In regard to the nature of God, Thomas Oden in Classic Christianity (New York: HarperOne, 1992) discusses the different kinds of attributes we apply to God, such as pre-relational attributes (pre-time, pre-world, pre-space), essential attributes (e.g., infinite, eternal, immeasurable), relational attributes (omnipresence, omniscience, omnipotence), moral attributes (holiness, justice, love), and personal attributes (life, will, spirit). On the same subject, Michael S. Horton in Lord and Servant: A Covenant Christology (Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press, 2005) tells us about communicable vs. incommunicable attributes of God, where the second ones are attributes that only God can have. And finally, Justo L. González in Mañana: Christian Theology from a Hispanic Perspective (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1990) talks about the limits of theological language and introduces us to relational attributes, specifically the omnipotence and omnipresence of God. A common topic discussed by these authors is the limit, if any, of the omnipotence of God. So, it is fair to ask, in what sense is God an omnipotent being?
In a section dedicated to how Scriptures speak of God, González holds God is both the object and the victim of history. And we should understand this as that God does not remove opposition, but he uses it to achieve his will (González 1990, 93). This does not mean that God is not omnipotent since “The Crucified is also the Risen One.” González adds, “Some may object that this denies God’s omnipotence. But nowhere in Scripture do we find the claim that God is omnipotent in the sense of being able to do whatever strikes the divine fancy. Such a notion results from human speculation and is therefore characteristic of an idol.” (González 1990, 94) With such example, González expresses his thinking from his perspective as Latino and Protestant background.
Similarly to González, Horton, discussing the omnipotence of God, states that “[c]onfusing this omnipotence with tyranny results from misunderstanding God’s power ‘in antithesis to others who have no power.’ Tyranny strives after omnipotence, but its striving betrays its resentment for not being omnipotent.” (Horton 2005, 54) The omnipotence of God is strictly bound to his essence and character. Even though God can do what he wants, he will never act against His nature. This statement leads to the classic question, can God eventually lie if he is omnipotent? This question is not as simple as it looks like. Though God has the ”capacity” to lie in the sense that there is nothing created that could limit Him in any way, God’s immutability and his consistency to prevent Him from doing so (Cf. Titus 1:2, Numbers 23:19, Hebrews 6:18). As a result, God is faithful to His nature. Horton expresses it in the following way, “God’s power is tethered not only to his knowledge, wisdom, love, goodness, and justice but also to his covenant.” (Horton 2005, 55)
Oden, following a consensus theological tradition, offers a very detailed explanation of the notion of God’s omnipotence and of how one should understand this concept correctly. Since the beginning of the section, Oden defines omnipotence as “the perfect ability of God to do all things that are consistent with the divine character (Athanasius, Ag. Heathen 28-47; Augustine, CG 5.10). God can do all that God wills to do.” (Oden 1992, 51) As said above, Oden tells us that God is not limited to by anything external to Himself. Oden here connects God’s will to the concept of omnipotence. He claims that the notion of divine self-constraint is needed when one speaks of any restriction upon God’s power. Not doing so might lead us to some confusion and even contradiction.
Despite their differences in their approaches, Oden, González, and Horton nourish serious theology readers through a deep study of the Scripture about the attributes of God and their relationship with the Christian faith within the boundaries of the sound doctrine.