The Attributes of God—A New Approach: Introduction

Traditional Approach

The Doctrine of God is usually approached using a systematic theology model, i.e. what we know about God from the Bible is classified into a logical system.

  • God’s attributes are classified into headings, sometimes under headings like:
    • God Communicable and Incommunicable attributes (Reformed model)
    • God’s Greatness and Goodness (Millard Erickson)
    • What God is (Attributes of God) and What God does (creation, salvation etc.)

Alternative Approach

  • While such an approach is very useful, it is not how God has chosen to reveal himself.
  • Instead, God has chosen, for the most part, to use stories—historical accounts of his interactions with the universe and especially with human beings.
    • God’s attributes rarely found in the abstract, but usually as part of events that were recorded.
      (The closest we have to systematic presentations would be some of the Epistles, such as Ephesians or Romans.)
    • He reveals himself primarily through relationships (e.g. Adam, Abraham, Moses, Nation of Israel, David, and through Jesus).
    • Particular attributes of God are often revealed in each story. e.g. his faithfulness to Abraham in keeping his promise.
  • If the traditional approach is known as Systematic Theology, then this alternative would be Biblical Theology.
Systematic Theology Biblical Theology
Organize truth into a logical system Ask how God has organized truth
Doctrine of God: divide his attributes into categories How has God decided to reveal his nature and character to us?
Good as an end-point The best place to start

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