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The Aseity of God

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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.

20 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!

      Liked by 2 people

  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!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. @Efua:

      This phrase seems contradictory to what Steven wrote: scientists tend not to believe in God before they don’t understand Him or know how He came about. (my emphasis)

      From my interpretation of Steven’s dissertation, God did not “come about” but rather (as he wrote), “there has never been a time when God didn’t exist.” Likewise, he seemed to explain that aseity means “‘self-existing’, and when applied to God, it means He is uncaused or uncreated.”

      As a sidenote, I do not believe in a “God” as defined by religion. I do, however, lean towards a “Universal Presence” (a non-entity) that almost coincides with the aseity interpretation presented here. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  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!!

    Liked by 2 people

  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.

    Liked by 2 people

    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 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  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!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Steven, I am so grateful to discover this word, aseity. It’s refershing to think of God before the big bang. If he contains everything, he must have had this tremendous energy that sparked the big bang. His own creation, my mind boggles in front of this concept. But I love it.
    I am reading avidly about God, because I have to refute the scorn from someone who told me that God is unimportant. Now if he created all life, I bet he is important! I believe that and I want to thank you for explaining God’s aseity. I like it very much!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi there! I’m glad you find the word ‘aseity’ to be a wonderful description of God, too. I think the concept is awesome! I actually only discovered the word fairly recently myself but it speaks volumes and so I’m very pleased to have it added to my vocabulary 🙂 And you’re right, God is certainly important. I hope you will be able to convince your friend, but sometimes it’s difficult to persuade people that God is real until they experience some kind of revelation… Bless you for trying, though!

      Thank you for your comment and keep in touch 🙂

      Like

      1. Hi Steven, thanks for your reply,

        Right off the bat, and with all due respect, your comment comes with theological presuppositions, but I appreciate your straight answer: there was never nothing.

        If there was never nothing, always something, then I think you’ll agree it is not a question of why is there something rather than nothing (that is a thoroughly meaningless question), but rather what is aseitic: a supernatural creator, or the universe itself? Something has to be aseitic. This is our shared starting point.

        If I may ask you then: even if we don’t presently know the ‘how,’ but considering we have an unbroken line of material explanations answering our questions, why is it less reasonable to assume the universe itself is aseitic, and more reasonable, in your opinion, to expect magic to spontaneously provide an explanation?

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Hi John,

          Many thanks for your very intelligent and thought-provoking comment.

          I believe in God because He has revealed Himself to me in various ways, including miracles and talking to me. I also see ample evidence for God’s existence in the created world, such as beauty, symmetry, and complexity in creation. I have also deeply investigated the nature of thought, and what causes thoughts to arise in our minds from nothing. Those are a few reasons (and I could give other reasons) why I am certain God exists.

          I don’t expect anyone to believe in God unless He reveals Himself in some way. I used to be an atheist. I don’t know whether you are or not, perhaps you’re agnostic, but I do understand and appreciate the atheistic/agnostic position.

          I hope that helps you to understand why I believe in the aseity of a personal God, and not just the aseity of the universe.

          Thank you for the opportunity to discuss these things.

          Best wishes,

          Steven

          Liked by 1 person

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