Is God Almighty?

The question of whether God is truly Almighty has been proposed as being relevant to why suffering occurs. If God is not omnipotent, it could suggest that he does not or cannot intervene in every situation. Whereas if he is Almighty, and if this implies omnipotence, and he is also all-loving and presumably therefore doesn’t like to see people suffering, surely he could just zap the devil and put an end to all evil and suffering. (If he exists of course). Paul H suggests the bible does not portray God as Almighty, if our Greek thinking derived from Augustine is discounted (i.e. the assumption that God is only God if he is Almighty). He says that Revelation portrays a final struggle between good and evil in which the saints (i.e. all Christians) are involved through prayer and witness (and possibly actually fighting if you are a Crusader or a present-day American Christian), and they suffer for their faith.

Almighty is of course an English word used in translation of the Greek. I think I still have my copy of Vine’s New Testament Words, but God knows where it is (or maybe he doesn’t!). Revelation 1v8 and Genesis 17v1 are just two verses of many in which most modern versions translate the relevant word as Almighty. (Though regarding Genesis 17v1, Scofield says that it is to be regretted that El Shaddai is translated Almighty when the primary term El or Elohim signifies Almighty).

For a start, if we were to accept that God created the universe, either through initiating the Big Bang and then by guiding natural selection, or by ex nihilo creation as fundamentalists believe, then he must be as near to being Almighty as makes no difference. If he is that powerful but cannot control evil, then either he does not care about human suffering, or the Devil is very nearly as powerful (“Dualism”): neither of those options are acceptable to most Christians. In fact however, many Christians do subscribe to a Spiritual Warfare theory in which the Devil opposes God and the saints, and the Kingdom of God has not yet fully come into being, but they would deny that this makes them Dualists, and would be dubious about the implication that God is not powerful enough to avoid two thousand years of suffering since the Cross if he wanted to. Dualism, or even Spiritual Warfare as understood by many evangelicals, could be a good explanation for the way the world is, but they imply that God is unable or unwilling to take control of the situation. Or, if he is in control, then he witnesses untold human suffering, and either does nothing because “the time has not yet come”, or at best alleviates some suffering but allows some to continue, according to his Mysterious Ways. The Eden story in Genesis does suggest a Dualism where God does not have it all his own way, and the first chapter of Job suggests a universe where God negotiates with Satan: but these chapters are followed by portrayals of God as Almighty (a contradiction?).

But if we therefore accept that God is not Almighty, what are the implications? Revelation tells us that God will win the struggle between Good and Evil, but will he? It hasn’t happened yet. If Revelation is true, then I certainly hope he wins. But is it all propaganda? If he is not Almighty, then to assume a win at this stage is about as sensible as a football crowd assuming their team will definitely win, and getting very excited about it, just because they score in the first two minutes. And a very large part of Revelation is about all the heavenly beings worshipping Him for all eternity. Why should we worship a God who is not Almighty? Perhaps Revelation merely reflects the human culture of the time: people would worship an Emperor or a successful General, just as today some people worship Kim Jong-Un or Donald Trump. If God is not Almighty, then we are saying that the world is controlled by (in a greatly simplified list), Joe Biden, Xi JinPing, Vladimir Putin, Jeff Bezos, various hedge fund managers and commodity brokers – and God. Such a God may be many orders of magnitude more powerful than these people, but it would only be a question of degree, rather than being conceptually different.

If the reason that the violence on Earth continues is because of a struggle between two sets of celestial beings who exist in another dimension but somehow impact human life, then it seems like something out of the Marvel Universe, or the Greek or Norse cosmology. That seems even more difficult to believe, than to believe in a being with Absolute Power who cannot be defeated or contradicted. The first option cannot control the universe and stop suffering and evil, and the second chooses not to. So to downgrade God from Almighty causes just as many problems and illogicalities as an unswerving belief in an Almighty God, at least if we try to tie either of these concepts into the biblical narrative. If we feel that a Supreme Being is necessary to explain the existence of life, then the biblical narrative must be very far from explaining the Truth.


Adrian Roberts. 19 July 2021. 


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