Theology Proper (attributes of God part 1)

Now that we know from where we get our information to do Theology, we can begin the process of putting together a clear understanding of the Biblical revelation. So in our march through practical theology we begin at the top; with God.

Now for starters, we cannot ascend to heaven and shake Gods’ hand and introduce ourselves; we must instead piece together an understanding of who He is based on what He has revealed to us. And thankfully for us “bugs in the jar” the boy who put us here has revealed quite a lot of information both directly and indirectly.

And by the way; we address God as He, not because of some vast patriarchal conspiracy to oppress and suppress women, but because God uses that designation of Himself. Or to put it in modern American terminology; the Deity of Holy Scripture has self-identified as a He, to refer to Him as anything else makes you a hateful, intolerant bigot or something.

Now then, we describe God in theology through the understanding of His attributes; the things that make Him, Him. First off, God is spirit; He has no physical body. But, but, but what about descriptions of His hands moving and His eyes seeing? These are called anthropomorphisms; the ascribing of human characteristics and traits to non-human entities (think Bugs Bunny: wascally, wabbits don’t walk upright and talk or build bombs etc.—those are anthropomorphisms) But, but, but God appeared to people: (Adam & Eve, Abraham, Jacob, Moses); yup: these are called Theophanies; temporary manifestation of God. And in some instances we have Christophanies (temporary manifestations of a pre-incarnate (pre-born) Jesus). I am actually a firm believer that places in the Old Testament where God “appears” in human form are all Christophanies; walking in the Garden (Genesis 3), overlooking Sodom & Gomorrah (Genesis 18), wrestling with Jacob (Genesis 32), and all the “angel of the Lord” references. But you get the idea.

God is also personal. He is an individual being, which is self-conscious, and capable of feeling and choosing. God has a name (Exodus 3:14) and this name can be known; and He makes Himself known to people (Scripture) and through direct involvement. God is also life, and I mean it. He does not possess the quality of life (like we do), but rather is the source of life. We as humans are alive; He is life Himself (itself?). Without God we are fresh out of existence; God on the other hand, needs no other sustenance to “keep” Him.

God is also infinite, with no beginning and no end. That means He has infinite “ability” as well: the three omni’s is usually how these are presented: omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent. Omnipresent means God is unlimited in space and time and cannot be localized; or He is everywhere, at every time (This is where that whole spirit thing is helpful). I say every time also, because God does not age; He has no birthday or “start date”. He is the one who is, and was, and is to come. Omniscient means God is unlimited in: knowledge, wisdom, and understanding; He even knows more than Google J. This understanding is not limited to “trivia” or knowing things, this understanding is basic to who God is; can He answer any question you ask, yes. Even more so, He knows the question you will ask, why you will ask it, and beyond that, the very innermost things of you as the asker. Omnipotent means God is unlimited in power. That does not mean He is capable of doing anything (God cannot lie, deny Himself, etc). It does mean there is no power in Creation above Him; God can do all things that are proper objects of His power. I know what you are thinking; can God make a rock so heavy he can’t lift it? No, because the question makes no sense. Here’s what I mean; how much weight can God lift? Answer: an infinite amount of weight. Is a rock a finite or infinite thing? Answer: it is finite. Can a finite object have infinite weight? Answer: no, that question is illogical as finite things have finite qualities. Ding, ding, ding; you win, the rock question (just like the square/circle one) is illogical and reveals more about the presuppositions of the asker it does than God.

Last on our list of attributes for the day, God is constant. He is unchanging (Psalm 102) and is the same: yesterday, today, and forever. This is both quantitative (God does not grow or learn) and it is qualitative (God does not mature). He is God; holy in being and wholly perfect.


So what?!?? You said this stuff was going to be important to my life!!!!!

Because we have a God who is not limited by our physical malady’s we can trust Him to be there. He does not have to take time out from running existence to trim His toenails; He does not have to stop watching over my church to oversee a thunderstorm in Malaysia; He does not blink, or sleep, or miss a meal. He is always there, and not just there, but there and able to do something about it.

Our God is not some innocent bystander hoping and praying things will work out correctly. He is great in His power and wisdom; mighty in His presence and knowledge. And He calls to us (Matthew 11:28 – 30), He calls us to: trust Him, bring our burdens to His throne, and work in the ways He has set us. He is so far beyond us that we cannot comprehend Him and that is a marvelous and good thing; because it means in Him we can rest. We can quit trying to be the God of our own world and know the One who is God is more than capable of caring for everything that comes my way.