7-Minute Parish Catechesis – Lesson 4 (God’s Attributes)

During the last lesson, we talked about God’s existence.  In this lesson, we will discuss God’s attributes (i.e. His intrinsic characteristics.)

As I go through God’s attributes, please keep in mind that we are made in God’s image and likeness.  Therefore, we are designed to reflect His attributes, albeit in a finite way. 

God not only exists, He is existence, and He cannot fail to exist.

  • Accordingly, God is absolute – If He were not absolute, He would be dependent upon some other being for His existence and, therefore, subject to change by the one on whom He is dependent.
  • God is infinite – In other words, nothing can limit God.  If He has limits, the thing that places limits on Him would be greater than Him.  Clearly, this cannot be. 
  • . God is one – If He has no limits, other gods cannot exist.  If other gods exist, some difference between them would exist, and this would involve nonbeing (meaning something within in them is deficient or lacking); the one could not be what or where the other is.  They would necessarily impose limits on each other, and none would be infinite.
  • God is spirit – He is not material.  To be material is to have a body.  Bodies have limits and are subject to change.  If God were material, one of two conclusions would follow: Either His matter would be everywhere (omnipresent) so that no other matter could exist, or His matter would be limited and would have to move from one place to another.
  • God is eternal – He is not bound by time.  Time is not greater than God.  Rather, God is beyond time.  Also, time marks change.  So, if God is subject to time, He would be subject to change. 
  • God is good/omnibenevolent – Evil is the result of a failed good.  God cannot be or commit evil because that would mean He is deficient in good.  Therefore, He is pure good and love.
  • God is knowledge/omniscient – If God needs to learn, then He previously did not know and He would grow in knowledge over time.  If He had to learn all things, he had a beginning.  If He had a beginning, something created Him, and we run into the infinite regression problem.  He is thus omniscient (all-knowing); He is truth itself.
  • God is power/omnipotent.  If God were not all-powerful, or if He were not power itself, he would have a nature designed to be less powerful and would, therefore, gain or lose power.  Also, if he does not have all power, he would be limited by whatever is preventing Him from having all power and this would involve nonbeing.
  • Putting all this together, namely, God is not deficient in anything, we can conclude that God is perfect.  He is immutable; He cannot change.

Finally, since God is all power, then His will is free.  Since He is all-good, His will is good.  Therefore, God making us in His image and likeness, albeit in a finite way, means God calls us to exercise our free will in a morally upright way. 

God gives us free will to choose the way of love and truth.  Without free will, we would be animals functioning on instinct alone or robot-like creatures programmed to behave in a certain way without choice.  As finite creatures, we sometimes abuse our free will and introduce evil to the world around us.  Therefore, God constantly calls us to amend our lives, to do good, and to reject all evil.