f The Wittenberg Door: God’s Aseity, Self-sufficiency, and Love—A Contradiction?

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Commenting on Christendom, culture, history, and other oddities of life from an historic Protestant perspective.

Monday, September 11, 2006

God’s Aseity, Self-sufficiency, and Love—A Contradiction?


Two of God’s incommunicable attributes (belonging to God alone) are His aseity (self-existence, John 5:26) and His self-sufficiency (Psm. 50:12-13). His name “El Shaddai” (God all-sufficient, Gen. 17:1, 2) signifies these attributes. Being the great “I Am” (Ex. 3:14), God’s existence is not dependent on anything or anyone, nor does He need anything or anyone.

We also find in Scripture that God is love (1 John 4:8), meaning that He is characterized by love. This poses an interesting question when the previous two perfections are considered. Here’s what I mean: Love requires an object. It’s not possible to love something or someone unless there is something or someone to love. Let’s put this in a simple syllogism (a deductive argument where the conclusion is inferred from the supporting propositions):

God is love. Love needs an object. Therefore, God needs an object for His love.

The argument is valid (it's structured properly) and sound (the premises—supporting propositions—are true). Therefore, by force of logic, the conclusion is inescapable: God needs something. So how does this square with His aseity and self-sufficiency?

The Trinity

The Father loves the Son, the Son loves the Spirit, and vise versa all around, and this from all eternity. This cannot be said of anything else, for all else is created by God (Gen. 1:1). Hence, the doctrine of the Trinity is the only explanation that avoids contradiction.

So next time you speak with a Jehovah’s Witness, Oneness Pentecostal, or anyone else of the non-Trinitarian stripe, give this line of reasoning a whirl.

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4 Comments:

Blogger Ol'Geezer said...

Let me suggest how I, if I were a non-trinitarian, would respond to your syllogism: Considering God's aseity and self-sufficiency, then before creation the object of God's love was himself. This doesn't require an eternal existing Son nor a personal Spirit. Following creation there could be (are) other objects of God's love. And too, we have to consider types of God's love, e.g., salvific love for specific men vs. a general love for all men.

I think the problem with the syllogism lies with the words "requires" and "needs". Replace these with "has" and the conclusion to the syllogism is "God has an object for His love." This eliminates the connotation that God needs something and therefore is not self-sufficient. But, this change doesn't counter my prposed non-trinitarian response.

How say you?

6:44 AM  
Blogger The Wittenberg Door said...

Thanks, ol’ geezer, for your comment. Here’s my response: What do we call a person who is his own object of love? A narcissist. Narcissism is a vice, not a virtue. Since God’s own character is the standard of morality, self-love cannot be the answer.

Good, thoughtful challenge, though. Thanks.

12:33 PM  
Blogger Ol'Geezer said...

No, we don't call every person who is the object of his love a narcissist. That term applies to sinful human person but it is a categorical error to put God in that category since he is the holy person. It is fitting for God to be the object of his love. Just as there was no greater for God to swear by, he swore by himself (Heb. 6:13). Of course, as before, God does have other objects of his love. So, in my role as a non-trinitarian, what do you say now?

2:54 PM  
Blogger The Wittenberg Door said...

Thanks for coming back, Ol’ Geezer. I’ll give answering you a shot:

we don't call every person who is the object of his love a narcissist

To whom are you referring?

That term applies to sinful human person but it is a categorical error to put God in that category since he is the holy person. It is fitting for God to be the object of his love.

Either narcissism is wicked or it’s not. Of course this applies to God too since His own character is the standard. Therefore, like lying or deceiving—other things the Scriptures say God can’t do—he cannot be a narcissist if it’s wicked.

Just as there was no greater for God to swear by, he swore by himself (Heb. 6:13).

The reason God cannot swear beyond Himself is because He is the standard and enforcer of justice. I don’t see how this relates to the topic at hand.

Of course, as before, God does have other objects of his love.

Before God engaged in His created activities, nothing else existed. If nothing else existed, there is nothing else to love.

11:21 AM  

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