Between the move and getting a couple of things off the ground here in Port Arthur, I have not been keeping up with our systematic theology discussion. So to get back on track, here is the second part of our discussion on the doctrine of God:
Perfect being theology suggests that God is “a thoroughly benevolent conscious agent with unlimited knowledge and power who is the necessarily existent, ontologically independent creative source of all else” (Morris, 40). There is no being that can be considered greater than the one that is described. This definition does not grasp all that our canonical heritage has to offer regarding God, but it does point us towards other ways in which we can describe God. Systematic theology refers to these alternatives as God’s attributes.
First, God is uncreated. There is no prior cause for God. Instead, God is the prior cause for all else in creation. God has always been in existence and there is no way for God to go out of existence. Second, God is not dependent upon anything within the created order. Instead, God is radically independent and free to act as God chooses for God’s own good purposes. This is what is meant by God’s “ontological independence” (Morris, 40). Third, God is both omnipotent and omniscient; God is capable of doing and knowing whatever is logically possible for God to do and know. These attributes are not to be mistaken for coercion and tyranny. God neither knows nor acts in such a way that limits the freedom that God has given to humanity. God neither predestines nor causes our actions (Abraham, 2007). Fourth, God is omnipresent. God both created time and space and indwells time and space. This means that God’s agency extended through all of the created order simultaneously (Abraham, 2007). This is only possible if God is both imminent and transcendent. Fifth, God is immutable. As such, God does not change God’s mind and God does not make mistakes (Miles, 2005). The core of God’s being cannot change, age, diminish, nor go away. Additionally, God’s fundamental faithfulness is unfailing. Sixth, God is Divine simplicity; nothing can be subtracted from God (Miles, 2005).
While this delineates some of the more crucial attributes for understanding God, it is by no means an exhaustive list. To be fair to the tradition, theologians have also described God as impassible, infinite, all loving, good, just, holy, worthy of worship, the source of all true human happiness and welfare, and so on. Space constraints do not allow for a description of God that more fully embraces all that can be known about God and God’s self-revelation.
God’s Activity in the World:
From creation to the present, and from now through our final redemption, God has been, is and will continue to be active in the world. God’s activity is seen in the Hebrews’ liberation from Egypt, provision for the Israelites in the wilderness, giving the law through Moses, speaking through the prophets, and in the sending of Jesus. Much can be learned about God by recognizing God’s activity in history. These activities are often associated with specific persons within the Trinity. For example, creation is attributed to God the Father, redemption to the Son, and the establishment of the Church to the Holy Spirit. Discussion of the remaining persons of the Trinity and their activities will occur in their respective loci.
Now it is your turn...what would you add to the list of attributes? How do we experience those additions? Is there an attribute that you would leave out? If so, why?
© Russell Hall/Radically Altered – 2009. All Rights Reserved.