Does God need our help, love, and praise?
—Orville Rutschwan, Hesston, Kansas

This question raises the underlying issue of whether or not God has needs. If so, in what sense?

The Bible commands us to be helpers as members of the body of Christ and to love and to praise God. Does God need our help, love, and praise because he is lonely, and we are an important piece of the puzzle for him to be fulfilled within himself?

No, according to the biblical view. Rather, God is perfect, complete, and entirely self-existent. This view assumes that there is no deficiency within God's inner being.

Paul addressed this issue on the Areopagus in Athens in his debate with philosophers who believed God needed the world. Disagreeing, Paul pointed out that God is the creator of the world and is "not served by human hands, as though he needed anything" (Acts 17:25). Paul believed that God has no inner unmet needs because he is the source of all things. To put it in the form of a mathematical equation, one can say that God minus the world equals God, but the world minus God equals zero.

Theologians who believe God's interaction with the world shapes his inner being hotly debate this traditional view. Trinitarian theology rejects their premise. As Kierkegaard once remarked with irony, it would be very embarrassing if, after having created the world, God should become dependent upon it.

A corollary has to do with divine grace. Grace means God extends unmerited favor to us, but if he created the world because of an unmet need, grace would no longer be grace because what God does for us would be in part selfishly motivated by a deficiency within himself.

Why then did God create the world if he did not need it? Did he create out of a sense of sheer ...

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