HOT TOPIC: God's Nature vs His Character

michael_legna's picture

In another thread we veered off ending up discussing the Nature of God esepcially His omniscience and omnipotence.

I hold that God is ALL powerful and ALL knowing and He just chooses not to do somethings and to not know certain things when it suits His plans.

The other side of the argument is that there are certain things God cannot do, like sin. That it is not just Him choosing to not sin but that He is completely incapable of sin, that it is an actual limit to His omnipotence and omniscience.

This thread is meant to give all an opportunity to present arguments for either side.

I will begin by posting a few responses to the last few posts of one other poster in the previous thread.

michael_legna's picture

Infinite free will and infinite goodness can co-exist

JeffLogan said -
I had said, "Since God is sovereign He gets to define what is truth and what is right. He has chosen to make Himself the standard. And, He reveals Himself to mankind in word and deed so that all may judge. And the judgment will be, "Thou are worthy...Holy, Holy, Holy!""

ML said -
"But now you argue against yourself by saying God chooses to act the way He does. You started out by claiming he had no choice (that it was His nature) and now you say He chooses to make Himself the standard. By doing so he defines sin and truth, He does not have sin and truth define His nature."

JeffLogan said -
I said nothing about God choosing to act. I said He has chosen to make Himself the standard. His character is the standard of righteousness and truth. There's a big difference.

It is not that big if it exists because I do not immediately see what you distinction is. To decide what is truth is to decide how to to act or not. If you have no ability to control your actions then there is no possible response to truth or falsehood and thus they become irrelevant to you. To put it another way, since God's character (what causes Him to choose to act as He does) is unwaivering, then His choice to define truth in a certain way defines how He will act, because His character will always decide in a way so as to be truthful. However if it is nature which strips Him of all choice in the matter as how to act then He could not have even chosen to decide what truth is or is not because His nature would naturally fall to one side or the other in any given issue and would do so beyond His control because it is His nature. So I do not buy the idea that choosing what truth is is complete separate from how to act.

JeffLogan said -
It's hard to give a secular analogy because nothing but God is perfect. Man once was. Nature once was. But neither are any more.

No, mand and nature were good but they were never perfect. Perfect, as only God is perfect, implies not just perfection in ones essence but also that t one's essence is all encompassing. Again I am paraphrasing the extensive logical arguments contained in the summa so I cannot do the issue justice here but I hope you see what I mean. God is not just perfect in one aspect of anything but all His aspects are perfect and all work perfectly together and all extend to the furthest reaches of the concept that they entail without limitations. We do not have to understand how this is possible that infinite mercy and infinite justice for example can co-exist but they do. So too can an infinite free will and infinite goodness, such that the ability to sin and the refusal to do so are not contradictory.

JeffLogan said -
But I guess I could use the example of water. Water does not choose to be wet, nor does it try to be. Its very nature is to be wet. And wet, btw, is simply a word we use to describe one of water's characteristics. We have chosen to assign those three letters in that particular combination and sequence to denote an attribute of water. So too, God doesn't choose, nor try, to be good, He is Good. And what He is defines goodness.

The problem with this analogy is that water did not choose to define what wet means and God does choose to define what good means. Water is inanimate and God is animate. Water has no free will and God does have free will, and His free will is perfect - without limitations.