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Can G-d do anything?

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  • Can G-d do anything?

    The question often comes to me as to whether Hakodesh Baruch Hu הקב״ה(G-d) can do anything? Can G-d do anything no matter what it is?

    This question/issue came up in another thread and I wanted to have a discussion/debate on the matter. As Jews we firmly believe that G-d is self limited to doing what is possible, not what is impossible. Some would say that this is limiting G-d but to the contrary this is merely stating that G-d imposes His own limits on what He can and will do. G-d could not make himself not be G-d. He cannot destroy Himself and he cannot suddenly become evil or develope amnesia. Maimonides, one of our greatest rabbis, summed this up pretty well.

    Maimonides: Guide for the Perplexed 3:15

    The "impossible" has a stable nature, one whose stability is constant and is not made by a maker; it is impossible to change it in any way. Hence, we do not ascribe to G-d the power of doing what is impossible. No thinking man denies the truth of this maxim, and none ignore it – except for those who have no understanding of logic . . . Likewise it is impossible that G-d should produce a being like Himself, or destroy Himself, or make Himself physical, or change Himself – all of these things are in the category of the impossible, and cannot be attributed to G-d . . . It has become clear then that, according to every opinion and school, there are things which are impossible and which cannot exist. The power to bring about these impossible things cannot be ascribed to G-d. The fact that He cannot change them does not imply inability or deficiency of power on His part.

    Please discuss and debate. Enjoy!
    Last edited by Avraham Ibn Ezra; 06-23-2014, 11:32 AM.
    אברהם אבן עזרא

    Avraham Ibn Ezra

  • #2
    The question is not "Can he do anything" but "Will he do anything?"

    The rest is more a useful meditation on what is and is not considered possible in real life, and a great way of refining your way of speaking about logical categories (i.e., the difference between a Rock of Sufficient Size and square circles.)

    If you dwell too much on the question, you're probably just looking for loopholes, at which point it's best to say: "God can do anything He wants to YOU as far as you're concerned, best to find out what He wants."

    Comment


    • #3
      Can G-d do anything? No. G-d cannot cease being G-d.
      . . . the Gospel of Christ, for it is [the] power of God to salvation to every [one] believing, . . . -- Romans 1:16.

      . . . that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: . . . -- 1 Corinthians 15:3, 4.

      Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: . . . -- 1 John 5:1.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by 37818 View Post
        Can G-d do anything? No. G-d cannot cease being G-d.
        I assume you mean in the sense G-d will not sin or act unrighteously.
        "For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings." Hosea 6:6

        "Theology can be an intellectual entertainment." Metropolitan Anthony Bloom

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Avraham Ibn Ezra View Post
          The question often comes to me as to whether Hakodesh Baruch Hu הקב״ה(G-d) can do anything? Can G-d do anything no matter what it is?

          This question/issue came up in another thread and I wanted to have a discussion/debate on the matter. As Jews we firmly believe that G-d is self limited to doing what is possible, not what is impossible. Some would say that this is limiting G-d but to the contrary this is merely stating that G-d imposes His own limits on what He can and will do. G-d could not make himself not be G-d. He cannot destroy Himself and he cannot suddenly become evil or develope amnesia. Maimonides, one of our greatest rabbis, summed this up pretty well.

          Maimonides: Guide for the Perplexed 3:15

          The "impossible" has a stable nature, one whose stability is constant and is not made by a maker; it is impossible to change it in any way. Hence, we do not ascribe to G-d the power of doing what is impossible. No thinking man denies the truth of this maxim, and none ignore it – except for those who have no understanding of logic . . . Likewise it is impossible that G-d should produce a being like Himself, or destroy Himself, or make Himself physical, or change Himself – all of these things are in the category of the impossible, and cannot be attributed to G-d . . . It has become clear then that, according to every opinion and school, there are things which are impossible and which cannot exist. The power to bring about these impossible things cannot be ascribed to G-d. The fact that He cannot change them does not imply inability or deficiency of power on His part.

          Please discuss and debate. Enjoy!
          Obviously, God in the definition of Nicene Trinitarianism (where God=the Father), could not relate to his own creation of humankind. That is why he sent his only begotten Son to suss things out...

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Thoughtful Monk View Post
            I assume you mean in the sense G-d will not sin or act unrighteously.
            More that that: G-d cannot not be G-d. Cannot stop being G-d.
            . . . the Gospel of Christ, for it is [the] power of God to salvation to every [one] believing, . . . -- Romans 1:16.

            . . . that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: . . . -- 1 Corinthians 15:3, 4.

            Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: . . . -- 1 John 5:1.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by 37818 View Post
              More that that: G-d cannot not be G-d. Cannot stop being G-d.
              Got it. Thanks for clarifying.
              "For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings." Hosea 6:6

              "Theology can be an intellectual entertainment." Metropolitan Anthony Bloom

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by apostoli View Post
                Obviously, God in the definition of Nicene Trinitarianism (where God=the Father), could not relate to his own creation of humankind. That is why he sent his only begotten Son to suss things out...
                Explain more, please. I am not grasping why God could relate to His own creation without the Incarnation.
                "For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings." Hosea 6:6

                "Theology can be an intellectual entertainment." Metropolitan Anthony Bloom

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by apostoli View Post
                  Obviously, God in the definition of Nicene Trinitarianism (where God=the Father), could not relate to his own creation of humankind. That is why he sent his only begotten Son to suss things out...
                  I think it is more a matter that man (as the creation) can not have any real relationship with God without the incarnation. God is too far above us.
                  Micah 6:8 He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I'm not sure if God did more miracles (biblically speaking) with Israel, than he did with the house of Judah and the Promise of the Eternal Covenant made with Abraham and David (Jews and Gentiles that follow Christ).

                    The only maxim that I do not agree with is that He (God) will not or can not make something like him.

                    In the garden of eden the devil mocks adam and eve, saying that they will be like gods.

                    Many years later, David mocks the wicked, by with the rhetoric psalm about the wicked beings gods.

                    But, God declares that He has made us in His image.

                    And that is what it means to be like God (but we are by no means gods. What can we do to change His creation?).

                    We cannot create another earth or another heaven, or give an idol life; but we are like God. Commandments are there to show us that, even though we are like Him, we cannot save ourselves.

                    I agree with the logic that God will not make himself into NOT God, but I do not believe that he CANNOT do anything that He wants.

                    Again, this is logic. If you say He can do whatever He wants, that doesn't mean that He will ever attempt to not be the King of Heaven, it just means that He can do whatever He wants, whether we like it or not.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by 37818 View Post
                      More that that: G-d cannot not be G-d. Cannot stop being G-d.
                      God can do whatever He wants. He's God, but that doesn't mean He will ever stop being the King of Heaven and Earth.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Avraham Ibn Ezra View Post
                        The question often comes to me as to whether Hakodesh Baruch Hu הקב״ה(G-d) can do anything? Can G-d do anything no matter what it is?
                        1. Matthew 19:26
                        But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.
                        But with God all things are possible. How do we logically define “all things?” What provisions are made by scripture for “except this or that”

                        This question/issue came up in another thread and I wanted to have a discussion/debate on the matter. As Jews we firmly believe that G-d is self limited to doing what is possible, not what is impossible.
                        Based upon what presumption does man attempt to define “what is possible and what is impossible.
                        Some would say that this is limiting G-d but to the contrary this is merely stating that G-d imposes His own limits on what He can and will do. G-d could not make himself not be G-d. He cannot destroy Himself and he cannot suddenly become evil or develope amnesia. Maimonides, one of our greatest rabbis, summed this up pretty well.
                        I believe that God does limit the use of his power constantly, but I do not perceive his self-limiting does not give men {or our logic} the ability to determine what he will and will not do, or what he can and cannot do. He definitely cannot be limited by our understanding or the logic that we use to relate to our existence. Our sense of logic does not apply to God.

                        Maimonides: Guide for the Perplexed 3:15

                        The "impossible" has a stable nature, one whose stability is constant and is not made by a maker; it is impossible to change it in any way. Hence, we do not ascribe to G-d the power of doing what is impossible. No thinking man denies the truth of this maxim, and none ignore it – except for those who have no understanding of logic . . .
                        Once again, no matter how much logical understanding we have, not a single iota of it can be applied in a way so as to define God. {What he can and cannot do…}
                        1. Matthew 19:26
                        But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.

                        Likewise it is impossible that G-d should produce a being like Himself, or destroy Himself, or make Himself physical, or change Himself – all of these things are in the category of the impossible, and cannot be attributed to G-d . . .
                        How do you understand the incarnation,
                        But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.
                        Hebrews 2
                        16 For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham.
                        17 Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.
                        18 For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.

                        It has become clear then that, according to every opinion and school, there are things which are impossible and which cannot exist. The power to bring about these impossible things cannot be ascribed to G-d. The fact that He cannot change them does not imply inability or deficiency of power on His part.

                        Please discuss and debate. Enjoy!
                        2. Matthew 19:26
                        But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.
                        3. Luke 18:27
                        And he said, The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Jedidiah View Post
                          I think it is more a matter that man (as the creation) can not have any real relationship with God without the incarnation. God is too far above us.
                          I was thinking along those lines. Just not confident enough to write it.
                          "For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings." Hosea 6:6

                          "Theology can be an intellectual entertainment." Metropolitan Anthony Bloom

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by dacristoy View Post
                            2. Matthew 19:26
                            But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.
                            3. Luke 18:27
                            And he said, The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.
                            But all things do not happen. Does our understanding of who G-d is allow for Him to say no or not take action?
                            "For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings." Hosea 6:6

                            "Theology can be an intellectual entertainment." Metropolitan Anthony Bloom

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Thoughtful Monk View Post
                              But all things do not happen. Does our understanding of who G-d is allow for Him to say no or not take action?
                              Our understanding in no way hinders God...

                              Comment

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