Hello everyone, and welcome back to Deeper Waters, a blog that seeks to take its readers into a dive in the ocean of truth! We’ve been going through the doctrine of God in Christian thought with our guide being the Summa Theologica of Thomas Aquinas, which can be read for free at newadvent.org. Last night, we finished looking at the topic of the Book of Life so tonight, we will begin an all new topic, the power of God! Let our first question then be the one we should be asking first, does God even have power?
Aquinas makes a distinction between passive power and active power to explain how there is power in God, which he of course says there is. Passive power is the ability to be acted upon. My computer keyboard has passive power. I am the one with the active power capable of acting on it. Of course, once it’s acted on, somehow, it has active power that sends the signals out that cause these letters to show up. I also have passive power. I can be acted upon.
God’s power is only active. God cannot be acted upon in the sense that we change God. For instance, while we are told to pray, we are not told to pray to change God. We are to pray mainly to align ourselves to God and realize that everything that we have comes from Him and we are to be dependent on Him for all that we have.
Another point to be brought up is once again the simplicity of God. In other beings, there is the will to act and then the power to bring about that will and these are separate things. In God, the will and the power are the same but they only differ in idea. It is a hard point again to understand, but it is a foundation of the doctrine of Aquinas and the first attribute of God he discusses after establishing God’s existence.
There is also the question of matter. Why? Matter is a force that is passive. It acts according to set laws. Aristotle said that better than every power is its act. Form is also better than matter. That is, what a thing is by essence rather than by matter. Action is also better than active power. Therefore, if God is power, then it would seem that God could be better. Since he cannot be, he surely cannot be power and thus cannot have power.
This is the case only where there is a distinction. In God however, there is no distinction. His active power is how he brings about his will. He is able to do that which he wills to do. God is the most powerful of all not only in quantity, which is infinite as we shall see later, but quality, as he is capable of acting on all other things in whatever way he desires.
Thus, we conclude that there is power in God and we should all realize that. God has the ability to bring about change, but too often, we look at our world as if He could not. Let us forsake such a view for such a view is of a god who does not exist, an idol.
We shall continue tomorrow.