What is the Independence of God?

The independence of God is an attribute of God that is largely forgotten about within the Church today. This is both ironic and sad because the independence of God is so fundamental to who God is in and of Himself that most theologians believe the independence of God to be the first and foremost of the incommunicable attributes of God.

I would agree this assessment. Throughout church history this attribute was not called the independence of God but called the ‘aseity’ of God. The term aseity comes from the Latin phrase ‘a se’ meaning ‘from self.’ Many people view the two terms as synonyms but I don’t because the two words, though very related, bring different things to the table. Herman Bavinck makes this argument pointedly saying, ‘While the term aseity expresses more of God’s self-sufficiency in His existence, the term independence tends to have a broader meaning implying that God is independent in everything: in His existence, in His perfections, in His decrees, and in His works.’

So rather than just having the two terms of aseity and independence in play regarding this attribute we could really have 7 terms all talking of similar things: independence, aseity, self-existence, self-sufficiency, self-containment, self-attesting, and self-justifying.

These terms all get at the following meaning:

God exists without receiving His existence from something or someone else. Not only does God know all His knowledge from Himself and not from another source, but He Himself is the standard of such knowledge and truth. God is never moved to act by anything outside of Himself. He looks to no one outside of Himself for approval. This makes His control absolute, unchangeable, not subject to the influence of others. This makes His authority absolute, for no one can urge Him to action or prohibit Him from doing what He desires to do. This also makes His presence absolute, for the whole creation is dependent on Him to exist while He is completely independent apart from the world He made.

God is Yahweh. Exodus 3:14, God is ‘I AM.’ Notice the contrast with us. God is ‘I AM who I AM’ while we must say ‘I am because someone else had me.’

That God is independent means everything else is dependent on Him.

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