how did God create himself :: Connor’s question

by Eric Daryl Meyer

The previous post introduced a question about God from Connor, I’ve since learned that Connor is only five years old.

My instincts were similar to Matt and Grace; that is, to give Connor an answer that will lead him toward years of fresh and different questions in the same vein. So here is the answer I offered.

The Father loves the Son so much that he gives the Son his life; the Son loves the Spirit so much that he gives his life for the Spirit; the Spirit loves the Father so much that he gives his life for the Father. God’s love is so big that everything that God creates, including time, fits inside—and God loves you!

I cheated and used two sentences; but I did write both of them using a green marker!

The fun and challenging part about Connor’s question is that there is no simple answer that will satisfy the question’s underlying motive. Connor understands that speaking of an unmoved Mover begs the question as to whether the infinite regress can “really” end, or whether there is something “beyond” even this unmoved character. The question cannot be answered from within the framework that it is asked, because there will always be one more question searching for the real foundation.

Connor also seems to have a budding trinitarian instinct! He is not asking, “Who created God?” but “How does God create himself?” He seems to know that inquiring about God’s beginning will be a fruitful endeavor only if it receives an answer from within God’s own life. Whether or not he intended to do so, Connor brushes aside the singular, unchangeable, utterly removed, and utterly simple Hellenic notion of Deity. Connor’s questions begins to hint at self-differentiation within God because the notion of Someone without an external beginning is boggling. This is a wonderful question! Both Jurgen Moltmann and Robert Jenson make similar arguments, so Connor is in good company.

Through the self-revelation of the Trinity, we can speak of a logical beginning for God even though we cannot speak of a temporal beginning. God, from all eternity is found in the Father’s begetting of the Son in love, in the Father’s sending of the Spirit, and in the Son’s reflection of the Father’s Spirit of Love back to the Father. Of course, the story of those relationships cannot be said to have “begun.” Never have the begetting, sending, and loving obedience of the three persons ceased or started (from a temporal perspective). Yet, from a relational (or a logical) perspective, it makes sense to speak of God this way because of what God himself has shown us. The Son and the Spirit testify, in the midst of our history, to their relationships with the Father and with one another.

I remember puzzling over questions like Connor’s when I was a young kid. In the years since I’ve learned that they can be framed in philosophical terms and turned into three-hundred pages of dense technical writing, but it is truly remarkable how the questions themselves don’t change all that much. Children are in touch with the deepest mysteries, paradoxes, and tensions in our worldview, even if they don’t have all the “right” words for their questions, and even if they remain unasked. I for one, am thankful!