Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Attributes of God

I wish to compare two contrasting views of the attributes of God. The standard Christian view generally is a list of attributes based somewhat on Scripture and to a large extent on what seems appropriate for someone like God (dignum deo).

I refer you to sample lists here and here.

I wish to focus on five attributes that people in general seem to accept without question: Omnipotence, Omnipresence, Omniscience, Immutability and Impassibility. In the first three, people tend to get defensive when somebody else says, "Really?" They often question the motives of the questioner as if there were some surly goal behind the question. "You don't accept omnipotence? You are trying to limit God!"

Anyway, it is my goal in this article to present two contrasting lists. One is the standard Christian list of divine attributes. The other comes from the article on "God" by Terence Fretheim in the Eerdman's Dictionary of the Bible. I wish to highlight the features of this lists that do not overlap. In the interest of time, I will present an edited list from Fretheim as well.

Theopedia, et. al.
Omnipotence: God is all powerful. Matthew 19:26
Omnipresence: God is everywhere. 1 Kings 8:27; Jeremiah 23:24; Psalm 139:7-10
Omniscience: God has all knowledge. 1 John 3:20; Romans 16:27; Psalm 147:5; Hebrews 4:13
Immutability: God does not and cannot change. Malachi 3:6; James 1:17; Hebrews 6:17
Impassibility: God has no emotions. (no Scriptures, but it follows from omnipotence and Immutability)
Simplicity: God is not composed of parts. (no Scriptures, but it follows from the dignum deo assumption)

Active: God acts within the world. Romans 3:29; Genesis 1:1-11; Romans 11:36; Hebrews 2:10; Amos 9:7
Effective: God's actions are effective. Creation; Exodus; Incarnation; Cross; Pentecost; 2 Corinthians 5:17-21; Genesis 22:12; Deuteronomy 8:2
Present: God fills heaven and earth. Jeremiah 23:24; Psalm 139:1-24; 33:5; 36:5; Romans 8:38-39; Ephesians 4:6; Acts 17:28
Intentional: God acts from his own will. 1 Timothy 2:4; Genesis 12:3; Romans 11:32
Situational: God's actions are situationally appropriate. Galatians 4:4; Exodus 3:7-10; 9:16; Isaiah 43:25
Relational: God is interested in relationship. Psalm 31:2; Isaiah 65:1-2; Genesis 8:21-22; Psalm 8:1-9; Hebrews 8:8-12; Genesis 15:7-21
Vulnerable: God's activity is not inevitably successful. Ezekiel 2:7; Zechariah 7:11; Jeremiah 6:10; 23:17; 3:19-20; Luke 8:12; Hosea 11:1-9

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