Omnipotence and omnibenevolence
Recently, I saw someone forward the following image on Facebook. For those who can’t see the image (or if the image has become inaccessible), I’ll reprint the text:
I want to ask God
why He allows poverty, famine
and injustice in the world when He
could do something about it,
but I’m afraid He might just
ask me the
I can imagine what this kind of image is getting at…however, it seems to easy to answer the image:
I “allow” poverty, famine, and injustice in the world because I’m not omnipotent or omnibenevolent. That’s why “allow” is in scare quotes to begin with…because it’s not like I have the power to disallow it. However, for the parts “I could do something about,” I just don’t have as much goodwill to do it.”
…But I’m afraid He might just give me the same answer
Yeah, I’m not a perfect person. I’m not even that great of a person. Sometimes, Seth R comments that one thing he appreciates about the church is that it puts him in a position to help a lot of people that quite frankly, he wouldn’t have motivation or reason to help otherwise. I think this is a brutally honest answer…and I mean, I think some people might want to respond, “How horrible!” but really, most people do not put down what they are doing to help the poor, the sick, or the hungry. Most people don’t even give the little bit they could (while remaining perfectly secure in their own lifestyles.) At best, we write on the internet about how we oppose these injustices, and once in a while, we’ll throw some scraps to some charity effort…but we’re not really up to the Sisyphean task of untangling the web of ills that make these things possible.
And, you know…I’d be ok if people believed the same stuff was true about God. I’d be ok if people believed that the reason all of these injustices persisted was because he was preoccupied with stuff too…too comfortable to do something difficult like resolve the evils of societies.
At least then, the image would make a bit of sense. It wouldn’t be us mere imperfect mortals looking up at the almighty and wondering, “What gives?” and then the almighty going out of character to ask us the same question back…after all, he’s omniscient, so he would already know that!
Nope…if would be mere imperfect mortals looking up at a more-than-mere, but-still-somewhat-imperfect immortal. The fear that He would ask us the same question would be the fear that there’s nothing that can save us unilaterally…there is no one way, truth, and light. Instead, we have to rely upon each other — not just each other as humans but to this God who seems a lot like a neglectful parent trying to make it all up after we’ve grown up and he’s gone through AA or something.
Just because parents are imperfect doesn’t mean they don’t have some wisdom to impart. Just because they have some foibles doesn’t mean they can’t help us with ours. Just because they have been unkind (at times) doesn’t mean we can’t volunteer to give them our kindness.
…unfortunately, as I mentioned, most people don’t believe this about God. That’s what’s so unrealistic. Humans are sinful, and God (perfect as he is) is the only one who can save us. Don’t you dare say anything else because that’s blasphemy!
But if this is true, then the question really only works one way. If we are to rely upon him to save us, then what is the deal?