The Attributes of God

By James M. Rochford

Is Studying the Nature of God Important?

The study of the attributes of God is called theology proper. In this aspect of theology, the student of Scripture assesses all of the biblical data regarding the different attributes or characteristics of God. We feel that this aspect of theology is very important for at least two central reasons:

First, our view of God will have a profound effect on how we follow God. Consider if someone told you a rumor about your boss—that he had forcefully groped his young secretary at the New Year’s Eve party last year. How would that affect your ability to serve and work with that man? Surely your view of him would permeate and affect every interaction that you had with him. But what would happen if you later found out that the rumor had been completely false, and the young secretary had made it up to malign his character? The truth or falsity about his character would greatly affect the way you worked with him and related to him. In the same way, our beliefs about God will have a profound effect our walk with him. Some people conceive of God as a cosmic cop in the sky; others as a doting grandfather who wants to spoil his grandchildren on Earth. Either of these false beliefs will have perilous results in the life of the believer.

Second, atheistic critics often intentionally mischaracterize God to make it easier to undermine theism. For instance, atheistic critics often refer to a “bearded deity” akin to Zeus, or a “Sky Daddy,” or even just a “superhuman” being (per Richard Dawkins).[1] Of course, as biblical Christians, we can quickly respond that we don’t believe in a God like this either! However, these characterizations often make the very concept of God to be ridiculous to believe in. Carefully constructed definitions and explanations of God’s nature are in order.

Third, atheistic critics of Christianity often attack the internal consistency of God’s attributes. This subject is called the coherence of theism. If the critic could point out an internal inconsistency within the nature of God, this would provide good evidence against theism. Therefore, it is important to have a deep grasp on these concepts in order to defend our faith.

1. Omniscience

2. Omnipotence

3. Omnipresence

4. Sovereignty

5. Loving

6. Righteous and Just

7. Immutability

8. Immateriality

9. Self-existence

10. Veracity

Further Reading

Moreland, James Porter, and William Lane. Craig. Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2003. “Chapters 25 & 26: The Coherence of Theism.”

Packer, J. I. Knowing God. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1973. “Part Two: Behold Your God!”

Erickson, Millard. Christian theology. (2nd ed.). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House. 1998. “Part Three: What is God Like?”

By Charles Taliaferro and Elsa J. Marty. Edited by Copan, Paul, and William Lane Craig. Contending with Christianity’s Critics: Answering New Atheists & Other Objectors. Nashville: B & H Academic, 2009. “Chapter 13: The Coherence of Theism.”

[1] Dawkins, Richard. The God Delusion. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2006. 31, 106.