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.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

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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Blogger Gregg said...

I am thinking on this carefully rather that reacting. I don't think you are right on this one.

First, our fully-sufficient God has no needs. I agree, God is not dependent on anything or anyone nor does He need anyone nor anything. I would add that nothing can be added to God nor taken away from God.

Second, why does love need an object? God can possess an attribute of love because it is part of His perfection. I do not think God needed an object to be characterized by love.

Third, I do agree that love is certainly realized in the Trinity. Perfect love from all of eternity.

Fourth, if you are not careful this can get away from you. For example, God is a God of wrath - did He need an object for His Wrath? God is Holy - does He need an object to demonstrate, reflect, contrast, or highlight his holiness?

Fifth, God can use anything "line of thinking" He chooses, I do not mean to be critical of yours, but I do not think that a JW or non-trinitarians will be persuaded by the fact that the Trinity loved each other simply because God is love. I am not opposed to trying it and if it does work praise God, and I am not normally a "nay-sayer."

I just think this borders on making God need something even if it is fulfilled within Himself.

Just carefully reading your post and thinking on it, not trying to criticize it.

8:05 AM  
Blogger The Wittenberg Door said...

Greetings, Gregg. I think our disagreement is slight, mostly being about love needing an object. Although I think you might have found a chink in my argument’s armor, I’m not convinced of it. I’m not sure how meaningful it is to talk about an attribute that isn’t exercised. You offer wrath as one example, but God’s wrath isn’t an attribute—It’s an extension of both his holiness and his justice. Do you have another example?

What do you mean by “God can use anything ‘line of thinking’ He chooses”?


8:53 AM  

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