Omnipotence Not in Scripture
I’m currently writing a book that rejects the doctrine of divine omnipotence. I’ll suggest a replacement I call divine amipotence – the power of love. I introduced the writing project in this previous blog essay.
One chapter in my book addresses God’s power described in what Christians call the Old and New Testaments. I’ll argue that omnipotence — even the Hebrew and Greek words often translated “almighty” or “all-powerful” — are not in the biblical texts.
God’s Power in Scripture
Authors of sacred writ describe a God who does amazing things, including creating the heavens and the earth, enacting miracles, providing salvation, and promising ultimate victory over evil. While English translators typically avoid “omnipotence” when translating Hebrew and Greek texts, they do use “almighty.” Many people believe biblical writers portray God as all-powerful.
Given this reading of scripture, Arthur Pink puts the significance of omnipotence this way: “If God were stunted in might and had a limit to His strength, we might well despair. But seeing that He is clothed with omnipotence, no prayer is too hard for Him to answer, no need too great for Him to supply, no passion too strong for Him to subdue, no temptation too powerful for Him to deliver from, no misery too deep for him to relieve.”
According to many, only an omnipotent God can save.
The Hopelessness of Omnipotence
Omnipotence does not inspire hope in everyone, however. It leads many to despair and unbelief. To those who suffer, a God who can singlehandedly liberate seems asleep. Or this God doesn’t care enough to rescue the hurting from horrors and holocausts. Fervent prayers for healing go unanswered; cries for help from the sexually abused elicit few godly rescues.
Consequently, many people have no desire to live forever with a deity who allows evil now. An almighty God isn’t trustworthy.
I will argue that Christian scripture does not support omnipotence, at least as understood in the three ways I’ve identified. God doesn’t have all power, there are many things God cannot do, and God can’t control others.
Biblical authors talk about divine action, and they consider God’s power immense. But the Hebrew and Greek words translated “almighty,” “sovereign,” and the like support neither classic nor popular understandings of God as all-powerful.
In fact, writers of scripture acknowledge limits to divine power. And they point to the role creatures play in bringing about outcomes.
Omnipotence isn’t born of scripture.
Issues to Address?
As you see it, what words, passages, or issues should I address when talking about God’s power described in Scripture?
 Arthur Pink, 67.