The Attributes of God- Unit 4
Many attributes are often applied to God such as: omnipotence, omniscience, omni-benevolence, immutability, immanence, transcendent and eternal.
These are often paradoxical for example:
· God as transcendent – he is separate from the physical world and is unchanged by time and space.
· God as immanent – he is active and involved within the world (this counters the idea of immutability as if God is involved, he must be changed by space and time).
Even if immutability can still exist with immanence, how can God be both immanent and transcendent? This is a paradox.
1. God as TIMELESS – Catholic view that God exists separately from time and space and sees the past, present and future at the same time. Time does not affect God.
“Thy years neither come and go whereas ours both come and go” St. Augustine
It is easier therefore to say that God is immutable as if he exists outside of time and space, he cannot change.
· The idea of time not applying to God contradicts the bible “promising” and “remembering”.
· The Catholic view of an all loving God is difficult to fit in with a timeless God due to the problems of evil as God seems too far removed.
2. God as EVERLASTING - The protestant view- God moves with creation and time with no beginning or end.
· This is a common 21st Century view from those who have not studied philosophy.
· He exists. He always did exist. He always will exist.
“...no time at which he did not exist...he is backwardly eternal. He also exists at any other nameable time... will exist forever... he is forwardly eternal.” Richard Swinburne
Oscar Cullman – We must understand God as everlasting. Eternal means “endless duration” not “outside of time”.
· If God was in time and moved with it, wouldn’t he prevent suffering?
· We change when we experience bad things and there are bad things in the world so why doesn’t God change?
3. Process theology – God moves throughout time and space with us and changes as we do.
A.N. Whitehead and Charles Hartshorne
· God is affected by his interaction with the belief that he interacts and lives with us.
· He is still in the process of becoming
· God is in no sense omnipotent. But he has power.
PT- God is in the process of changing and becoming (goes against immutability).
Is God is all powerful? If he is, can he sin? Can God run if he has no body? Can God make a five sided triangle? Can he change the past?
Does praying for someone who is hurt or killed in an event that has just happened actually help anyone?