Original Research - Special Collection: The use of the Bible in Theology

Divine designation in the use of the Bible: The quest for an ‘all-powerful God’ (the omnipotence of God) in a pastoral ministry of human empowerment

Daniel J. Louw
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 76, No 4 | a5961 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v76i4.5961 | © 2020 Daniel J. Louw | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 13 February 2020 | Published: 09 December 2020

About the author(s)

Daniel J. Louw, Department of Practical Theology, Faculty of Theology, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa


In our exposure to weakness, vulnerability, loss, anguish and different forms of impairment, the following pastoral theological questions arises: What is meant by divine almightiness within the human need for spiritual strength, empowerment, encouragement and well-being? The epithet of almightiness (omnipotence, pantokratōr) gave birth to fictitious and speculative associations, even fear and anxiety: The paralyzing fear of God Almighty – divine intoxicating and spiritual pathology. Instead of a pantokratōr-definition of God, a paraklēsis-infinition of God is proposed. This paradigm shift is based on the hermeneutical insight, namely, that the El Shadday of Yahweh is based on the respect in Jewish hermeneutics to render God not as a personified substance, but as an ‘operating verb’ – hjh. In the verbing of God, El Shadday points to encouragement, empowerment and a kind of pity and comfort based on the passio Dei.

Contribution: How one perceives the power of God, determines the practice of Christian devotion and spirituality. Therefore, the emphasis on the notion of ‘God Almighty’ (omnipotence of God) and its link to the notion of the ‘weakness of God’ as exposed in the basic outline for a theology of the cross and as a source for hope in pastoral care and compassionate reaching out.


God Almighty; omnipotence of God; God pantokratōr; hermeneutics of paradoxical parallelism; abuse of the Bible in pastoral theology; all-powerful God; human empowerment


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