Attributes of God - SUMMARISED

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  • Created on: 11-06-14 19:00
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1. God is timeless, past present and future are alike
o E.g. Anselm, Augustine, Boethius, Aquinas and Schleiermacher
o God exists outside of time which is an aspect of the created world
which God is in control of; time is something introduced by God
rather than something to which God is subject
o `thy years neither come nor go' Augustine
o God is not bound by time he is everywhere at once
o God's omnipotence is not threatened and allows him to be
immutable, if he were bound by time this would limit him
o If he were within time he would not meet Anselm's definition of God
as you could conceive of a greater being who was not bound by time
o `He who goes along the road does not see those who come
after him; whereas he who sees the whole road from a height
sees at once all those travelling on it' Aquinas
o HOWEVER; this contradicts a plain reading of the scriptures yet
supporters use the counter-argument that we ought to understand
these texts metaphorically or analogically
o If God is outside time is it harder to see him as being personal and
active within the world, yet again a counter-argument is used that God
can still change things in time and this does not affect him
2. Everlasting within time
o Time passes for God, though this does not reduce his power
o Richard Swinburne supports this, arguing that the idea of events
occurring simultaneously to God cannot be made sense of and also it
is more coherent with God as revealed in the Bible;
`I will make you exceedingly fruitful' (Genesis:17)
`I will remember my covenant' (Genesis 9:15)
`God remembered Noah' (Genesis 8:1)
o If God is timeless and therefore immutable, God cannot be said to
have a life; he would not be able to change and respond to others;
unable to love as love is not compatible with immutability.
o Swinburne says `If God has fixed intentions for all eternity he
would be a very lifeless thing...Yet, the God of the Old
Testament, is a God in continual interaction with men' (The
Coherence of Theism)
o `I have heard your prayer and seen your tears, I will add fifteen
years to your life' (Isaiah) Shows God's purposes are not fixed for

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God moves through time with creation and changes with it (process
God can do anything; `For there is nothing that God cannot do' Luke 1:37
Unless God has omnipotence, he would not be able to carry out his plans for the
Both Anslem and Descartes depended on this understanding of God when they
formed their ontological arguments, claiming God is `that than which nothing
greater can be conceived'.…read more

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John Macquarrie used this as an explanation to how Jesus could be the son of God
without always displaying God's omnipotence; `And being found in appearance as
a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death' (Philippians 2:5-8)
Developed from this was the doctrine of kenosis; God `emptied himself' of his
own omnipotence in order to come to earth as a man
Peter Geach noted that the Greek word used to describe God, `Pantokrator'
actually translated as `almighty'; power over everything not power to…read more

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allows free will
o Richard Swinburne who believed God is everlasting said God has
knowledge of everything logically possible to know
o This may include future events that are predictable by physical laws but
leaves aside free will choices
o Peter Geach uses the analogy of playing chess with a grandmaster; you
are free to move where ever you want but the grandmaster will eventually
o However these weaken omniscience similar to Process Theology
Act of creation can be seen…read more

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Other stories such as the killing off of humanity (apart from a select few) via the
Flood, Job's extreme suffering to test his faith and God wiping out many tribes to
protect and establish a land for `his people' also question God's benevolence
There are times when God's punishments seem completely unjust; when King David
has Uriah killed to marry his wife, God's punishment is to kill David's baby son
Richard Dawkins says `the God of the Old Testament is arguably the most
unpleasant character…read more


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