At church this morning, during the children’s part of the service, the pastor’s puppet, Jake, asked how big God is. Someone in the congregation stretched out his arms as wide as he could and said, “This big.”
That reminded me of what I was reading last night in a book that
Moody Press sent me to review. (This post is not my official review,
but I am just referring to the book.) The book is A Reasonable Response: Answers to Tough Questions on God, Christianity and the Bible.
In this book, renowned Christian apologist William Lane Craig responds
to questions that people have sent him about God, Christianity, and the
Bible. At least two of the questions dealt with God’s infinity and
omnipresence. One person asked if God’s infinity implied pantheism. If
God is without limit, then there is nothing separating God from
anything or anyone else, right? If that is the case, is not God
everything, and everything is God? Another person inquired how Jesus
could be omnipresent when he was on earth, since, as a human being, he
could only be in one place at a time.
These questions have been somewhere in my mind for some time. On the
question about God’s infinity and lack of boundaries, I thought back to
a tape I heard in which a rabbi was arguing against Christian
doctrines. The rabbi was saying that God could never become incarnate
as a human being because one of God’s properties is infinity. Once God
becomes a human being, however, God is no longer infinite, for God is
then finite and has limitations and boundaries. The rabbi could not
conceive of this being the case with God. When I heard the rabbi say
this, I had the same question that the one person asked Dr. Craig: If
nothing separates God from anything or anyone else, does not that imply
pantheism? What, if anything, distinguishes or separates us from God?
On the question about whether Jesus was omnipresent in the flesh,
this issue was in my mind back when I was on a Christian dating site.
Some, appealing to Philippians 2, asserted that Jesus laid aside or
emptied himself of certain divine prerogatives when he became a human,
and that presumably would include his omnipresence. Others, by
contrast, believed that this notion compromised the idea that Jesus was
fully divine even as a human being, and so they tried to argue that
Jesus somehow had all of his divine attributes when he was in the flesh,
but some of them he hid, or put in hibernation, or whatever. In terms
of my Armstrongite background, I think that it went more with the first
idea, that Jesus laid aside his divine prerogatives at the incarnation.
I do recall someone saying to me, however, that Jesus could have been
in one place at a time, and yet his spirit would still be everywhere.
How did Dr. Craig answer these questions? Regarding the first
question, the one on God’s infinity and pantheism, Dr. Craig states on
“Persons have ‘boundaries’ in a metaphorical sense: you are not I.
God is not Gordon Brown. But the fact that two persons are distinct
doesn’t imply that one of them can’t be infinite. Of course, God’s
infinity isn’t really a quantitative concept but has reference to His
superlative attributes. But then there’s no reason to think that one
person could not be omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, morally
perfect, eternal, etc., and the other limited in these same respects.
None of those attributes excludes the existence of a distinct person who
has limited knowledge, goodness, power, etc.”
What I take this to mean is that God is infinite in terms of his
attributes—-God is infinite in knowledge, power, goodness, etc.—-not in
the sense that there are no boundaries distinguishing God from
everything and everyone else.
Regarding the second question, the one about whether Jesus in the flesh was omnipresent, Dr. Craig states on page 164:
“…when it comes to omnipresence, I take this attribute to mean not
that God is spread out like ether throughout space but that He is
cognizant of and causally active at every point in space. That can
still hold for the Logos during His state of humiliation. It just
wasn’t part of Jesus’ conscious life.”
Dr. Craig appears to do two things here. First, he defines
omnipresence as awareness about “every point in space” and activity
therein, not as literally and physically being present everywhere.
Second, Dr. Craig maintains that Jesus somehow had this attribute of
omnipresence during the incarnation. How could Jesus have functioned if
he were continually aware of and causing things in “every point in
space”? According to Dr. Craig, this was not a “part of Jesus’
conscious life.” Jesus was omnipresent, for Dr. Craig, but he was not
entirely conscious of that. I can’t say that makes total sense to me,
but Dr. Craig is trying here!
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