Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem, part 10
Chapter 11 – The Character of God: “Incommunicable Attributes”
“Incommunicable Attributes” refers to how God is different from us. These are attributes that God does not share or “communicate” to others. So while communicable attributes would be things like love, mercy, justice, etc, incommunicable attributes are things like God’s eternity, unchangeableness, or omnipresence (to use the examples Wayne Grudem uses off the bat). We learn a lot about these incommunicable attributes of God through the various names of God. “In the Bible a person’s name is a description of his or her character. Likewise, the names of God in Scripture are various descriptions of his character (pg 157).”
It’s crazy the sheer number of names and descriptions for God there are in the Bible. I wish I could cut and paste Grudem’s near exhaustive list, but it ranges from animal descriptions like lion, eagle, lamb, to other things in nature like the sun, the morning star, a torch, a tower, a shield, a temple, a bridegroom, a husband, a father, a shepherd, a physician, etc. Scripture even talks about God’s eyes, mouth, hands, feet, neck, tongue, arms…physical attributes similar to a human body that God does not actually possess but best sum up some of his attributes.
“The point of collecting all these passages is to show, first, that in one sense or another all of creation reveals something about God to us, and that the higher creation, especially man who is made in God’s image, reveals him more fully (pg 159).”
So let’s follow Wayne Grudem as he lists out the incommunicable attributes of God. Since there is so much here, I’m just going to summarize this massive chapter.
Independance. “God does not need us or the rest of creation for anything, yet we and the rest of creation can glorify him and bring him joy (pg 160).”
Unchangeableness. “God is unchanging in his being, perfections, purposes, and promises, yet God does act and feel emotions, and he acts and feels differently in response to different situations (pg 163).”
Eternity. “God has no beginning, end, or succession of moments in his own being, and he sees all time equally vividly, yet God sees events in time and acts in time (pg 168).”
Omnipresence. “God does not have size or spatial dimensions and is present at every point in space with his whole being, yet God acts differently in different places (pg 173).”
Unity. “God is not divided into parts, yet we see different attributes of God emphasized at different times (pg 177).”
So those are the incommunicable attributes of God that Wayne Grudem lists. Next, we look at the first part of the Communicable Attributes of God.