The Attributes of God – Communicable Attributes

Yesterday my family and I discussed the application questions for Chapter 11, “The Character of God: ‘Incommunicable’ Attributes,” of Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology (Zondervan, 1994), which we’re reading in our after breakfast Bible reading time. To share with you from our discussion, I’d have to give the questions that prompted it, which would violate the book’s copyright, and so I’m not going to.

Instead I’ll distinguish again between God’s incommunicable and communicable attributes and note how Grudem categorizes the latter in Chapters 12 and 13 of Systematic Theology.

The incommunicable attributes of God are those attributes that He does not share or communicate with others. Examples are His unchangeableness, His eternity, and His omnipresence, each of which is an attribute of Him but not of us.

The communicable attributes of God are those attributes that He shares or communicates with others. Examples are His knowledge, His wisdom, His love, His mercy, and His justice, each of which not only is an attribute of Him but also can be shown by us.

However, as Grudem explained when introducing Chapter 11, there is no attribute of God that is completely incommunicable or communicable. For example, although unlike God we aren’t unchangeable, some aspects of our character remain largely unchanged (and will be even more so when go to be with Him). And, although we can share some of God’s knowledge, we can never share all of it.

Grudem divides the communicable attributes into these main divisions, each containing two or more attributes:
– Attributes Describing God’s Being
– Mental Attributes
– Moral Attributes
– Attributes of Purpose
– “Summary” Attributes
However he observes that what each attribute means and how we can imitate it is more important than being able to categorize it exactly as he does.

I noted when introducing the attributes of God that, although Grudem’s explanations of the attributes varied in length from about half a page to almost six pages, my family and I were planning to spend one day for each in our family Bible reading and thus I was planning to devote one post to each here. We plan to continue doing that.

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