God’s attributes cannot be separated from his Being. God and his perfections are one. We may not think of love and righteousness as incidental aspects of God’s character; on the contrary, God is with his whole Being love and righteousness, grace and holiness. Because this is so, one attribute cannot be limited by another. We may not say, for example, that God is not infinitely righteous because he is love. Though the attributes are many, God is one. While we distinguish the attributes for purposes of study, we can never separate them.
This essay will concern itself with the so-called communicable attributes of God. We may define these as attributes to which some analogy is found in man (the incommunicable being those to which no analogy is found in man). It should be remembered, however, that the difference between these two groups of attributes is relative. God possesses all his communicable attributes in an incommunicable way. Whatever we find in man by way of analogy is but a faint reflection of these perfections as found in God.
The following division of the communicable attributes has been adapted from Berkhof’s Systematic Theology: 1. intellectual attributes: knowledge and wisdom; 2. moral attributes: goodness, love, grace, mercy, longsuffering, veracity (including faithfulness), holiness, righteousness; 3. volitional attributes: the sovereign will of God and the sovereign power of God.
Intellectual Attributes. Under the intellectual attributes we note first the knowledge of God. Scripture tells us that “God is light and in him is no darkness at all” (John 1:5—all quotations from ASV). This designation tells us that God knows all things (1 John 3:20). God knows himself thoroughly and completely. Further, God knows all ...1
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