12 Challenging Questions About God: Answered Understandably

By Dr. Bob Martin III
Published 2 years ago

After reading the two previous blogs, do you have questions about God? Answering challenging questions about God (i.e., apologetics) is one of my favorite parts of evangelism.

There is so much misinformation about God and Christianity; many seekers are surprised to learn that there are simple answers to their questions. In this article, I want to go over a few of the most common questions about God that, in reality, have clear and understandable answers. Especially if you are a student of Scripture.

 

 

I.   “Isn’t the Trinity a Contradiction?”

One of the most asked questions about God involves the Trinity. The Trinity is Christianity’s unique view of God and is a view held in stark contrast to other worldviews, such as Islam or atheism.

1.   Trinity is a mystery

The Trinity is a “mystery”—a Scriptural belief that we cannot fully comprehend. Because mysteries about God are beyond our ability to understand, they are often called “contradictions” by non-Christians. They are wrong:

  • While the Trinity cannot be “comprehended” (i.e., fully understood) with our finite minds, it can be “apprehended” sufficiently
  • The use of analogies can help show that the Trinity is not a contradiction
  • In short, while we can’t “know” everything about the Trinity, we can still “show” it’s not a contradiction

 

What we do know about the Trinity is that it is:

  • Three distinct Persons (Father, Jesus, and Holy Spirit), each being God (Matt. 28:19)
  • The three Persons share one divine essence (nature) of God (Eph. 4:6)

 

2.   Analogy using a triangle demonstrates the Trinity is not a contradiction

 

Triangle with 3 Persons of Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and Circle of Human Nature attached to the Son Jesus

 

To help explain the Trinity, we can use analogies. In this case, a triangle.

  • There are three Persons and one nature
  • The one triangle corresponds to God’s one divine nature
  • The three corners correspond to the three Persons
  • The three corners must all co-exist at the same time for there to be one triangle (divine nature)

 

The Threeness and Oneness of God refer to different categories: 3 persons, 1 divine essence or nature

 

The Trinity is not a contradiction!

  • The three and one of the Trinity refer to different categories
  • There are three persons and one nature 

 

If you’re still struggling to understand the Trinity, you’re in good company. Because the Trinity is a mystery, no analogy will perfectly explain it. Don’t let this frustrate you. Instead, let it spur you to a greater love for this God who is beyond the full comprehension of our finite, human minds.

 

II.   “How Can Jesus Be Fully God and Fully Human?”

Another of the most common questions about God has to do with Jesus. How can he be both fully God and fully human?

Scripture explicitly teaches that Jesus is fully God and fully human (1 Tim. 2:5). And like the Trinity, the deity and humanity of Christ is another mystery. And like the Trinity, we use an analogy to show it is not a contradiction.

Let’s return to the triangle diagram representing the Trinity. In the corner representing Jesus, we add a circle. The circle touches but doesn’t overlap the corner.

 

Triangle with 3 Persons of Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and Circle of Human Nature attached to the Son Jesus

 

This graphic illustrates:

  • Jesus the Son has an eternal divine nature (Heb. 1:3) represented by the triangle
  • At his incarnation, he “took on” a second perfect human nature represented by the circle (Phil. 2:5-8)
  • In other words, Jesus is one person with two natures. He has both divine and human natures united in him!
  • Jesus is not half-God and half-human. He is fully God and fully human since each nature is distinct from the other
  • There is no contradiction!

 

III.   “If Jesus is God, How Can ‘God’ Grow in Knowledge, Become Tired and Thirsty, or be Tempted by Sin?”

Evidence of Jesus’ humanity is clear in Scripture. We see that Jesus grew in knowledge (Luke 2:52), became tired and thirsty (John 4:6-7), and was tempted by sin (Heb. 4:15). On the surface level, those realities don’t seem to make sense.

To answer this question about Jesus, we need to back up to the explanation of his nature—he is “one person with two natures:”

  • He has an eternal divine nature as God
  • And he has perfect human nature

 

For every question about Jesus there are two answers: Jesus as God, Jesus as Human

 

So, every question about Jesus must have an answer for his divine nature and an answer for his human nature. For instance:

Example 1: “Did Jesus ever get hungry, tired, or thirsty?”

  • As God, no
  • As a human, yes

 

Example 2: “Was Jesus all-knowing, all-powerful, eternal, and infinite?”

  • As God, yes
  • As a human, no

 

So, there is no contradiction!

 

IV.   “Who Made God”

The question about God’s origin is one of the most frequently asked questions about God. And it makes a lot of sense. After all, everyone and everything we know on this earth have had a beginning. Thus, this question is based on that knowledge.

It presumes that something or someone existed before God—and that they or it created him. But that is impossible! Why? Because God is eternal.

So, the answer itself is surprisingly brief, “No one created God. God is eternal and self-existent.”

Just like the question about the Trinity and Jesus’ two natures, this question about God is unlike anything else we know. That makes it hard, but not impossible, to understand.

To help wrap our minds around it, let’s unpack this answer. Scripture says that God is eternal, everlasting without beginning (Gen. 21:33; Ps. 90:2). Being eternal means no person or thing created him. That means:

  • God is “uncaused”
  • God created the universe from “nothing” (we call this ex nihilo) and is beyond time (Gen. 1:1; John 1:3)
  • There was nothing except God before the universe came into being (Gen. 1:1)
  • In sum, since God is before all creation, he is the uncaused Creator of the universe

 

V.   Isn’t Being “Self-Existent” a Contradiction?

As I just showed, God is eternal. And because he is eternal, he is:

  • Uncaused: No one caused God to come into existence
  • Self-existent: He has always existed in and of himself, independent of anything else (Gen. 1:1; John 1:3)

 

Now, critics often attempt to trip us up by confusing self-existing with self-caused.

Although both words start with “self,” they have very different meanings!

  • Self-existence: An attribute associated with God’s eternality
  • Self-caused: An illogical belief in causality. Causality refers to how something comes into existence

 

God cannot be self-caused. Being “self-caused” is a logical contradiction. Why?

  • To be self-caused, a person must first exist to bring themselves into existence!
  • If that seems like a silly idea, you’re right. It is!
  • Being self-caused is a logical impossibility!

 

VI.   “How Can God Answer Everyone’s Prayers?”

During trials, many of us ask, “Does God hear our prayers?” But there is no need to worry. Why?

Because God is eternal, he transcends (is above and beyond) his created universe, including time (Isa. 57:15).

  • God experiences all of time (past, present, and future) in one enduring eternal “present”
  • Therefore, he has all eternity to answer every prayer, including yours!

 

VII.   “Why Can’t There Be More than One God?”

This inquiry is another of the common questions about God coming from two groups of people. Firstly, people who worship many gods (polytheists, pantheists, etc.) ask this question. Similarly, people who believe they can make up their own god or gods (e.g., omnism) ask this question about God.

But God’s infinity puts a stop to these wrong-headed notions. “Infinite” means unlimited without boundaries or restrictions.

 

There can only be one God who is infinitely perfect in all his attributes. Two or more godds must differe from each other and cannot be infinitely perfect in all their attributes.

 

And because God is infinitely perfect in all his attributes (Matt. 5:48; Col. 1:16-17), there cannot be more than one God. Why?

Let’s look at this reasoning from a human perspective. Compare two or more humans. They have different attributes. One is more intelligent, taller, thinner, etc. In other words, one has what the other lacks.

Now consider the Christian God. He lacks nothing! All his attributes are both quantitatively and qualitatively infinite. But if two or more “gods” existed, they would have to differ:

  • But to differ from one another, one god must have what the other lacks
  • In other words, neither could be infinite in their attributes.

 

Why?

  • Because if God is infinite in one attribute, then he must be infinite in all his attributes!
  • So, an infinitely perfect God cannot lack anything
  • Therefore, there can only be one perfect being (God)

 

VIII.   I Say “Love” is God’s Greatest Attribute, My Friend Says it’s His “Holiness.” Which of us Is Right?

 

Graphic of quote: All of God's attributes are infinite in quantity and quality, so no attribute can be greater than the others.

 

Even mature Christians can get caught up in this argument! The answer, in a nutshell, is that both are wrong.

 

All of God’s attributes are infinite, both qualitatively and quantitatively! Therefore, no single attribute is more perfect than another.

 

IX.   “How Can God Not have Parts When He Has So Many Attributes?”

 

God's one divine essence is simple: It has no parts, His entire essence can be everywhere at once

This is such an important question! Why?

Because of all the questions about God, this question helps us understand a fundamental distinction that can be easily confused.

This question confuses God’s one divine essence with the attributes used to describe this one divine essence.

In other words, God has one divine essence. And because he is beyond our comprehension, we describe him using attributes that we learn from Scripture.

We get help in understanding and answering this question by considering God’s attribute of simplicity:

  • God is absolutely one in his being or essence
  • Simplicity” means God’s essence is not composed of parts (Rom. 1:20)
  • God’s simplicity explains how his essence can be omnipresent or everywhere at once (Ps. 139:7–10)

 

On the other hand, God’s attributes describe his divine essence. They help finite humans apprehend an eternal and infinite being.

  • God is not made up of one divine essence plus attributes
  • God’s essence is eternal and infinite, and whenever we refer to one of his attributes, it too must be eternal and infinite
  • For example, God does not possess or have knowledge 
  • God is “infinite knowledge”

 

X.   “Doesn’t Simplicity Contradict the Trinity?

Here we go! No sooner did we introduce the attribute of simplicity in Question 9, than critics try to undermine it.

Here’s how one of their questions about God to undermine simplicity is often phrased: “Doesn’t simplicity contradict the Trinity? After all, if there are three Persons of the Trinity, God’s essence must be divided into at least three parts.”

They are wrong and if you were paying attention in Question 1, you already know the answer!

The critics are confusing their categories of the Trinity. God’s simplicity and unity refer to God’s one divine essence.

  • The Trinity is three Persons sharing the one divine essence of God (Matt. 28:19)
  • The three Persons and one essence are different categories
  • Since simplicity has to do with God’s essence, it in no way contradicts the revelation of the Trinity

 

XI.   “How Can God Be Unchangeable?”

One of the more common questions about God is: How can God be unchanging—or immutable—if God described in the Bible as being sorry, repenting, or changing his mind (Gen. 6:6, Gen. 6:7; 1 Sam. 15:11; Jon. 3:10)?”

Let’s be clear it is impossible for God to change (Mal. 3:6; Heb. 13:8; Jas. 1:7). The Bible makes that clear.

Rather than being a contradiction, then, there are several ways to explain the above passages within the context of God’s immutability. 

 

God is immutable. His apparent change is due to

  1. Anthropomorphisms
  2. New stages in the unfolding of his sovereign plan
  3. Humans (not God) changing their relationship with God

 

Firstly, as anthropomorphisms. These describe God’s actions and feelings in human terms and from a human perspective. For example:

  • God does not change; people change the relationship to him (e.g., repentance) (Ex. 32:10–14; Jon. 3:10)
  • God does experience deep emotional sorrow over the things which people do (1 Sam. 15:11)

 

Secondly, Hebrews 1:12 speaks of new stages in the working out of God’s eternal, unchanging plan.

Thirdly, humans can move into a different relationship with God. For instance, God was pleased with his original state of creation. But he is not happy with what sin has done to His perfect creation (Gen. 6:6).

 

XII.   “If God is All-powerful (Omnipotent) and Can Do Anything, Can He Sin or Make a Square Circle?”

Of the questions about God, this shows a misunderstanding of God’s omnipotence. The answer requires establishing an unambiguous yet qualified definition of God’s omnipotence. 

God indeed has unlimited power (Matt. 19:26). But this understanding comes with provisos.

God can do anything (1) consistent with his perfect nature (Rev. 1:8, 19:6) and (2) logically possible. 

However, he will not do anything that goes against his perfect nature. For instance, he cannot lie (Heb. 6:18) or sin (Jas. 1:13).

Furthermore, omnipotence does not mean he can logically do absurd or contradictory things. For example, he cannot make a square circle, cease to be God, or create another God equal to himself.

 

XIII.   What’s Your Next Step?

Were you surprised that these questions about God have answers? At one, time, I was too.

Writing this blog has brought back a flood of memories from the past four decades of my life. Often, those memories were of me floundering—searching for answers to my questions about God. I hope that in discussing some of the same questions I’ve wrestled with, you’ll be better able to understand and defend your own faith.

By studying and learning these answers—searching out their truth for yourself—you will understand God better. And this should lead to greater intimacy with him as you read Scripture, pray, and rely on the Holy Spirit.

And a more intimate relationship with Jesus will foster a desire to share your faith with others.

But an intimate knowledge of God starts with being a genuine believer. Maybe the thought of having an intimate relationship with Jesus sounds foreign—something you’ve never experienced.

If so, I’m glad you are here and reading this article. I encourage you to continue thinking about what I’ve shared. And, if you’re ready to trust in this eternal God who is far greater than we can comprehend, why not make the eternal decision to trust him today?

In my next article, I will discuss one of Christianity’s thorniest issues: How can a good God allow evil and suffering?

 

Further Resources

Binmin Podcast Ep. 8: God & Origins| What Questions Should I Ask About My Faith?

Binmin Podcast Ep.13: Trinity | Putting the Fun in…

Binmin Podcast Ep. 14: Jesus’ Two Natures | Putting the Fun in

Binmin Podcast Ep. 2: “What Is Bible Knowledge?” 2 Parts

 

References

  1. Cairns, A. Dictionary of Theological Terms. Ambassador Emerald International, 2002, p. 417.
  2. Erickson, M. J. Christian Theology. 3rd ed. Baker Academic, 2013, pp 249-250.
  3. Geisler, N. L. “God, Nature Of.” In Baker encyclopedia of Christian apologetics, Baker Books, 1999, p. 285.
  4. — and Ron Rhodes: Conviction without Compromise. Harvest House, 2008, p.25.
  5. —. Systematic theology, volume two: God, creation, Bethany House, 2003, pp. 40, 58, 75, 346.
  6. — and T. A. Howe. When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties, Victor, 1992, pp. 41, 86, 87, 161.
  7. Grudem, W. A. Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine. Zondervan Pub. House, 2004, p. 177.
  8. Klippenstein, R. “Eternity.” In Lexham Theological Wordbook, edited by D. Mangum et al., Lexham Press, 2014.
  9. Ryrie, C. C. Basic Theology: A Popular Systematic Guide to Understanding Biblical Truth. Moody Press, 1999, pp. 41, 48.
  10. Strong, A. H. Systematic Theology, American Baptist Publication Society, 1907, p. 257
  11. Youngblood, R. F., et al. Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Nelson, 1995.

 

 

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