The Aseity of God

My greatest fascination in this life is with the area of theology known as ‘divine ontology’ – in other words, the nature of God’s being. I actually feel quite excited whenever I direct my attention towards this subject area and ponder the immensity of the universe and what this indicates in relation to its Creator.

Perhaps the one attribute of God that delights me the most is His aseity. Without being too gushing about it, the truth is I find it difficult to capture in words the extent to which I’m enthralled by this. It is a truly wonderful and awe-inspiring concept to behold.

The word aseity has Latin roots, with a meaning ‘from’, se meaning ‘self’, and ity meaning ‘ness’. So aseity means ‘from-self-ness’. To expand upon this we might say that the word means ‘self-existing’, and when applied to God, it means He is uncaused or uncreated.

This is very relevant to the philosophical problem of why there is something rather than nothing. Many scientists posit that existence started with a ‘big bang’, but this theory will always beg the question of what came before. It is illogical to argue that something can emerge out of nothing. The solution to this problem is God’s aseity – there has never been a time when God didn’t exist, as His very nature is being.

Pondering God’s aseity has led me to understand that God is not different from existence. If this is true, then everything that exists is a part of God. I’m not arguing for pantheism (which equates God with nature) for I believe the physical world could cease to exist and God, because of His aseity, would remain perfectly whole. Creation is instead contained ‘within God’ and this makes sense because if God is boundless then nothing can exist outside of Him.

The implications of this perspective for traditional theism, where God is seen as separate from His creation, are obvious. If there are no limits to the extent of God’s being, then it logically follows that there can be no freedom from God (free will). Instead, we must see the entirety of creation as an expression of God’s being, and under His control. But that’s another discussion for another time.

What I love about the concept of aseity is that despite being a logical explanation of one of God’s fundamental attributes, it is still deeply mysterious. I invite you to meditate on this concept in all its richness, and should you feel the urge, leave a comment below explaining what the idea means to you.

13 comments

    1. Hi John! Thank you so much! While I am delighted you nominated me, I’m afraid I’m a bit of a spoilsport when it comes to these awards and don’t tend to participate. Really sorry, I hope that doesn’t offend! But if you do genuinely think I’m an awesome blogger, I’m thrilled! God bless you and thanks again!

  1. I totally love this. It doesn’t surprise me that scientists tend not to believe in God before they don’t understand Him or know how He came about. But then that is what makes Him God. I don’t want to serve someone i can figure out totally. I want to serve someone who is greater than my thoughts and imaginations. The day we can totally figure Him out, He ceases to be God. And we all know that that will never happen. He is God!

  2. Some very interesting thoughts here. As it is very late here, I am better not to make specific comment ad I’m not sure I would be fully coherent. But I will say that I’m gaining an understanding of your thoughts even though there are some finer particulars on which we don’t fully agree. I truly respect and appreciate your thoughtful and honest approach to faith. God bless you greatly, my friend!!

    1. Thank you, Lynn. Always appreciate your kindness! And if you’re able to understand my perspective that pleases me greatly, even while we may disagree on certain things. God bless you too!

  3. I have never heard the word “aseity” before, but I do have a hook on which to hang “ontology,” so I read with interest. Your fascination here is contagious, and I’m intrigued conceptually (not so much theologically) by such sentences as ” If this is true, then everything that exists is a part of God.” This phrasing is easier to swallow since it sounds a lot like the letter to the Colossians: “then nothing can exist outside of Him.”

    If you recall a couple of recent interchanges, you probably won’t be surprised that I find this to be a non sequitur: “If there are no limits to the extent of God’s being, then it logically follows that there can be no freedom from God (free will).” I would follow along through the conditional part of that statement, but, off the top, I’d follow with “the nature of God’s sovereignty is compelling — and, for some, paradoxical — in that it allows for the free will of his human creatures.” Just my 2c.

    1. Hi Brian! Thank you for your kind and thoughtful reflections, and for adding to the discussion. As you may have realised I’m quite settled on the argument that if God is boundless, that means everything is a part of God. But I respect the fact that you see things a little differently! I’ll keep trying 😉 God bless you and have a wonderful weekend 🙂

  4. Great piece! I do intend to meditate on this more often. It’s quite a hard concept to grasp, God is Being itself. It’s one when I first began delving into spirituality, which absolutely confused me.

    Aseity is a completely new word for me so thank you for adding one to my theological dictionary!

    Blessing to you Steven!

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