ReligiousNews 2/3/16 - Divine Attributes of God

[ Masterweb Reports: Evangelist Chi Benedicta Okonkwo reports ] - The Attributes of God are those peculiarities which mark or define the mode of his existence, or which constitute his character. They are not separate nor separable from his essence or nature, and yet are not that essence, but simply have the ground or cause of their existence in it, and are at the same time the peculiarities which constitute the mode and character of his being.


As they are not separable from his essence, so they are not to be regarded as so many different powers and peculiarities or faculties, which so belong to God that he is “ composed of different elements.” Hedge, 1:369. This would take away the simplicity of the divine nature and make it compound and therefore divisible and changeable.


But, on the other hand, they are not simply our different conceptions of God. They have existence independently of his creatures. There are some true foundations in God himself for the distinctions between them, so that, when we speak of God as wise, we do not only say that we conceive of him differently than when we call him just, but we mean that there is that in God which makes it proper that we should conceive of him under the different aspects of wisdom and justice.




Various divisions have been made of the attributes of God.


1.One is into communicable and incommunicable.


The communicable attributes are those which, to a limited degree, he can also bestow upon his creatures. Such are power, knowledge, wisdom, love, holiness, and so on.


The incommunicable are those which cannot thus be bestowed, but which, of necessity, exist only in God. Such are self-existence, immutability, and infinity including immensity and eternity.


2.Another division is into relative and absolute. The relative are those which may be exercised towards objects which are without, the absolute, which exist only in connection with God.


3.Still another division is into transient attributes, or such as pass to his creatures, and immanent, or such as ever remain in God alone.


4.A fourth division is into positive and negative attributes, the positive being those which ascribe perfections to God, and the negative those which deny imperfections.


These four divisions are however identical. The attributes ranked under the communicable are also placed among the relative, and the transient, and the positive, and those defined as incommunicable are classified as absolute, immanent, and negative.


5.A further division has been made into the natural and moral attributes.


By the natural attributes are meant those which describe the mode of his existence without respect to personal character; by the moral, those which describe his character.




By this we mean, that the nature of God, comprising his essence and his attributes, is simple or uncompounded.


It means more than his unity, for the latter expresses only the fact that there is but one being, that is, God. Were God both matter and spirit, or compounded in any other way, his unity would not be affected.


Were there but one man in the world, we should ascribe to him unity, and if there could be but one we should ascribe essential unity.


It means more than the spirituality of God, for that includes only that he must be spiritual, and, also, as we have seen, that he should be purely spiritual.


But there is nothing contradictory in the idea, that created spirits might have a composite spiritual nature, composed, for example, of mind, soul and spirit, as three distinct essences, or that a spiritual nature should have a spiritual body, as well as a spiritual soul.


But in God there can be no composition, and therefore his spiritual nature must be uncompounded. Even his attributes and his nature must be in such a manner, one, that his attributes essentially inhere in that nature and are not capable of separation from it, which really makes them one with that nature.


The reasons for this are:


1.Because composition ( or a putting together,) involves possibility of separation. But this would involve destructibility, and changeableness, each of which is inconsistent with absolute perfection and necessary existence.


2. Composition involves a time of separate existence of the parts compounded. If so, then there was a time when God did not exist, because the parts of his nature had not been united, or, when he existed imperfectly, not having yet received to his essential nature the additions subsequently made; of which is inconsistent with absolute perfection and necessary existence.


3. If the parts have been compounded, they have been done by some forces from without, or has been a growth in his nature. They have not been added from without, because, God is independent, and therefore cannot be affected from without. Besides, all outward form and all else than God had its origin in him, and he existed as God before it. There have not been a growth in him, for, if so, he is not unchangeable. Any such addition to God or growth in him is also inconsistent with absolute perfection and necessary existence.

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