I understand that some attributes of God are said to be communicable, meaning that they can, in some measure, be attributes of men as well. For example, God's holiness is said to be communicable because our holiness is derived from his, as in Lev 11:45 "Be holy, for I am holy." (ESV). God's aseity, on the other hand, could not be attributed to humans, as we are created by him.

Many other attributes, however, seem to be more of a gray area for me. For example, one might mark "knowledge" as communicable, or perhaps omniscience as incommunicable. How does one determine whether an attribute of God is communicable or incommunicable?

  • @jimreed If people don't know what the term means it might be ok if they do a little bit of research before answering this question :)
    – Caleb
    Sep 21 '11 at 13:04

The attributes that are speaking of his deity are clearly not communicable. You mention his aseity. I also point to his eternal nature.

However, the attributes that are bound to his personality are communicalbe. For example, grace and love can be found in us.

We have to be careful though to note that while these attributes of God's can be transferred to us, it is actually God in us that brings about these attributes.

See also: Attributes of God


I think that absolute attributes can't be communicable, and non-absolute can be communicable. Ex. personal holiness of a man is not the same as holiness of God, Who is absolute in every attribute.

But we should distinct absoluteness of value and absoluteness of attribute. I think that absolute attribute is attribute which cannot have non-absolute value. This way absolute attribute is like boolean Yes/No.

But maybe this test has no value.

  • Could you explain what you mean by absolute? I would think of God as being absolutely holy, for example, and yet, while we on earth are not perfectly holy, we can be in some measure.
    – Ray
    Sep 21 '11 at 12:11
  • I'm still having trouble parsing your answer/comment. Are you making a distinction between boolean attributes and measured attributes, e.g., immutability is "on" or "off", whereas grace can be had in measure?
    – Ray
    Sep 22 '11 at 12:31
  • Max this answer is a little bit problematic. As the answer stands, it doesn't mean much and one has to read through the comments in order to make out what you're saying. Can you please edit it to define the terms the way you are using them so that the answer is self contained. Eventually the comments will be deleted and the answer needs to stand on it's own. Thanks!
    – Caleb
    Sep 22 '11 at 12:52

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