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Tuesday
Aug262014

Theological Term of the Week

finite godism
“[T]he view that there is a personal God who created and directs the world, but he is a finite being and is limited in significant ways by factors external to him.”1

  • Scriptural proof that finite godism is unbiblical:
    “The former things I declared of old; they went out from my mouth, and I announced them; then suddenly I did them, and they came to pass” (Isaiah 48:3 ESV).
    Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure (Psalm 147:5 ESV).
    “Ah, Lord GOD! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you” (Jeremiah 32:17 ESV).
  • From the Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter 2, Sections 1 and 2:

    1. There is but one only, living, and true God, who is infinite in being and perfection, a most pure spirit, invisible, without body, parts, or passions; immutable, immense, eternal, incomprehensible, almighty, most wise, most holy, most free, most absolute; working all things according to the counsel of his own immutable and most righteous will, for his own glory; most loving, gracious, merciful, long-suffering, abundant in goodness and truth, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin; the rewarder of them that diligently seek him; and withal, most just, and terrible in his judgments, hating all sin, and who will by no means clear the guilty.

    2. God hath all life, glory, goodness, blessedness, in and of himself; and is alone in and unto himself all-sufficient, not standing in need of any creatures which he hath made, nor deriving any glory from them, but only manifesting his own glory in, by, unto, and upon them. He is the alone fountain of all being, of whom, through whom, and to whom are all things; and hath most sovereign dominion over them, to do by them, for them, or upon them whatsoever himself pleaseth. In his sight all things are open and manifest, his knowledge is infinite, infallible, and independent upon the creature, so as nothing is to him contingent, or uncertain. 

  • From What’s Your Worldview? by James N. Anderson:
    According to this worldview, God isn’t absolutely perfect—at least, not in every respect. Those who hold to Finite Godism usually insist that God is perfect in goodness—his thoughts and actions are always morally pure—but his knowledge and power are limited. They argue that the existence of an orderly natural universe can be explained only by the presence of a transcendent supernatural Creator, but if God is limited in what he knows about the future and what he can do in the present, that helps to explain why there is evil in the universe he created. In short, the universe exists only because God exists, but the universe is less than perfect because God is less than perfect.

    … Finite Godism may be arbitrary in the way it ascribes limitations to God. For example, why should we think that God is limited in power rather than limited in goodness? Wouldn’t an all-powerful-but-partly-evil God explain the presence of evil in our universe just as well as an all-good-but-partly-weak God?

Learn more:

  1. James Anderson: Worldview: Finite Godism
  2. Ron Rhodes: Does Evil Prove God is Finite?
  3. Norman Geisler: What Is Finite Godism? (video)

Related terms:

Filed under Worldviews

1From What’s Your Worldview?: An Interactive Approach to Life’s Big Questions by James N. Anderson, page 63.

Do you have a a theological term you’d like to see featured here as a Theological Term of the Week? If you email it to me, I’ll seriously consider using it, giving you credit for the suggestion and linking back to your blog when I do.

Clicking on Theological Terms in the navigation bar above will take you to a list of all the previous theological terms in alphabetical order.

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