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What are the claimed properties of God that define Christianity, and what is the basis or reason for each attribution?

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Since this site's definition of "Christian" is based on self-identification (including Christian atheism allows even existence to be a not universally agreed upon property among "Christians"), restricting the question to Nicene Christianity might make it more answerable within site standards. Even so this question might be difficult to answer as attributes can multiply as one increases specificity. –  Paul A. Clayton Oct 22 '13 at 2:32
    
Related and might interest you –  Seek forgiveness Oct 22 '13 at 8:26
    
All of the attributes associated with the ever living God of Abraham which the Jewish tradition also claim as the properties of God - with this distinct difference, he is also Jesus. –  The Freemason Oct 22 '13 at 16:39
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closed as too broad by Peter Turner, fredsbend, Affable Geek, Flimzy, Mawia Oct 23 '13 at 6:35

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This is a pretty broad question, and you have to understand that there are varying views within Christianity. There's no one, single understanding, but here is a fairly comprehensive list. Assume in this list that it applies to most groups within Christianity unless otherwise noted. I'm going to ignore such groups a s "Christian Atheists" (Who would answer with one attribute: "Imaginary".) or "Christian witches" and focus on more mainstream commonly accepted Christian circles.

Also, in the interest of brevity, I'm going to NOT directly include "what is the basis" for each. Instead, I'm linking on each to an article that explores each attribute in further detail. The basis for each attribute is, ultimately, Scripture. Most of the articles linked to offer several verses supporting each attribute.


  • Omniscient: God is all knowing, without limitation - even as far as past/present go. He knows all that has ever happened and all that will. He knows each star that he created, by name.
  • Omnipotent: God is infinite in His power. He can do anything.
    • Some would say that this means Intrinsically possible. Misunderstandings of the definition of "Omnipotent" lead to foolish questions like "Can God create a rock so big He can't lift it?"
    • Others believe that this limitation doesn't apply, and God id limited only by His own perfect nature ans will.
  • Omnibenevolent - God is purely good. There is no evil in Him. Note that this doesn't mean purely kind. He is not limited to our personal understanding of what "good" is. Put simply, God knows more than we, in our limited capacity do. What we might consider "cruel" or "not fair" may be good. Just like a child might not understand why his parents discipline him for dangerous behavior, we may not understand why God does what he does.

Side note #1: Taking a break in the list here, many atheists use the above three attributes to come up with arguments that God couldn't possibly be all three, or evil wouldn't exist. That's addressed here.


  • Sovereign: God is completely sovereign. he answers to nobody, and everybody answers to Him.
    • There is some debate on what this means for free will. Some say that free will is an illusion because if we had any free will, Cod's sovereignty would be nullified In other words, He is in complete and total control. Others say that He grants us free will, but he could assert His sovereignty at any time. There are other views as well.
    • Some also use god's sovereignty to show that God is evil because He allows suffering. Again, see side note #1.
  • Infinite: God is without limits. He is limited only by His will and what is intrinsically possible.
  • Patient (aka longsuffering): God is slow to anger, quick to forgive. Which is good, because when I look at my own behavior over my lifetime, I can't help but think that, were I in God's place, I'd have been a crispy critter long ago.
  • Holy: God is separate from sin and is completely, utterly, incorruptible.
  • Impeccable: Strongly related to holiness, God is completely unable to sin.
  • Immutable: God Cannot change.
    • Side note, skeptics sometimes point to verses that showed that God repented and decided not to smite this group or that. That's addressed here.
  • Omnipresent: God is everywhere, always, all at once.
  • Transcendent: God exists outside space and time or anything else he has made. he is not limited by either.
  • Immanent: Closely related to "Omnipresence": God is always near.
  • Jealous: God is jealous of glory due Him being given to another god, and righteously so. This is to be distinguished from petty jealousy (envy).
  • Righteous: God is completely Right, or Just. It is His righteousness that demands that sin not go unpunished. (Would you consider a judge to be righteous if he let a murderer go free out of love? No, you'd call that a corrupt judge. in the same way, God cannot be righteous if he allows sin to go unpunished.)
  • Wrathful: God's wrath, when unleashed, is unparalleled. His wrath is directed toward sin, evil, unrighteousness.
  • Love: While God's wrath is terrifying, his love is amazing. It is his love that is expressed in the fact that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. The cross is the ultimate expression of his love for us.
  • Incorporeal: Scripture tells us that god is spirit, and has no physical body.
    • Note that this is something that some groups, such as the LDS church disagree with.
  • Triune: God exists in three persons: The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

And finally....

  • Incomprehensible: God is so far above us that we can never know or understand Him fully. All we can know or understand is what He has revealed, and even that is filtered through our own interpretations.
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Wow! This is an amazing list. Very useful for many purposes. Thank you! )Now I almost want my VTC back!) –  Affable Geek Oct 22 '13 at 11:10
    
@AffableGeek you're not judging questions based on really good answers are you? I'm pretty sure we've had this debate before. :) When I asked a stupid question but there were some really good answers to it. –  The Freemason Oct 22 '13 at 18:50
    
+1 I would probably have started with existence (revealed as YHWH) and tried to form a tree from that base. Also I disagree about "intrinsically possible"; I view God's limits as entirely internal (related to God's nature). E.g., in so far as God's power could be considered separately (another attribute of God, oneness, makes the meaning of such questions problematic), God has the power to make an unliftable rock (and lift it) but such violates an aspect of goodness (order, consistency, et al.). –  Paul A. Clayton Oct 22 '13 at 23:40
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In addition to omnipotence and omniscience the Bible lists a few characteristics of the "Spirit," which is God.

Galatians 5 (NIV)
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Now, though these qualities were listed with people in mind, they come from God, therefore, we can conclude that God holds these characteristics as well.

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The word of God is the first reference for All questions. (the bible) Gods word is the root of the vine which bears his fruit. Afterwards comes the harvest which is when he will separate the light from the darkness. (the wheat and the tares, Matthew 13:24-30)

Gods attributes are found throughout all scripture from the beginning of the bible (genesis) to the end (revelations).

In corinthians we find that God is love, however Jesus says the greatest commandment is to love you neighbor. (Mark 12:31)

If you want to embrace God and find his true heart, become rooted in the scripture (his word, the bible).

If you seek you will find, but you must (should) initiate the first step, i promise he will be faithful to answer those who genuinely seek him

search this (Matthew 7:24-27)

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Too cryptic an answer. –  Steve Oct 22 '13 at 4:56
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