Which attribute is the first of them all?

Discussion in 'Theological Forum' started by Von, Feb 10, 2018.

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  1. Von

    Von Puritan Board Freshman

    I'm about to start teaching a small group through the attributes of God (not the book by AW Pink...). In your opinion, which attribute should be taught / looked at first and why? I've decided to start with His eternality.
  2. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Professor

    Holy. Holy , Holy is the Lord God the Almighty...
  3. greenbaggins

    greenbaggins Administrator Staff Member

    Have to agree with David on this one, although (important qualifier) it is equally important to point out that each attribute IS God's being, looked at from a slightly different angle. Sproul's book on the holiness of God is vital.
  4. Ed Walsh

    Ed Walsh Puritan Board Junior

    The Shorter Catechism, "What is God," begins the answer with, "God is a Spirit."

    I uploaded the above SCQ 4 from Fisher's Catechism. It has 170 sub-questions and answers.

    Attached Files:

  5. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    If attribute = essence, can you even answer this question?

    Augustine: To be is the same as to be wise.
  6. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    I would not try to pick out an attribute first because you think it is more important. Perhaps a summary of all the attributes would be best, reminding them that the attributes are not various traits that God has, but rather what God is.
  7. Cymro

    Cymro Puritan Board Junior

    From memory I think Edward’s maintained that Holiness was the first attribute, without which all other attributes would be tainted and suspect. Omnipotence would be despotic and even love carnal. (My paraphrase) But I can’t remember where he states this.
  8. Jack K

    Jack K Puritan Board Professor

    Although holiness is often considered the first attribute of God, this doesn't mean it has to be the first thing you study. I probably would not begin with a moral attribute like holiness, but rather with an attribute of God's basic being (like how he is spirit) or one that is more of an umbrella attribute (like his perfection or his glory).

    That said, I'm not sure it matters all that much where you start.
  9. OPC'n

    OPC'n Puritan Board Doctor

    I would say perfection is the most important. Perfection defines all his other attributes. If he were not perfectly holy, then he could alway become more holy. If he were not perfectly immutable, he could always become more immutable etc.
  10. Von

    Von Puritan Board Freshman

    I always equated the perfections of God with His attributes. Am I wrong in this?
  11. Von

    Von Puritan Board Freshman

    Thank you for your input thus far.
    These were good reminders! It's so easy to slip into an academic treatment of the subject...(Read: Prayer needed)

    I understand that all the attributes are equal and none are before the other.
    However - since God has made Himself known and a knowledge of Him is impossible unless it be revealed to us, which attribute in the flow of Scripture was revealed first?
    This is why I decided to start with the eternality of God, since Genesis starts with "In the Beginning, God...".

    In Fisher's catechism (thanks Ed!), he starts with the INFINITY of God and then move on to God's ETERNITY.
  12. bookslover

    bookslover Puritan Board Professor

    Actually, it should be "God is spirit" - without the indefinite article. I realize, though, that they worded things differently back in the Olden Times.
  13. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    Any distinctions as to which attribute is "most/prior/best" is a non-starter, since there aren't any real distinctions in God. Muller writes: "Plurality in God is secundum rationem, not secundum re (PRRD III:55).
  14. Von

    Von Puritan Board Freshman

    Is "first revealed in Scripture" acceptable?
  15. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    I suppose. I don't see why not.
  16. earl40

    earl40 Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    So far as one understands it is ectypal and not archetypal....like we can comprehend God as He is in the divine sense which we cannot.
  17. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    Yeah, my point was, as Muller notes, is that you can't make any real distinctions--only logical ones. At least that's how the Western tradition says. We say "Goodness," or "Wise" but they aren't different from the divine essence (think of a big metaphysical = sign)
  18. Ask Mr. Religion

    Ask Mr. Religion Flatly Unflappable Staff Member

    I do not know if this would be the best litmus test, as it were. Then again, if it were so, God's aseity would be the first revealed attribute: "In the beginning, God..."
  19. BGF

    BGF Puritan Board Sophomore

    I would start with simplicity. This will introduce the idea that God's attributes are identical with his essence and perfectly consistent. It will help guard against the tendency to think of God as the sum of His attributes, or that they are parts of God.
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