoke to succeed.
After distinguishing scientific from personal explanation in terms of intention, he notes that theists have held that various things, including individual contingent things and the universe, require an explanation. He then presents a version of the cosmological argument from contingency and defends it against three serious objections. The first is that the universe is, the second is that one explains the whole by explaining the parts, and the third is that the argument’s conclusion is contradictory. In the end, Reichenbach suggests that a necessary being or God, to whom the Principle of Sufficient Reason is inapplicable, provides the best explanation in the cases he considers.
The Kalam Cosmological Argument – William Lane Craig[vi]
According to the Kalam cosmological argument developed by medieval Arabic philosophers, the universe had a cause for its existence because it had a beginning, and whatever has a beginning must have a cause. William Lane Craig (b. 1949) presents four arguments, two from philosophy and two from physics, to support the claim that the universe had a beginning. One philosophical argument shows that an actual infinite cannot exist because it leads to the absurdity that the whole is not greater than its part.
The other shows that if an actual infinite could exist, one could not traverse it, which would mean that one could not reach this particular point in time; in an infinite time, one would have already reached it. The dual supporting arguments from physics appeal to the Big Bang model of the universe’s origin to confirm the universe’s beginning. And according to the second law of thermodynamics, the universe has existed infinitely; by now, we should have already been gobbled up by black holes or suffered a “heat death.” In the end, Craig concludes that since the universe had a beginning, it was caused and that the cause had to be personal, not natural.
The Analogical Teleological Argument – William Paley[vii]
William Paley (1743-1805) notes that one would react differently to finding a watch than a stone. One would note its intricate means-ends structure on finding a watch, which suggests that it had an intelligent maker. Paley then notes that human and animal eyes also have means-ends ordering, indicating that nature also had an intelligent creator. That we have not seen watches or eyes made, that sometimes they do not work, that we do not know the functions of all their parts, or even that we can invoke laws governing them does not mitigate the argument’s force. Paley also notes that as we would reject mere natural explanations for the watch, so should we reject mere natural explanations for organs like eyes. Granted, there are defects in nature, but these are due to the causes of which we are ignorant, not God’s lack of knowledge.
The Anthropic Teleological Argument – Robin Collins[viii]
Robin Collins (b.1961) notes that there are many fine-tuning cosmic conditions, each of which is highly unlikely in and of itself, yet all are necessary to be conscious, knowing beings like ourselves. He also notes the beauty and elegance of natural laws. And the intelligibility and discoverability of the universe’s structure. One may appeal to either theistic or a naturalistic explanation in attempting to account for these features. Collins introduces the likelihood principle of confirmation, according to which observations are more probable under that hypothesis. Collins argues that since fine-tuning is much more probable under theism than under the naturalistic single-universe hypothesis, the principle implies that the evidence from fine-tuning supports the theistic rather than a naturalistic account of the origin of the universe. Even on the many universes model, which holds that it is likely that a significant number of habitable universes could exist, the existence of God provides a more probable explanation.
Not only are the many-universes models highly speculative, but even if such is possible, what generates the many universes has to be well designed to produce universes capable of harboring life. Again, theism provides a better explanation of the apparent design found in the resulting universes’ beauty and elegance than atheism does. The argument from fine-tuning, beauty, and discoverability is not intended to prove God’s existence. Or even show that God’s existence is likely; rather, it is intended to show that this universe’s features count as substantial evidence for God’s existence, making it considerably more plausible than naturalism.
A Moral Argument for God’s Existence – C. S. Lewis[ix]
C. S. Lewis (1898-1963) argues that we all know the difference between right and wrong and accordingly acknowledge that there is an objective Moral Law, a Law of (Human) Nature. We are all called to obey it, but we are not successful in keeping it. We have unique access to ourselves, and when we look within ourselves, we not only see that there is a law of Human Nature but that it indicates that someone or something wants and commands us to behave in a certain way. This somebody or something, which urges us to do right and makes us uncomfortable when we do wrong, is best understood as a Power that directs the universe.
- [i] Richard Swinburne, The Coherence of Theism, Revised Edition (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993) 99.
- [ii] Philosophy of Religion, fifth edition-Selected Readings, edited by Michael Peterson et al., (New York: Oxford University Press, 2014, 133
- [iii] Philosophy of Religion, 138
- [iv] Philosophy of Religion, 148
- [v] Philosophy of Religion, 151
- [vi] Philosophy of Religion, 161
- [vii] Philosophy of Religion, 177
- [viii] Philosophy of Religion, 187
- [ix] Philosophy of Religion, 197
Types & Effects of Child Abuse
Satan Is Not Omnipotent: A Philosophical Arguments (11)
Satan Is Not Omnipotent: A Philosophical Arguments (11)
Satan is Afraid of the Praying Christians:
The Power Of Prayer
Prayer is spiritual work, and human nature does not like taxing spiritual work. Human nature wants to sail to heaven under a favoring breeze, a full, smooth sea. Prayer is humbling work. It abases intellect and pride, crucifies vainglory, and signs our spiritual bankruptcy, and all these are hard for flesh and blood to bear. It is easier not to pray than to bear them. So we come to one of the crying evils of these times, maybe of all times—little or no praying. Little praying is make-believe, a salve for the conscience, a farce, and a delusion. Prayer is the method by which one communicates with God. “With confidence draw near to the Throne of Grace” – (Hebrews 4:16). During prayers, we bow our heads and hearts to God.
Through our prayers, we can enter into the labors of missionaries. It will be a tragic commentary on our lives when we refuse to invest our precious time in Prayer and intercession for others. Satan makes people doubt the effectiveness of Prayer. Christians have the unique privilege of speaking directly with the heavenly Father through Jesus Christ. Jesus wants believers to come confidently into His presence (Hebrews 4:16) and talk to Him about everything (Philippians 4:6). In John 16:24, Jesus gives us His Assurance of Answered Prayer.
John Wesley once said, “It seems that God is limited by our prayer life – that He can do nothing for humanity unless someone asks Him.” Through the use of our Prayer, we become the power of God for other men and women. God wants to give His insight into each situation, and He wants to give His Word for the moment, and Prayer is often how He does it.
There are four approaches to Prayer, which form the acronym ACTS
- Adoration is a reflection on God Himself. Human beings are to Praise Him for His love—His power, and majesty—His wonderful gift of Christ.
- Confession is admitting to God where you have sinned. Be honest and humble. Remember He knows you and loves you still.
- Thanksgiving is telling God how grateful you are for everything He has given—even the unpleasant things. Your thankfulness will help you see His purposes; and
- Supplication, this is making specific requests. Pray for others first, then for yourself.
Using this as a mental guide for Prayer helps one to maintain a balanced prayer life. In Warfare Prayer, there are four types:
- Defensive Prayer,
- Offensive Prayer,
- Prophetic prayer / Spiritual mapping, and
- Intercessory Prayer
Other types of Prayer:
- Prayer for the Nation (1 Tim. 2: 1-2)
- Prayer for Unbelievers (Lk 23: 42-43)
- Prayer for Justice (Ps 9; Hab 1: 1-14)
- Prayer for servants of God (2 Cor 1: 9-11)
- Prayer for the sins of the people (Ezra 9; 6-15)
- Prayer for deliverance (Hab. #: 1-19; Ex. 2: 23-25; 3: 7-10; 2 Kings 19: 15-19)
- Prayer for the course
- Prayer for families, relations, etc
- Prayer for the body of Christ
- Prayer for missionaries
- Prayer in Ministry (James 5: 13-18; John 14: 12-14; and Isaiah 64: 4
Prayer requires the Word Of God for effectiveness:
- Hear and Believe
- Read and Meditate
- Study and Apply
- Memorize and use
Satan Is Afraid Of Praying People:
- Prayer works, and it brings the power of God into our lives as disciples of Jesus.
- Praying people can resist the devil and defeat his purposes when they understand their authority in Christ (James 4: 7; 1 Peter 5: 8 9).
- Satan will not catch off guard those who watch and pray (Matt 26: 11)
- Prayer brings about God’s will and thwarts Satan’s will.
- Prayer brings us into a deeper relationship with God, which is the very thing Satan does not want! Therefore, Satan tries hard to wipe out our prayer life or make it ineffective. The tools he uses include distractions, temptations, ungodly thoughts, condemnation, the encouragement of doubt, fear and despair, etc.
The doctrine of Hell: The Abode of Satan
It is appropriate to highlight the doctrine of hell, which the Scriptures indicate as Satan’s abode at the final judgment. Hell is a place of eternal conscious punishment for the wicked and unrepentant sinners. At the end of the parable of the talents: the master says, “cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness; their men will weep and gnash their teeth.” (Matt. 25:30). Similarly, at the judgment, the king will say to some, “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil (Satan) and his angels.” (Matt.25:41), and Jesus says that those thus condemned “will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life” (Matt. 25:46).Jesus refers to hell as “unquenchable fire” (Mark 9:43). And says that hell is a place “where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched” (Mark 9:48).
Satan will be thrown into the lake of fire after the final rebellion is crushed (Rev. 20:10). Satan is the originator of sin and is always attempting to get others to sin. He always works to separate man from man (James 3: 13-17). Satan uses every trick in the book to get the man to sin (2 Cor. 2:11; 1 Tim. 3:7; 2 Tim. 2:26). He possesses wisdom, cunning, and craftiness in his attempts (2 Cor. 11:3; Eph. 4:14; 1 Pet. 5:8; Eph. 6:11).
Satan will always lie, deceive and mislead (John 8:44; Rev. 12:9). He never gives up his efforts to cause the man to stumble (Luke 4:13; Rev. 7:21; Mark 4: 14). His most effective method has always been to attempt to get the man to doubt God and His Word (Gen. 3: 1-4; Matt. 4:3). This is the method he is using with most people today.
Satan attempted to destroy the means whereby God provided for saving man by attempting to have Jesus killed when he was born (Matt. 2: 13-15). When he could not accomplish this, he attempted to cause Jesus to fail in His mission (Matthew chapter four). Satan repeatedly attempted to cause Jesus’s disciples to compromise their principles (an activity that continues to this day). To some degree, he has always been successful in causing Jesus’s disciples to stumble. Satan is so deluded that he thought he could destroy Jesus’ purpose for coming to this earth (Phil. 2: 5-12) until Jesus’ death on the cross (John 13:27; Luke 22:53).
Satan has sought to destroy the church of Christ (Matt. 16:18-19) and hinder its efforts to seek to bring men to God and keep them saved. He has been somewhat successful in doing this through persecution (Matt. 13:20, 21; Rev. 2:10; Acts 8: 1-4); by bringing false teachers into the church (Eph. 4:14; 1 Tim. 4: 1-3; 2 Tim. 4: 1-3); by causing the church to lose its focus (Rev. 3: 15, 16); by causing division in the church through those who will not look to the Scriptures for authority (1 Cor. 1:10).) But above all, the Christians should remember Satan’s eternal destiny, and his abode is “Hell.”
Satan’s Lack Of Omnipotence:
An Argument of a philosopher-theologian
In my book are arguments of theists and atheists on God’s existence. This author, as a philosopher-theologian, is not just a theist but a strong theist who believes without a doubt in the existence of an all-powerful, all-knowing, all-good, uncreated Being; and Omnipotent God.
Satan, on the other hand, is a created being and evil personified. In symbolic white and black, while God is white, Satan is black. Satan is not omnipotent, not all-powerful, or all-knowing as a created being. I proceed thus to Satan’s lack of omnipotence:
Point 1: Satan moves from place to place as a created being; roaming around to do evil; therefore, he is not omnipotent.
Point 2: Sin came to the world via Satan’s temptation of Eve in the garden of Eden; so sin is a nature of Satan, like evil is also his nature; therefore, he is not omnipotent.
Point 3: Satan is not a creator and cannot create another world. Also, he cannot show mercy because that is not his nature; therefore, he is not omnipotent.
Point 4: All things are not possible for Satan, and he cannot make the impossible possible or vice-versa. Therefore he is not omnipotent.
Point 5: In Matt. 28:18, Jesus says, “All Power has been given to him.” Satan does not hold all power or all authority; therefore, he is not omnipotent.
Point 6: God is said to be omnipotent with active power, which Satan lacks; therefore, he cannot be omnipotent.
Point 7: Satan has no power to forgive sins. To sin is to fall short of a perfect action; hence, sin is to fall short in action, which is repugnant to omnipotence. Therefore, Satan is the embodiment of sin and cannot be omnipotent.
In conclusion, God’s omnipotence is particularly shown in sharing and having mercy because it is made manifest that God has supreme power. Satan, the created Being is in the realm of inferior causes and does not possess superior power; hence Christians do not need to fear Satan. Only God, the Supreme Power needs to be feared.
Satan cannot act without the permission of human free will. So evil is due to human free will. God is a Being with maximal greatness, for no one created or begot Him. Satan, on the other hand, is a creation of God. So Satan cannot claim the same greatness as his creator. Hence Satan Is Not Omnipotent.
I believe that Satan is the instigator of evil and a real spirit being, not merely the personification of evil. Satan is a fallen angel who has been given temporary rulership of the earth under the sovereign permission of God. Satan was defeated at the cross, but God’s judgment was postponed until after the Millennial Kingdom was cast into the eternal lake of fire. In the meantime, Satan deceives the world and seeks to establish his counterfeit kingdom on earth to discredit and blaspheme God and tempt, accuse, attack, and destroy believers. The believer can resist him through faith and reliance on the power of the Holy Spirit (Gen. 3:1-5; Is. 14:12-17; Ezek. 28:11-19; Job 1-2; 1 John 5:19; 2 Cor. 11:14; 1 Tim. 3:6; 1 Pet. 5:8-9; James 4:7; Rev. 12:9, 20:1-3, 7-10).
Believers’ Must Know and Understand That Satan is NOT Omnipotent & NOT Sovereign!
** I will start another series On Saturday, September 24, 2022, titled God’s Omnipotence And Sovereignty.
Satan Is Not Omnipotent: A Philosophical Arguments (10)
Satan Is Not Omnipotent: A Philosophical Arguments (10)
Satan Is Not Omnipotent & Not Sovereign
Satan is not omnipotent! Satan is not omniscient! And Satan is not omnipresent!
Satan cannot claim the same greatness as God, his creator, and hence Satan is not omnipotent. Understood as a power to act, perhaps upon others or oneself, omnipotence is an internal or external relation. Given that omnipotence is predicated on persons only in God’s case, it appears that it must be an internal relation. God is a being with maximal greatness, for no one created Him. In Philosophical arguments, God is known as the ‘First Cause,’ ‘First Mover’; ‘Intelligent Designer’; ‘First Unmoved Mover’; ‘Necessary of Itself’; ‘intelligent Being,’ and so on.
Satan was a created being, an angel, judged because of his rebellion. According to 1 Timothy 3: 6, Satan was sparked by his pride. He is responsible for introducing evil to the world. A created being cannot be like or greater than the creator. The most explicit passage in the Bible about Satan is in Rev. 12: 7-9:
And there was war in heaven, Michael and his angels waging war with the dragon. And the dragon and his angels waged war, and they were not strong enough and no longer found a place for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. Rev. 12: 7-9 (NASB). Satan is invested with a specific vicious and malignant character. Still, it has no power to act without divine permission being first obtained and, therefore, cannot be regarded as the embodiment of the power that opposes God. Christians should never underestimate Satan, but he can be overcome in the name of Jesus Christ, who has absolute authority in the heavens and earth (Matt. 28:18).
Satan is nowhere near God.
God is omnipotent. He is all-powerful, omniscient: He is all-knowing. God is omnipresent: He is present everywhere. The devil, in sharp contrast, does not reflect these divine attributes. Satan is mighty, more than any man, and more potent than most angels. But he is not anywhere near to being the equal of God. Satan’s knowledge is limited, and he cannot know all human beings’ thoughts. And while God can be everywhere simultaneously, Satan can be in only one place at a time. However, he does not work alone. He has his minions, his demon forces that do his devilish work (Ephesians 6:10-12).
Satan can do nothing in the life of a faithful Christian without God’s permission.
While God may allow demonic attacks in your life, you are still under God’s divine protection. In the book of Job, the account of Satan being among the angels coming to present themselves before the Lord is recorded. God said to him, “From where do you come?” (Job 1: 7). Satan answered, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it.” Satan pointed out the hedge of protection God had placed around Job, his household, and everything he owned. A Christian can be oppressed to some degree, but neither the devil nor a demon can ever take control of his life. When you place your faith in Jesus Christ, you are under His protection (the protection of blood).
Satan knows this and must back off. Instead, the devil will try to lure you out of God’s protection and draw you into his web of deception. The objective of a child of God is to stay as close to the Lord as possible. And keep as much distance between himself and the devil. The difference between Satan’s accusations and the Holy Spirit’s conviction is that Satan will always drive you away from the cross, while Jesus will always bring you to it.
The devil was soundly defeated at the cross of Calvary
Colossians 2:15 say, “Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.” At Calvary, the devil lost his foothold and stranglehold on the life of human beings.
Satan is Not Omnipotent.
He has great power—more than any man and most angels—but he is not near our God’s equal. As mentioned, he must seek God’s permission before he can even do certain things.
Satan is Not Omniscient.
He has a powerful intellect and knows many things from experience (far more than people), but only God is all-knowing.
Satan is Not Omnipresent.
Satan is an individual personality, so he can be in only one place at a time (Job 1:7). So when someone says that the devil is tempting them, more than likely, it is Satan’s power working through his network of demons.
Ways One Gives Authority To Demons:
It is possible to permit demons into one’s body, and the ways one gives authority to demons to enter one’s body and operate are through:
The worship of Satan is as old as man on earth, known as worldliness or Satanism.
Satan worship is found in various ways, such as black magic, black mass, and all facets of drug culture. All forms of idol worship and blood sacrifices have their roots in Satanism.
Baby dedications are performed when a child is born, whether to the living God or a lesser deity. Baby Jesus was dedicated to the Almighty God. (Luke 2: 22 – 23.):
When the time of their purification according to the law of Moses had been completed, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord.
The unbelievers dedicate their children to Satan, demons, gods, water spirits, or other lesser deities. When a child or baby in the womb is dedicated to these gods’ service, the demon spirits are assigned the task of ensuring the child remains in their custody all of their life. Sometimes these children are dedicated to special festivals, unique ceremonial or market days’ deities or gods. This dedication can only be broken when such a person comes to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. The demon spirits then see that person as a traitor, and consequently, the demon spirits then activate a curse of destruction in their life.
Idol worship is fellowship with demons. Sacrifices made to idols are made to demons, and these demons inhabit the bodies of their followers. Most ancestral curses originate from idol worship.
Occult involvement means obeying the teachings of demons. These include performing rituals, re-counting incantations, keeping or using charms, using demoniac powers, casting spells, reading occult literature/publications, magical arts & practices, witchcraft, divination, and sorcery. All these types of occultism invite demons into the bodies of practitioners. Acts 19: 19 says, “A number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly. When they calculated the value of the scrolls, the total came to fifty thousand drachmas.”
A Psychic is susceptible to psychic influences like a medium, fortuneteller, and divination. Divination is a pagan counterpart of Christian prophecies, and divination is my demon power (it is Satanic). The Bible classifies false prophets and diviners as one.
Behind every sin is a Spirit. If you continue in sin, then you give authority to demon operations in your life.
Curses can result in demoniac activities and can affect generations of families.
Anger, Jealousy, hatred, envy, and other vices can open a doorway to evil spirits, thereby possessing your body.
Wrong teachings come through the doctrines of the demons and those open ways to evil spirits.