The Omnipotence Paradox and the Festive Season
Have you ever been asked the question “if God is so powerful that he can do anything, can he create a rock that is too heavy for him to lift?”
It’s a logic game, and the reasoning goes like this:
God, if he exists, is omnipotent [can do anything],Therefore, there can be nothing that he cannot do. If something can be found that God cannot do, then he is either not omnipotent and not really God, or he does not exist. If God an create a rock that God cannot lift, then there is something he cannot do [lift the rock]. If he cannot create such a rock, then there is something he cannot do [create the rock] therefore, in either case, he is not omnipotent, and not really God or he does not exist.
A lot of people consider this argument to be fair reason to disbelieve God’s existence entirely.
When we say there is nothing God cannot do, what do we really mean? We tend to think of omnipotence as a big thing, that there is no grandiose display of power that God is not capable of. Are we still prepared to say that in the face of this argument? If God cannot create a massive rock that is too big for himself to lift with his immense power, what then? Can we say there are a few things that God cannot do? Is he still God if he is unable to do some things we can think up?
There is one significant problem with this whole argument, at least as far as the Christian faith is concerned, and it has to do with Christmas. A key part of Christian theology is the incarnation. Though it might sound like a kind of flower you give on mother’s day, incarnation can be simplified to in-flesh-ment. It means that God became flesh (see John 1:14). Jesus was called “Immanuel” which means God with us.
The incredible wonder of the Christmas message is this: that God demonstrated a power we wouldn’t have guessed he had. He limited himself. He put aside his omnipotence and became a baby. The same God we know who created the universe with a word became an infant who couldn’t speak. The God who flung the stars became a child who couldn’t coordinate his fingers sufficiently to pick up a very small stone.
Jesus is the God who created a very small rock and then made himself incapable of lifting it.
Truly he is omnipotent.
Glory to God and Merry Christmas to you all.