QUICK HIT: Best known for his academic work in theology and philosophy, Dr. William Lane Craig shifts gears in What is God Like? to bring these often complicated doctrines about God to a level that children can understand. In God is Self-Sufficient, Craig introduces the aseity of God, which is easily the most esoteric concept this series covers. I’ll bet even adults will learn something from this one!
Aseity. Microsoft Word doesn’t even recognize it as a word, so let me begin by defining it. Aseity come from Latin and literally means “from self,” so a good working definition is “the quality or state of being self-derived or self-originated.” The title of the book is God is Self-Sufficient, which is a more accessible term even if it’s not the most technically accurate. We use the term self-sufficiency to mean that we can meet our own needs. It is used in contrast of dependence on others. To be self-sufficient is to not need help from others.
What we often fail to realize is that at an ultimate level, nothing that humans do is really self-sufficient. As Scripture says “He existed before anything else and he holds all things together” (Col. 1:17, NLT). That is to say God is both a necessary being, his existence is via necessity of his own nature. God exists like 2+2=4. 2+2, by very definition of the terms, results in 4. God, by the very definition of his nature as uncaused First Cause, must exist. Second, God is not contingent upon anything else. He is the Self-Existent One, the one in whom everything else that is is.
As you may have gathered, this is probably the most esoteric concept that Dr. Craig gets into in the course of this series. Note that it follows a natural progression from book 3, God is Forever, by beginning with a reminder that God was never created and proceeding to the question “Why is God there if no one ever put Him there?”
This is a mind-boggling question even for adults (seriously, most systematic theologies stumble through an explanation). Reducing the concept to self-sufficiency puts in understandable terms. God is the only being whose existence is not contingent or dependent on anything. Understanding this is important, not just because it is true but because it magnifies our concept of who God is and strengthens our view of Him as a being that is capable and in control.
Like the rest of series, Dr. Craig does a great job breaking this one down, though I do wish he had taken a couple more pages to be just a bit more thorough. With this book, more than others, a page of explanation would have been helpful in walking the parent through the concept as well. The back cover copy tries to do this, but in a very short one-paragraph truncated form. Overall, like the rest, a fine addition to the series. Make sure to click on the series link above to see the rest of the books in the series.