If He Chooses to Do So

David Cowles

Oct 14, 2021

My previous ‘thought’ concerned God’s dual role as ‘Creator of heaven and earth’ and ‘comrade-in-arms’. Further reflections:

How can God be the creator of a radically free universe and yet play a role in the evolution of that universe? The answer lies in standing an old proverb (‘Man proposes, God disposes’) on its head. In fact, it is God who proposes but ‘man’ (i.e., worldly events) that disposes. Consider God’s words in Deuteronomy (30:19): “I set before you life and death (God proposes). Therefore, choose life. (Man disposes)”

My previous ‘thought’ concerned God’s dual role as ‘Creator of heaven and earth’ and ‘comrade-in-arms’. Further reflections:


How can God be the creator of a radically free universe and yet play a role in the evolution of that universe? The answer lies in standing an old proverb (‘Man proposes, God disposes’) on its head. In fact, it is God who proposes but ‘man’ (i.e., worldly events) that disposes. Consider God’s words in Deuteronomy (30:19): “I set before you life and death (God proposes). Therefore, choose life. (Man disposes)”


This is also a solution to the famous ‘Problem of Evil’ (how can a good and omnipotent God tolerate evil in the world?). It is often said that my freedom extends only as far as the tip of your nose. Likewise, God’s omnipotence extends only as far as the edge of his creation.


Beyond that edge God is a free actor among other free actors. In the dual acts of Creation and Incarnation, God sacrifices his omnipotence in order to share in the lot of mortals (pathos).

It is important to note that this sublimation of power on God’s part is entirely voluntary; it does not diminish his omnipotence in any way. In fact, it is an expression of it. God chooses to place limits on his omnipotence so that he can be a true Creator and a ‘fellow traveler’.


Remember the old adolescent paradox, “Can God make a stone so heavy that he cannot lift it?” Well, surprisingly, that paradox turns out to have an answer after all: “Yes, if he chooses to do so.”

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