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Don Stewart :: What Are the Various Ways in Which God's Attributes Are Categorized?

Don Stewart

For convenience sake, those who have carefully studied the Scripture have divided the attributes of God into a number of categories.

There Is No Agreement Upon The Division Of Attributes

There is, however, no agreement among Bible-believers as to how the various attributes of God should be divided - there is no clear, set way in which to list His characteristics. Some divide them along the lines of those shared with humankind, such as love and personality, and those not shared such as infinity, eternity, and all-knowledge (omniscience).

There is much overlap in any division of God's attributes. Because we are describing a person - God - there will be some characteristics of His person that fit into a number of categories. Therefore categorizing them is not that helpful

There Are Comparative And Absolute Attributes

Comparative attributes are those things that humans and God have in common. They are attributes that human beings have that reflect the divine nature. However there are only degrees of comparison. Humans have some knowledge; God has all-knowledge. Humans can be present in one place, God is present everywhere. Humans have some power; God is all-powerful.

Absolute attributes are those qualities that God has that humans cannot know apart from revelation.

There Are Communicable And Incommunicable Attributes

The division into communicable and incommunicable is a similar way of looking at God's attributes. They are as follows.

The Communicable Attributes Defined

Communicable attributes are those that God shares with humans albeit in a limited way. This would include justice, and love. They are not called communicable because God has communicate them to humanity but rather because they are common to God and his highest creation - humanity.

The Incommunicable Attributes Defined

The incommunicable attributes are those things that belong to God and him alone. This includes such things as eternity and infinity.

They Are Not The Same As Human Attributes

One of the problems in studying the attributes of God is the realization that they are not the same as human attributes. Humans can love; God can love. Humans can hate; God can hate. However these attributes are not exactly the same. God's love is perfect; so is His hatred of sin. Our love is not perfect.

Summary

While one may study the individual attributes of God there is no consensus as to how many exist or how we should divide them.

There is also what is known as God's comparative and absolute attributes. Comparative attributes are those characteristics of God that have something in common with humanity while absolute attributes are those which belong to God alone.

CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.

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