The Nature of God
When it comes to the question of the existence of God, here are three of the positions people might take:
Task: What do these terms mean?
There are a number of ways to describe the nature of God from a Christian perspective.
- Monotheism – Christians believe that there is only one God. They are monotheists.
- Trinity – most Christians believe that there are three distinct Persons to this one God and that these three Persons form a unity. This belief is called the doctrine of the Trinity:
- God the Father – the creator and sustainer of all things.
- God the Son – the incarnation of God as a human being, Jesus Christ, on Earth.
- God the Holy Spirit – the power of God which is active in the world, drawing people towards God.
- Holy – God is ‘other’, different from anything else – separate and sacred.
- Omnipotence – God is all-powerful – everything consistent with God’s nature is possible.
- Omniscience – God is all-knowing, of past, present and future.
- Omnibenevolence – God is all-good/all-loving.
- Omnipresence – God is present everywhere.
Task: Look at the following quotes – do they support the idea that God is omniscient, omnibenevolent or omnipotent?
In the beginning God created the heavens and the Earth.Genesis 1:1
But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.Psalm 86:15
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.John 3:16
God is greater than our heart, and He knowns everything.1 John 3:20
The Lord looks down from heaven; he sees all the children of man; from where he sits enthroned he looks out on all the inhabitants of earth.Psalm 33:13-14
Task: The idea of an omnibenevolent and omnipotent God can often cause people to raise the problem of evil in the world. It can be difficult for people to accept that an all-loving and all-powerful God would allow his creation to suffer – how would a Christian respond?
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, ‘Let there be light’ and there was light.Genesis 1:1-3
Task: What does the creation story prove about the nature of God?
Christians believe that human beings were created in the likeness and image of God. The exact meaning of this has been debated. However, all Christians accept that it refers to the idea that humans were made to ‘resemble’ God.
This does not mean that humans are like God in appearance, but that they have been given the same mental, moral and social qualities of God. One thing that is made clear is that humans are the only part of creation to have been made in the image of God. Humans are therefore given a higher status.
Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.Genesis 2:7
Task: Read the information here. How does human nature reflect the nature of God?