St. Mary's Anglican Catholic Church

Diocese of the Midwest

Catechist. Rehearse the Articles of thy Belief.

Answer. I believe in God the… Almighty….
 Based upon the record of Holy Scripture, we know that God has revealed Himself to us to the extent that permits us to say that He possesses a number of attributes or qualities. God is a pure spiritual substance or essence (St John 4:24), existing in and of Himself through all eternity (Psalm 90:2). God is unchangeable or immutable (St James 1:17). God is invisible, yet He is everywhere present (omnipresent) (1 Timothy 1:17; 6:16; Jeremiah 23:3). God’s wisdom and knowledge are limitless and unsurpassable (He is omniscient) (Romans 11:33). God is also pure and absolute in terms of His faithfulness (Deuteronomy 8:9), holiness (Isaiah 6:3), justice (Deuteronomy 32:4), goodness (Psalm 99:68), and mercy (Exodus 34:6-7). Thus, God is spoken of as perfection itself (Exodus 3:14; Psalm 83:18).
All of these divine attributes are summarized in the Creeds by the word Almighty. The Greek word for Almighty is παντοκράτωρ (Panto-crator), which means “almighty ruler” or “ruler of all things.” The Latin word is omnipotens, from which the English word “omnipotent” derives. Thus, when we say God is Almighty we say that He is all-powerful; ruling all things according to His will (Psalm 147:5). In the words of the Psalmist: Whatsoever the LORD pleased, that did he in heaven, and in earth, the seas, and all deep places (Psalm 135:6).
For the human mind, which is both finite and fallen, the idea that God is almighty presents some difficulties. Can God really do anything he might choose to do? The answer is actually no. God cannot do anything that is contrary to His nature or character. As noted above, God is pure and absolute in terms of His faithfulness, love, holiness, justice, goodness, and mercy. Thus God cannot do anything that is capricious, unloving, random, unjust, or inconsistent. These latter in fact are the characteristics of sinful men, not Almighty God. This is why the just God only forgives us our sins on the basis of the atonement He made for our sins Himself in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ. Thus, both God’s justice and mercy are maintained as He forgives us our sins. The problem is not that God is at any time inconsistent with his character, but rather that we as sinners think and act in ways that are inconsistent with the our nature as beings created in the image of God.

Does not man’s free will limit the power of God? It is indeed true that man’s actions are spontaneous and the result of responsible choice. But like man’s other endowments as one created in the image of God, man’s free will is a created thing and therefore not absolute nor independent of the purpose of the God who created him. Just as God’s purposes are worked out through the rest of nature, so also our psychological make-up (our souls), including the exercise of free will, functions within the compass of His will and not independently of it (See Ephesians 1:11). This in no way undermines the reality of free will. But rather, like everything else, God sustains and overrules our free will without overriding it. Our thoughts and actions are indeed ours; and we are responsible for them. This is a mystery to us; again, because we are finite and fallen. But as the Lord tells us: my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9).

The existence of evil is also a problem. Since God could remove evil and has not done so, we might ask, is He really almighty? Or, since God has not chosen to remove evil from the world, is He really all good? This may be the most difficult problem of all in the light of all the moral evil, useless suffering, and wasted good we see around us. It is notable the Jesus Christ, the very Word of God made flesh, did not provide us with an explanation for evil. Rather, for this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. (1 St John 3:8) For the time being, God Almighty permits and overrules evil, but one day He will override it as well. Recall the story of Joseph. Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery in Egypt out of envy and malice. But through God’s grace, Joseph rose to the height of worldly power in Egypt; and Joseph through God’s guidance prevented the death of his brothers, his former captors in Egypt, and all the surrounding nations from starvation. When his brothers craved forgiveness for fear of retribution, Joseph responded: am I in the place of God? But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive (Genesis 50:19-20). Jesus Christ, the Son of God, died on the cross at the hands of sinful men. Was not this the ultimate evil? Yet as His Apostles proclaimed on the day of Pentecost: Christ, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it (Acts 2:23-24). In Jesus Christ, Almighty God, not the devil or man, will have the last word; having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will (Ephesians 1:9-11).