God’s Promises Limit God’s Freedom

“As in any relationship of integrity, God will have to give up some things for the sake of the relationship. Thus, God will have to give up some freedom. Any commitment or promise within a relationship entails a limitation of freedom. By such actions, God has decisively limited the option God has for speaking and acting. God has exercised divine freedom in making such promises in the first place. But, in having freely made such promises, thereafter God’s freedom is truly limited by those promises. God will do what God says God will do; God will be faithful to God’s own promises, and that is a limitation of freedom. God’s freedom is not most supremely a freedom for the world, not a freedom from the world.”  (Terence E. Fretheim, The Suffering of God: An Old Testament Perspective, pgs. 36-37)

Logically speaking, we can understand how the promises God makes and the choices He makes in the universe (whose dimensions are framed by time and space) limits God’s freedom.   God commits Himself to certain actions in time and space and this means other actions or choices are not possible.  This very logic is also testimony too the supreme love, mystery and humility of God.   The omnipotent God is able in love to empty Himself and set aside His omnipotence.

But what is also true in this self-emptying, in this setting aside of His omnipotence, in setting limits to His freedom, God remains true to His very nature that God is love.  For even when God sets aside his omnipotence, even when God empties Himself, He remains love.  God is love as the omnipotent creator of the universe.  God is love as the incarnate Christ dying on the cross.  God imposes limits on His freedom in order to remain faithful to His love for us.

One thought on “God’s Promises Limit God’s Freedom

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