Monday, June 07, 2010

Sunday Oden 3: Nature and Character of God

Not Sunday, but alas...

Oden divides the attributes of God into three categories. Chapter 2 is about God's intrinsic attributes and His relational attributes. Chapter 3 is about His personal attributes, those similar to human character. Parentheses are Oden, brackets are me talking...

Intrinsic Attributes (incommunicable, primary, essential attributes)
  • God is before time. [understandably, we can't quite be sure what this means]
  • God is self-sufficient (aseity). [I think I disagree with where Oden will take this, namely, when he claims that God's self-sufficiency does not imply He could have been as happy without the creation. I personally think God was just fine without it. Maybe I misunderstand Oden]
  • God is one.
  • God is not composed of parts (simplicity). [I never understood this one--I suspect it is a pre-modern left-over that has more to do with the way God looks to us within the creation rather than the mysterious ineffable of God beyond the creation]
  • God is infinite.
  • God is immeasurable.
  • God is eternal.
  • God has no impulse to suicide. :-)
  • God is incomparibly alive.
Relational Attributes
  • omnipresent
  • omniscient (Oden claims that the Arminian position on foreknowledge is the consensual one, and thus that Augustine and Calvin are the exception rather than the rule)
  • omnipotence (God can do anything consistent with who He is; He allows for secondary causes and thus does not directly cause everything that happens; He is transcendent)
Personal Attributes (chapter 3)
  • Scripture represents God with personal characteristics [although we always have to be careful about anthropomorphism] God can say "I."
  • God has a name.
  • Impersonal terms inadequate
  • God is Spirit.
  • God has a free will. [classically, His freedom is connected to His nature, meaning that in a very real sense, God is not free to tell someone to murder their child... oops. I am slightly unorthodox here in that I see God's freedom as more extensive than what we think of as His nature]
  • "God deals with human beings not coersively but persuasively" (61).
  • Among God's chief moral characteristics are holiness and love, where Oden defines holiness as perfect goodness [I personally don't think that this is the primary meaning of holiness in the Old Testament. I think it imposes a much later understanding of goodness on an Ancient Near Eastern world]
  • God is love--1 John defines God most succinctly [technically not a definition but a metonymy where something associated with something else is metaphorically used to describe it. The standard distinction between types of loves is also an overreading, although we can probably see a distinction between eros and agape far more than between agape and filos]

Divine happiness brings together all His attributes.

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