Delimiting the Traditional Notion of Divine Omnipotence
What does it mean for God to be omnipotent? Being able to do anything? Anything that is logically possible? Anything that is actually possible? Perhaps defining divine omnipotence is not as simple as one would like. Even St. Thomas Aquinas admits that while “all confess that God is omnipotent . . . it seems difficult to explain in what His omnipotence precisely consists.”1 I think Griffin agrees. He remarks that the term omnipotence is so fraught with ambiguity that it lends itself to several different meanings and contains connotations that are “comforting for some, horrifying to others.” In view of this, Griffin thinks that “it is probably futile to try to salvage the word,” that perhaps “we should simply abandon the notion of omnipotence rather than trying to recover it.”2 Should we? Or could we save the term somehow? Perhaps so, Griffin thinks, but only if we define the term more precisely, only if we delimit the notion of God’s perfect power.