Regarding God

  1. Self existing – uncreated – supernatural(beyond the natural universe) – Transcendent
  2. Eternal
  3. All-Knowing
  4. All-Powerful
  5. Personal – Self-aware – Source of all being and personality.
  6. Reasonable
  7. Knowable
  8. Triune – 3 persons/1 substance
    1. Father – is eternal, is a spirit, and the source of all – distinct from the Son and the Spirit but one in essence or substance.
    2. Son – eternal with the Father took on humanity in Jesus – distinct from the Father and the Spirit but one in essence or substance.
    3. Holy Spirit – eternal with the Father and the Son, given to the Church in a new and powerful way at Pentecost. Distinct from the Son and the Father but one in essence or substance.
  9. Creator of all
    1. Source of love, morality, goodness, justice, mercy, grace, reason, logic (in short any good we possess finds its source in God). What about evil? Is God the source of that? No, evil is not properly speaking a thing, it is a lack of a thing. That thing being goodness. Similar to darkness being a lack of light or cold being a lack of heat. Evil is simply a lack of good it is not the creation of either God or the Devil. It is simply a lack of God’s goodness. And in the case of created beings like the Devil or Mankind it is an intentional lack. Due to our God given ability to choose.

<– Return to Foundations of the Way article

Necessary – Un-created – Supernatural – Transcendent

This first set of attributes are in my mind the most basic attributes of God. These speak of the core relationship of God to creation. Unlike everything in creation God is not created. He is the source he is the first and only source of all things. He is necessary in the sense that when you trace the source of everything back you must logically land at a first source. And that source must not have a source or you have not gone all the way back in the chain of causes.

Supernatural and transcendent puts God beyond this physical creation. To be God is to be greater than. Greater than his creation certainly, but also just simply greater than. No matter what you put after “greater than…” , God is greater than… remains true. Unless you try something irrational like God is greater than God or some such nonsense. But this is a serious conversation.

God is greater than… is actually another way of describing what some philosophers describe as a “maximally great being”. A being that simply can not be made greater than it already is. There is nothing that can be added. God is simply greater than all.

Transcendent also speaks of God’s presence everywhere inside and outside of creation. If this were not true, God would not be maximally great since a being that was present everywhere inside and outside of creation would be greater. So God by definition needs to transcendent. There can be no one and nothing greater than God.

Eternal

Since God is greater than creation God can not be dependent on creation. God created this entire reality including time itself, therefore, He must be greater than time. If time was greater than God then time would be God which of course is silly. Time does not have all the great-making properties required for it to be considered maximally great. Therefore God is eternal which does not simply mean that God is very old. It means that there was never a time when God was not. Though our language can not really describe this timelessness properly, God existed “before” time and will exist “after” time. Though before and after are both temporal terms, the point is simple, God is greater than time. He is the cause of this temporal universe, not dependent on it.

All-Knowing and All-powerful

These attributes are also inseparable from the the concept of God as the maximally great being. If there was a being with more knowledge or power, then that being would be God. But there is not – God is God.

Personal – Reasonable – Knowable

God is a person. (in fact, he is three persons in one essence-see below) God is self aware. He is the source of being generally. But specifically he is the source of personal being. He is the “I am”. It is from His being that we derive our being. I have been given self-awareness by the source of self-awareness. The eternal “I am”.

He is also reasonable, God is not a “force” nor some kind of “energy”. He is not a machine, He thinks and reasons. From Him we have our reason. We reason because He is reasonable. He is the source of reason. But this has even more exciting implications.

Because he is a person that is reasonable and has created us as persons that are reasonable. We can know Him. On a personal level, we can interact and know the one that created us as persons, gave us our reason, and our ability to interact with other personal beings. We can not know Him comprehensively but we can know him personally. We could never fully comprehend God any more than you can catch the ocean in a thimble. But that which that thimble contains really is the ocean. It is not soil or air. We can know God truly like a child knows a parent, but as a child with their parent, the knowledge is true knowledge – just not complete knowledge.

No God small enough to fit in my head – is big enough to worship.

Triunity – 3 persons but 1 essence

This topic is worthy of an entire book in its own right. However, for the sake of this article, I will be brief. There is much written on this elsewhere for those you who wish to pursue this topic farther. This link points to an excellent video series available to begin your journey.

For the sake of this discussion, however, I will simply state what the Trinity is so that those who wish to follow God can begin with some understanding of His triune nature. The New Testament scriptures clearly describe three distinct persons when they speak of God. The Father, The Son, and the Holy Spirit. These are referred to as separate persons yet as one God. Personal pronouns are applied to each. Jesus, in particular, describes both the Father and the Holy Spirit as distinct persons that are other than himself while speaking of himself as being one with the Father. He also said that if you have seen him you have seen the Father.

There can be only one God so the language of the Trinity has been refined over the years to facilitate our talking about God without diminishing any of His known attributes. God is 3 persons in 1 essence. All three are truly divine, they are all one, but at the same time distinct persons. They are all eternal. They all have all the attributes of God. There is one God. Jesus is the fountain from which we draw this understanding, but he is also unique in that Jesus was fully human and fully divine. The eternal Son became a man, the man Jesus of Nazareth. I will discuss this more in the upcoming article on the “incarnation”.

Final thoughts on God as creator

There are two questions that are often asked once it is understood that God is the creator of all. The first is a question based on a misunderstanding, “Then who created God?”. God by definition is un-created, God is the first cause, a necessary being. He is not contingent on anything else. No one sensible believes in created gods. A created god is by necessity less than its creator if we create a “god” it is by definition less than us. Therefore a totally useless god.

The second question is more difficult, “Did God create evil?”. The first response to this is no, because evil is not really a thing. Much like dark is the absence of light or cold is the absence of heat. Evil is not a thing it is the rejection of a thing. That thing being goodness. In the case of moral evil this absence was not caused by God it was the result of created beings exercising their God-given ability to choose good, to choose love. God gave us the ability to choose so that we could truly love. Love can not be compelled, it must be freely chosen and given to be actual love.

But that ability to choose love also gave us the ability to choose not to love. To choose evil. Thus evil is a lack of goodness and love. But not a creation of God, it is the result of our(and certain beings in the spiritual realm) choice to not love and do evil.

In order to follow the way of life therefore since God is the source of life. Requires us to choose to reject evil and turn toward God again. Coming back to the source of all that is good. Returning to the path that leads to life requires us to choose. We can not walk the path of self-serving evil and the path of selfless love at the same time. To use Bible language we must repent which literally translated means to turn around. We are on the path of self-gratification and death not the path to life.

Thankfully, Jesus has done what we could never do. His death and resurrection opened a door that we can now all walk through. The door to life eternal in Him. This will become more clear as we continue on in this series.

Glacier Park Lake McDonald

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