Omnipotent God; Omniscience of God

by David L. Paulsen

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints uses the familiar terms "omnipotent," "omnipresent," and "omniscient" to describe members of the Godhead.

OMNIPOTENCE. The Church affirms the biblical view of divine omnipotence (often rendered as "almighty"), that God is supreme, having power over all things. No one or no force or happening can frustrate or prevent him from accomplishing his designs (D&C 3:1-3). His power is sufficient to fulfill all his purposes and promises, including his promise of eternal life for all who obey him.

However, the Church does not understand this term in the traditional sense of absoluteness, and, on the authority of modern revelation, rejects the classical doctrine of creation out of nothing. It affirms, rather, that there are actualities that are coeternal with the persons of the Godhead, including elements, intelligence, and law (D&C 93:29, 33, 35: 88:34-40). Omnipotence, therefore, cannot coherently be understood as absolutely unlimited power. That view is internally self-contradictory and, given the fact that evil and suffering are real, not reconcilable with God's omnibenevolence or loving kindness (see Theodicy).

OMNIPRESENCE. Since Latter-day Saints believe that God the Father and God the Son are gloriously embodied persons, they do not believe them to be bodily omnipresent. They do affirm, rather, that their power is immanent "in all and through all things" and is the power "by which all things are governed" (D&C 88:6, 7, 13, 40-41). By their knowledge and power, and through the influence of the Holy Ghost, they are omnipresent.

OMNISCIENCE. Latter-day Saints differ among themselves in their understanding of the nature of God's knowledge. Some have thought that God increases endlessly in knowledge as well as in glory and dominion. Others hold to the more traditional view that God's knowledge, including the foreknowledge of future free contingencies, is complete. Despite these differing views, there is accord on two fundamental issues: (1) God's foreknowledge does not causally determine human choices, and (2) this knowledge, like God's power, is maximally efficacious. No event occurs that he has not anticipated or has not taken into account in his planning.

(See Basic Beliefs home page; Teachings About the Godhead home page)

Bibliography

Roberts, B. H. "The Doctrine of Deity." Seventy's Course in Theology, third year. Salt Lake City, 1910.