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14. God's Omnipotence

14. God's Omnipotence

Would we rather limit God’s power, or limit His goodness?


Required Reading Understanding Judaism, p. 238-246

Required Reading Notes from When Bad Things Happen to Good People by Harold Kushner. Kushner raises three apparently contradictory tenets of faith:

  • God is omnipotent – He is the supreme power and He can do anything and everything.
  • God is good – the 13 attributes of mercy define God as good, just, compassionate, and kind.
  • Good people suffer – this is a fact rather than a belief, a reality that we see around us.


(1) Kushner said, 'If I had to choose between God's goodness and God's power, I would rather limit His power than limit His goodness'. What is the theological problem with this statement?

(2) What is the meaning of 'Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh' – 'I will be what I will be'? How does this set God apart from Man?

(3) How do we reconcile our ability to have free choice (i.e. God is not in control of my actions) with God's omnipotence? Does our ability to have freedom of choice mean that God is limited in this world?

(4) What is the purpose of God giving us free choice?

(5) How does free choice affect our understanding of suffering in this world?

(6) What is a 'Gilgul'? What is the function of 'Gilgul'?

(7) Give an example of a 'Gilgul' found in the Torah, of someone who came back to this world to rectify the sin of another.

(8) What promise did God make to our forefathers that set a limit to the suffering the Jewish people will endure in this world?

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14. God's Omnipotence

May 11, 2014

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