Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Attributes of God

One thing that I have discovered in teaching over the past couple of years is the misconceptions and misunderstanding of who God is. The better one understands God and his attributes the better one can discern their relationship to him.

He is originally good, good of Himself, which nothing else is; for all creatures are good only by participation and communication from God. He is essentially good; not only good, but goodness itself: the creature’s good is a superadded quality, in God it is His essence. He is infinitely good; the creature’s good is but a drop, but in God there is an infinite ocean or gathering together of good. He is eternally and immutably good, for He cannot be less good than He is; as there can be no addition made to Him, so no subtraction from Him. God is summum bonum, the chiefest good

God is faithful
God is faithful, totally trustworthy

Infinity of God

When we say that God is infinite, we mean that He is unlimited in every kind of perfection or that every conceivable perfection belongs to Him in the highest conceivable way. We must  admit, in conclusion, that our knowledge of the Infinite is inadequate, and necessarily so since our minds are only finite.

Unity or unicity of God

Obviously there can be only one infinite being, only one God. If several were to exist, none of them would really be infinite, for, to have plurality of natures at all, each should have some perfection not possessed by the others. This will be readily granted by every one who admits the infinity of God, and there is no need to delay in developing what is perfectly clear.

God has life within Himself; His existence is not dependent on any other. Man is a contingent being, God is a necessary being

Simplicity of God

God is a simple being or substance excluding every kind of composition, physical or metaphysical. Physical or real composition is either substantial or accidental — substantial, if the being in question consists of two or more substantial principles, forming parts of a composite whole, as man for example, consists of body and soul; accidental, if the being in question, although simple in its substance (as is the human soul), is capable of possessing accidental perfections (like the actual thoughts and volition of man's soul) not necessarily identical with its substance. Now it is clear that an infinite being cannot be substantially composite, for this would mean that infinity is made up of the union or addition of finite parts — a plain contradiction in terms. Nor can accidental composition be attributed to the infinite since even this would imply a capacity for increased perfection, which the very notion of the infinite excludes. There is not, therefore, and cannot be any physical or real composition in God.

Divine personality

When we say that God is a personal being we mean that He is intelligent and free and distinct from the created universe.


By saying that God is eternal we mean that in essence, life, and action He is altogether beyond temporal limits and relations. He has neither beginning, nor end, nor duration by way of sequence or succession of moments. There is no past or future for God — but only an eternal present.

Immensity and ubiquity, or omnipresence

Space, like time, is one of the measures of the finite, and as by the attribute of eternity, we describe God's transcendence of all temporal limitations, so by the attribute of immensity we express His transcendent relation to space.

Divine knowledge

That God is omniscient or possesses the most perfect 
knowledge of all things, follows from His infinite perfection. In the first place He knows and comprehends Himself fully and adequately, and in the next place He knows all created objects and comprehends their finite and contingent mode of being. Hence He knows them individually or singularly in their finite multiplicity, knows everything possible as well as actual; knows what is bad as well as what is good


In God "there is no change, nor shadow of alteration. Changeableness implies the capacity for increase or diminution of perfection, that is, it implies finiteness and imperfection. But God is infinitely perfect and is necessarily what He is.

God is love
God's very essence is love. God in a way doesn't love but rather is Himself love.

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