all-good AND all-powerful?

This is the first edit of something I have been working through over the past few weeks. It is a result of some reading, some questioning, and stepping out into some frightful non-Reformed territory. I realize that it's written structure is not the best. I also realize that my ideas are new only to me, in the sense that they have not been voiced together in this way before now. I also know that God is ultimately a mystery, a vast unexplorable Other. Rather than doctrine, I think these are my hopes about God in a post-Holocaust world.

These thoughts were mine, now they are ours, have at them...

To say that God is all-good, that God’s initial aims for human relatedness are meant to mirror the love, respect and care that God has for humanity, excludes a traditional idea that God is all-powerful. To be all-powerful is to be capable of all possible forms of interaction, forms that run the gamut of good and evil, forms of interactions from freedom to control. Therefore, if God is all-good, that is God is ultimately concerned with interactions that reveal the loving, respectful, and caring nature of God, then God cannot have the power to intentionally inflict pain and suffering, or acts of evil, through human interactions with self, other and the world. God cannot will these types of interactions, because it is beyond God’s absolute loving nature, even though God must ultimately function within a reality where these types of interactions are prevalent due to the inability of humanity to effectively relate God’s aims in their interactions. God’s all-powerfulness, or omnipotence, is limited proactive and reactive interactions that reveal love, respect and care in the world either through a possibility initiated by God or a possibility offered as a reaction to evil acts committed by human beings.

We can say that God is all-good and all-powerful inasmuch as acts of care, respect and love occur when humans interact in such a manner. Such acts reveal the nature and power of God and God’s activity in human history. Moreover, acts of care, respect and love are at their most powerful when they are reactions to or usurpations of acts of evil. God’s power lies in the ability to contrast God’s absolute good nature with the changing landscape of human interactions that ultimately miss an aimed for mark creating an evil result. Any time a human being contrasts an act of evil with an act of love, care or respect, God’s ultimate power and goodness is known and felt. Power has too often been associated with force, coercion or control. We must begin to think of power differently if we wish to apply it to God. Instead, I believe that if we wish to apply the term power to God, then we must begin to define it by God’s ability to act effectively within the parameters of God’s commitment to goodness and human freedom.

Before elaborating further on the effectiveness of God, human freedom must be understood. If God is coercive then human beings have no freedom. Moreover, God’s actions are in the present. The implication of God as the great “I AM” helps us understand how God sees God’s self interacting with humanity. The eternal nature of God is bound to the distinction that God makes for God’s self. God is timeless in as much as time has occurred. God is the God of ancestors, and the God of the moment that occurs for all of humanity. God’s future knowledge is bound to the eschaton, an event that stands outside the scope of human events. The relationship between God’s active possibilities in the present and human freedom to choose whether or not we will listen to these possibilities is troublesome for those who posit God as outside of time. For humans to have freedom, God cannot ordain the choices we make. Moreover, God cannot know which choice we will act upon; to do so is to insinuate that God foreordains evil acts that we commit on a daily basis.

God’s covenant is to continue in relationship with humanity, and God does so be offering pro- and re- active possibilities in order to continue effectively relating to the world through God’s goodness. God is a revealer of possibilities, that is God offers possibilities of interactions leading to loving, respectful, or caring outcomes that mix with the possibilities created through a particular human being’s own creative visions of interactions based on past and present experiences. Thus human freedom is assured, as the human may choose any of the multitudes of possibilities in front of them regardless of the possible outcomes. Moreover, because of God’s eternal relatedness to human history, God continues to offer possibilities related to the choices and experiences of human beings, even sympathizing and/or celebrating the outcomes of interactions.

God’s power is related to the ultimate effectiveness of the possibilities God offers to any particular human being; God can be said to be ultimately powerful because God’s possibilities are ultimately effective. Evil possibilities and actions are the domain of humanity. They are the result of the freedom to interpret a possibility, an inability carry out God’s possibilities or even an intentional ignoring of the possibilities that God offers through any given situation.



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