Understanding God Through (some of) His Attributes

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 Recently my daughter, an artist, created a piece that tried to explain color to a non-sighted person. She did this by assigning textures to each color. Obviously a sighted person can immediately see the short-comings in this comparison. But to the non-sighted this effort was as good as any since color, to them, is an incomprehensible attribute of our world. She was trying to explain by building a bridge from their known world to the unknown world of color.

Trying to explain God is like trying to explain color to a non-sighted person. He is totally incomprehensible. So, the only way to even get a glimpse of God is to build a bridge from our known world to the unknown world of God.

Author and theologian A.W. Tozer builds such a bridge on attributes of God. Tozer, in his book The Knowledge of the Holy, says an attribute is “whatever God has in any way revealed as being true of Himself” (12). Though Tozer shares 19 attributes he maintains, “God, being infinite, must possess attributes about which we can know nothing” (13). So, obviously this explanation of God through attributes falls short.

Though this bridge falls short, Tozer uses it for an important reason: to get the Church thinking rightly about God once again. The sad truth is, the Church does not even realize that she has surrendered her high opinion of God by making Him something manageable and understandable.

Indeed theses ideas “lie buried under the rubbish of conventional religious notions and may require an intelligent and vigorous search before it is finally unearthed and exposed for what it is” (2). We all have heretical thoughts/beliefs about God. One way to unearth these is to read about God’s attributes and compare our ideas to truth.

The Knowledge of the Holy describes 19 attributes of God. Each chapter begins with a prayer and in six to eight pages boils down the essential points of each trait. The information is concise and simple enough for a new Believer and yet deep enough to use as support material for papers in seminary. (Several years ago I read chapter 13, The Divine Transcendence, many times in order to get a grip on that topic for a final.)

Don’t be fooled though. Even were I to memorize each word of The Knowledge of the Holy, I would not fully know God. But any information I do internalize surely helps me grow in knowledge, faith, hope, and love. Every time I read this book my AWE of and for God increases.

NOTE: In October 2006 I wrote about The Knowledge of the Holy here. I had to reread the book for an assignment for today and so updated the report. If you do click back to that post, be sure to answer those questions here.

Entry filed under: Books, Honor Roll, Main. Tags: , , .

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