Is God almighty, omniscient and almighty

Is God Almighty?

Series: "What do I need to know, what can I believe?" (Episode 2)

By Andreas Malessa

Believers often think God too humanly, says Professor Bubmann. (Stock.XCHNG - Cris Watk)

How great is the power of God? Professor Peter Bubmann from the Institute for Religious Education at the University of Erlangen considers the idea of ​​the almighty ruler to be a projection of human fantasies. For him, God is also born as a helpless refugee child, Jesus.

"I believe in God Almighty"

This is what billions of Christians around the world speak every Sunday in the so-called "Apostles' Creed". But: do you believe it too? And if so, what does it mean, "God is almighty"?

"When Abraham was 99 years old, the Lord appeared to him and said to him: 'I am the God who has power over everything. Wherever you are - live with me and do what is right.'"

The amazed contemplation of the awe-inspiring beautiful and magnificent creation is the most obvious source of the attribute "omnipotent": Whoever has created this can do everything else. So the assumption. In the oldest texts of the Hebrew Bible, however, God's omnipotence is derived less from nature than from his political intervention. And - it is already being doubted:

"Then Moses called to the Lord: 'Since I was with Pharaoh, he has only been suppressing my people even harder. And you are not doing anything to help us!' The Lord replied: 'When he feels my power, he will even be glad to get rid of you.' "

Professor Peter Bubmann from the Institute for Religious Education at the University of Erlangen considers the idea of ​​God as the almighty ruler to be a projection of human fantasies of omnipotence:

"Because this God-thinking, what is behind it, works with the fact that we have a human quality - namely that someone has the power to achieve something even higher, make it even bigger and project it onto God. That we think God in a way as almighty ruler along the lines of a dictator who can move anything, do anything, but can also do anything arbitrarily Not to think. That God could harm once, benefit once, quite arbitrarily; that he might undo his own promises made; does not keep what he has promised and promised - but omnipotence must mean something else. "

In the Old Testament, however, it evidently means precisely that: imperious sovereignty. God is referred to as "the Almighty" 37 times there, 29 times of which in the Book of Job. In the story of that wealthy family father who first loses his property, then his wife and children, and finally his health and finally receives the information: You are too small to hold God accountable.

If God is "omnipotent", he is also responsible for everything. Every mishap, every illness, every tragic death and every major catastrophe put him in the dock with the question: How could you let that happen ?!

The common answer to this so-called "theodicy" question about God's justification is: Humans have free will and the right to self-determination, so can and may also choose evil, God sometimes has to watch powerlessly. But this logic fails completely when children have cancer, when an earthquake or a tsunami kills hundreds of thousands.

Peter Bubmann: "This so-called theodicy explanation theory cannot really convince. We do not know why it is so. We only know that within this world, which for us often remains inexplicable, there is a history of God's intervention against all destructive ones Experience holds fast to this: there are new possibilities for life again. Omnipotence must mean something else, namely that God really has the power of love, for the power of love he has in the history of the prophets and his people Israel and then above all in Jesus Christ has shown to really prevail in the course of time. Actually, the term "God Almighty" is a concept of hope that those who pronounce it in the creed distort: ​​namely the hope that the power of love will prevail. "

"When they were in Bethlehem, Mary gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him in diapers and put him in a manger in the stable, because they had no place in the inn. At the circumcision eight days later they gave the child named Jesus. When Mary and Joseph brought the child into the temple, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God: 'Now I can die in peace, because I have seen the deliverer you gave the world, him is the light for all peoples and the glory for your people Israel. '"

This is usually overlooked because of the sheer Christmas sentimentality: The "almighty" God does not come ridden in as a general of heavenly angel legions, but rather enters the earthly stage as a newborn refugee child. A baby is physically impotent, but by no means "powerless" as a result. When young parents get up x times a night, they do it, obeying their love, out of compassion and simple humanity. Theologians call this "exercise of power through powerlessness" the "condescendence of God".

What is meant is: the descent, the descent, the becoming human of God. His determination to influence people's hearts only. Logically, only one of the 27 New Testament scriptures in the Bible describes God as "omnipotent".

Peter Bubmann: "All these terms that start with 'all-' are always such projections that you inflate a positive characteristic from a human perspective, make it bigger, always make it bigger and then say: In the largest version it is God! I think one has to say goodbye to it. This is a philosophical way of thinking about God, but this does not correspond to the logic of the historical experience of God.

There could be a good reason for the departure from traditional triumphalistic "omnipotence" ideas recommended by Professor Bubmann: the much-cited "Christ hymn" from Paul's letter to the Philippians. The creed of renouncing power and compassionate God:

"Although Jesus Christ was equal to God in everything and had a share in God's rulership, he did not insist on privileges, but renounced them and became without rights like a slave. He was born like any other person, lived as a person among people, he humiliated himself and obeyed God to death, yes, to death on the cross. "

Why don't billions of Christians around the world pray "I believe in God, who is temporarily powerless out of love but powerful" every Sunday?

Peter Bubmann: "If all Christians could agree on this, we could change it that way!"