Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Limitations of God -- God Logic III

 I occasionally get into discussions with people who question why God allows bad things to happen, but it’s not a difficult question if you consider the limitations of God.

Blasphemy, anyone?  Dare we limit God?  We couldn’t, of course.  We humans have struggled for 5,000 years to mold our measly minds around the absoluteness of God, let alone pin Him down enough to shove Him into a box of our making.

He limits Himself. And no, the use of the masculine pronoun does not indicate the presence of a divine penis.  “She” carries even more gender baggage than “he,” and “it” denies the personhood of God and we’re right back to graven images.  So let's get over it.

God limits Himself with His perfections.  I know of ten, and these attributes are limited only by His other attributes. Let’s look at these absolutes:
  • God is power, sovereignty;  He is the King of Kings (Psalm 83:18)*.  OK then, why can ‘t He do anything He wants? Let’s look –
  • God is also perfect goodness, and if He is to maintain that, then He’s limited to doing only good things (Psalm 145:17).  But can’t He change and be bad for a while?
  • God is unchangeable (Hebrews 1:12).  Hmm, so he’s stuck with goodness.
  • God is perfect justice  (Hebrews 10:31).  So He’s limited to being fair and not just now and then. Always.  And He can’t change that, either.
  • God is love (John 3:16). But what about His justice?  God cannot say, “There, there, now.  It’s all right.  I’ll let you get away with it this time.” Not if His justice is perfect.  Oh dear.  
  • God is omniscient (Proverbs 3:19). This is useful if you have to be perfectly fair.  It helps to know the facts.   This attribute isn’t limiting; it allows the other attributes to function.
  • God is omnipresent (Job 34:21,22); He is not limited by space.  Man has spent most of his existence trying to circumvent space.  God doesn’t have to.
  • God is eternal (Exodus 3:14). He is not confined by time.  He always was and always will be. For God the future has no surprises or uncertainties, which aides His omniscience.
  • God is truth (Deuteronomy 32:4). He is limited by His inability to lie.  Because He’s omniscient He knows the future and the past in perfect detail; He can’t even claim ignorance or error.
  • God is omnipotent (Genesis 17:1).  We’re back to power again, only this isn’t a matter of authority. It’s power in the physical sense of the word.  There’s nothing God doesn’t have the power to do.  However, there’s justice and righteousness and love and truth and immutability to consider. 

The interconnections between the perfections of God, and the relationship of the three members of the trinity, one with another, have produced the envelope of grace that is available to us all.

* Check out this web site for more Biblical references and explanation of what is called the Essence of God. <>


  1. Dee, outstanding job of capturing and summarizing the Essence of God; however, I'd like you to go one step further and explain why he "allows" bad things (aka, evil) to happen although He is indeed all powerful, all knowing, all loving. Is it simply because He cannot tolerate the presence of evil, and thus, has turned this world over to the Prince of Darkness until His return? Please elaborate on why His impeccable character would allow this evil to be in control of the world...for now. (yes, I am setting you up:)

  2. You sure did. :-) Evil goes back to the Angelic Conflict and the Fall of Man. Because of God's love and perfect righteousness He set up a solution for Evil in the sacrificial death of His Son -- "Whosoever believes on him shall have life.." You've opened a huge can of worms, but I won't lack a topic for next week. Thanks for playing along. This is so much fun.

  3. "why he "allows" bad things (aka, evil) to happen although He is indeed all powerful, all knowing, all loving"

    How can we know blessing without suffering?

  4. Yes, that contrast may be necessary. I'm also impressed by this paradox: in order to show us that blessing can happen mid-suffering, to demonstrate that He is able to do that for us, He has to allow that suffering to happen. Some of my most astounding blessings have occurred in the throes of awful miseries. I think we often assume that unhappiness automatically goes with suffering. Not so.

  5. Hi, Deana. Just found your comment. You're welcome to link to the letter to the President.

    I noticed your verse on the sidebar; I like it. And there's a couple or three attributes right there, don't you think? :)

  6. I appreciate you getting back to me. I post a new piece at the beginning of each week. I'll link to your piece at that time.

    And yes, thanks for noticing the applicability of Genesis verse. dc

  7. Focusing on these wonderful attributes of our God always puts things in the proper perspective for me. Thanks for the post.

    I appreciated your sweet comments about my blog, Life Lessons.Thanks for answering the question, too. You're right that loving someone is easy when they please you, or do something that benefits you. On the other hand, choosing to love someone and not expecting anything in return is the true essence of love! Have a beautiful weekend filled with God's love!

    *So glad I found the link to Charles Clough's Bible Framework on your sight - I ordered my DVD's yesterday! :)

  8. Maria -- You'll love Clough's teaching -- talk about applying what we learn; he's excellent at making those connections. Enjoy.

    And thanks so much for showing up here -- I love having company. dc