GOD IS SELF-EXISTENT
A being without beginning or end is uncaused.1 Nothing created God, God simply exists. Again, Genesis 1:1 states, “in the beginning God.” God’s existence is stated here as a self-evident truth. Unlike ancient pagan cosmologies, Scripture provides no origin tale for God.2 This lack of a record is meant to support the truth of God’s self-existence.
Self-existence means that God is the source of His existence. God is independent of anything or anyone else; He is the source of His own life (John 5:26). To deny that God is self-existent is to deny the clear teachings of Scripture. Furthermore, a God that is not self-existent is no God at all. Such a denial makes one a fool (Psalm 14:1).
Everything in the created realm is dependent on something else. This dependency is called causation. The Law of Causation states, “Everything which exists in the world must have an adequate cause; and if this is so, the universe must also have an adequate cause, that is a cause which is indefinitely great.”3 In other words, nothing can happen without being caused. Also, the Law of Causation states, “Everything which has a beginning has a cause.”4
Does causation undermine the reality of God’s self-existence? No, it does not. First, the Law of Causation has limitations. It is limited to those things which have a beginning. Scripture says that God has no beginning (Psalm 90:2). Also, note the phrases, ‘everything which exists in the world’ and ‘the universe must also have an adequate cause.’ Causation is limited to the created realm. Since God is eternal, He exists outside of the created realm and not beholden to the Law of Causation.
Second, the Law of Causation requires that everything which exists have an indefinitely greater cause. In other words, something larger than the universe must exist, which in turn created the universe. The Scripture states that God created the universe (Genesis 1:1). The phrase, ‘the heavens and the earth’ is a Hebraic figure of speech which refers to the universe (cf. Genesis 14:19, 22; 2 Kings 19:15; Psalm 121:2).5
Third, that Causation is a Law necessitates the need for a lawgiver. The Scripture states that the Law of Causation is a God-ordained law (Hebrews 3:4). The one who builds all things is none other than God. God is the only cause, and there are no others (Isaiah 41:4; 44:6; 45:5; 46:9). Genesis 1:1 reveals that the eternal God is self-sufficient.
1. Stanley Grenz, David Guretzki, Cherith Fee Nordling, Pocket Dictionary of Theological Terms (Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1999), 47.
2. Nahum M. Sarna, Genesis, The JPS Torah Commentary (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1989), 5.
3. L. Berkhof, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1938), 26.
4. W.T. Stace, A Critical History of Greek Philosophy (London: MacMillan and Co., 1934), 6.
5. This is known as a merism in which two opposite terms or ideas are joined together into a single, all inclusive concept or idea.
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Rev. Gregory G. capel, jr
Pastor of Trinity Bible Church, Administrator of Trinity Biblical School of Theology, and President of Beginning with Genesis Ministries