What God Cannot Do – Part 6
I did not especially want to get into a discussion about Jesus, the incarnation, the trinity, etc. However, my claim that God cannot suffer or be harmed leads naturally to objections like this one from Lincoln:
God can be hurt. In fact Christianity is based off the fact that God can not only be hurt, but he can die. Jesus, who is God, sacrificed himself for us. This is an act of heroism.
His reasoning goes like this:
1. Jesus suffered.
2. Jesus was harmed.
3. Jesus could suffer and be harmed.
4. Jesus is God.
5. God could suffer and be harmed.
Premise (4) is questionable based on the meaning of the word ‘God’. Something can be God only if it is a person who is (a) always omnipotent, (b) always omniscient, and (c) always perfectly free, thus (4) is true only if Jesus possessed those three properties. But it appears to be false that Jesus possessed all three of these properties, so it follows that Jesus is NOT God:
6. Jesus is a person who was not always omnipotent, or not always omniscient, or not always perfectly free.
7. Something is God only if it is a person who is always omnipotent, and always omniscient, and always perfectly free.
8. Jesus is not God.
So, the dilemma for Lincoln and for other Christian thinkers is this: Was Jesus a divine person (meaning he was always omnipotent, always omniscient, and always perfectly free) or not? If you do claim that Jesus was a divine person, does that claim make sense? Is that claim plausible? If Jesus was not a divine person, then how can Jesus be God, if he was lacking some (or all) of the characteristics used to identify the referent of the proper name ‘God’?