Freedom and Power

There is a sense in which the nature of God’s own Godhood is such that God had to become incarnate. However, far from being a limitation, the Incarnation is the supreme act of God’s freedom and the concentration of God’s power in one person. God’s power is never aimless or wild. And no other limits God’s power. Divine power, true power, is limited insofar as it is always concentrated toward one goal or end. Any limitation is a self-limitation, and that for one end. For Forsyth, that end is the securing of holiness for God and for creation. Unlike the (super?)powers of this world, God’s use of power is ever with a view to love – to love the other, to love his enemies – a love that takes cruciform shape, dying even for those who would wish him dead.

… limitation is a power of Godhead, not a curtailment of it. Among the infinite powers of the Omnipotent must be the power to limit Himself, and among His glories the grace to bend and die. Incarnation is not impossible to the Infinite; it is necessary. If He could not come incarnate His infinitude would be partial and limited. It would not be complete. It would be limited to all that is outside human nature. It would be limited by human nature in the sense of not being able to enter it, of being stopped at its gates. God would be curtailed to the extent of His creation. And that would be a more fatal limitation to His power than any He could suffer from being in it. He may be in without being locked in. (PT Forsyth, God the Holy Father, 33)

Painting: Rembrandt’s Holy Family (1640); Oil on wood, 41 x 34 cm; Musee du Louvre, Paris.

One comment

  1. “Like all other families, God’s family must become a true moral fellowship by cherishing the ties of blood and of association, and by maintaining just rule and right discipline; and only by effort and sacrifice can we pass to the life in which both have disappeared into the spirit of freedom.” (167)

    “To be perfect as our Father in Heaven is perfect, is not to engage in many pious services, or to do no manner of visible evil, or even to be supremely good people, but is to love our enemies, even as God sends His rain upon the just and upon the unjust.” (170)

    John Oman, The Elements of Pain and Conflict in Human Life, considered from a Christian Point of View, 1916.

    “It is evidence of a wicked and malicious humor to please ourselves in the misery of another, or delight in an evil that brings us no good.”

    Henry Scougal (1650-1678), The Works of Henry Scougal.


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