If God Is All Powerful,
Can He Make A Rock So Big That He Isn't Powerful Enough To Lift It?
"Can you tell me what you mean when you say 'All Powerful'? Do you believe that one who was truly all-powerful could make a rock so big that they couldn't lift it?"
Many believe that to be 'All Powerful' means that would allow someone to do anything?"
"From your question it sounds like you believe this question shows a logical inconsistency. That if God could make a rock so big that He couldn't lift, then he isn't powerful enough to lift it, and thus can't be 'All Powerful'. And conversely, if He can lift any size rock that he can make, then he's not powerful enough to make a large enough rock, and thus can't be 'All Powerful'."
This is one question that is almost always asked to stump those who believe in God. I've never heard anyone ask it because they are seriously looking for an answer to the question. It could be however that someone is. I believe it is another example of a question that the one asking has heard, that they thought sounded good, and hadn't heard a credible response from a Christian. It is posed as a challenge to the concept of an ALL-POWERFUL GOD.
When you initially hear the question, it does make you wonder how the question can be answered. The underlying challenge in the question is:
If God is all powerful, he could make a rock so big that he can’t lift it, but then he couldn’t be all powerful because he couldn’t lift it. If he could lift any rock that he could make then he isn’t powerful enough to make a rock too big for him to lift. Either way, God is lacking power in some way.
The answer to this challenge has to do with the nature of God. God has made a logical world, where two or more concepts cannot be both true and contradictory at the same time. The question is similar to someone asking, “Can God make a square circle?” It is a logical impossibility. The rock question is another example of a logical impossibility.
Greg Koukl states in the following video,
“God is ALL-POWERFUL , which means He has all the power needed to do anything that requires power to accomplish, but there are some problems power can’t solve.”
GREG KOUKL - IF GOD IS ALL-POWERFUL, WHY DOES EVIL EXIST?
IF GOD, WHY EVIL? - SEAN MCDOWELL
Have you ever thought that God cannot do certain things? The idea that there are things He can’t do may surprise you. However, you will see that these things that He cannot do actually give us greater confidence in Him, in His love for us, and confidence in the promises He makes.
Considering the nature of God and His character; we see that God cannot lie, that He can’t act contradictory to his nature, that He can’t violate laws of logic, and that He can’t learn (He knows everything)! His nature will never change, so we can have faith that He won't change His mind.
The idea that God can’t learn kind of surprised me when I first heard it because of my initial understanding about God being able to do “anything”. It does make sense though when we realize that God has all knowledge, He knows everything. There is nothing that he doesn't know. Believing that God can learn implies that he doesn't know everything, and this would actually be contradictory to his nature.
Hopefully you see that while these may initially seem like limitations, they actually enable us to have great confidence in God, in His integrity, and in His promises.
Malachi 3:6 "I, the Lord, do not change."
Hebrews 13:8 “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”
We can have confidence in God, because He doesn't change. Since God doesn't change we know that we will be able to depend on the promises he has made. Knowing that he cannot lie and will never act contradictory to his nature should give Christians great confidence in God.
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