Chapter Three: “A Divine Attribute: Something True About God”
“The study of the attributes of God, far from being dull and heavy, may for the enlightened Christian be a sweet and absorbing spiritual exercise. To the soul that is athirst for God, nothing could be more delightful.”(pg 12)
“…an attribute of God is whatever God has in any way revealed as being true of Himself.”(pg 12)
“If an attribute is something true of God, it is also something we can conceive as being true of Him.”(pg 13)
“An attribute, as we can know it, is a mental concept, an intellectual response to God’s self revelation. It is an answer to a question, the reply God makes to our interrogation concerning Himself.”(pg 13)
I am not a father yet (3 more weeks!), but I am sure that as my children get older, and begin to ask questions about my life, I will be very happy that they want to know me. I am going to tell them what they want to know in a way they’ll be able to understand because I want them to know me. In fact I’ll tell them about me even if they don’t ask. At least then they can learn something from my life.
“…God has provided answers; not all the answers, certainly, but enough to satisfy our intellects and ravish our hearts. These answers He has provided in nature, in the scriptures, and in the person of His Son.”(pg 13)
“Though God…has provided answers to our questions concerning Him, the answers by no means lie on the surface. They must be sought by prayer, by long meditation on the written Word, and by earnest and well-disciplined labor.”(pg 14)
People have attributes–the different parts of who we are. Our attributes can change over time. Often people can only see one of our attributes at any given time. People can see your creativity one day, but not see it the next day, because you are actively engaged in something which isn’t creative, say digging holes in your backyard. If no one saw you being creative the day before, and only saw you digging holes, they would not know how creative you could be. Perhaps you will be creative when you are young, but lose that ability when you get old.
God is different. Firstly, He never changes. Secondly, all of His attributes can be seen at the same time. God can be absolutely joyful, and absolutely furious at the same time.
“(God) need not to suspend one (attribute) to exercise another, for Him all His attributes are one. All of God does all that God does; He does not divide Himself to perform a work, but works in the total unity of His being.”(pg 15)
“An attribute, then, is a part of God. It is how God is…The divine attributes are what we know to be true of God. He does not posses them as qualities; they are how God is as He reveals Himself to His creatures. Love, for instance, is not something God has and which may grow or diminish or cease to be. His love is the way God is, and when He loves He is simply being Himself. And so with His other attributes.”(pg 16)
So on to chapter four and God’s attributes…