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Sunday, September 13, 2015

Simple, But Not Simple

As we know, God has many attributes. There are the "omni's", you know, like omniscient and omnipresent and omnipotent. There are the obvious like holy, sovereign, and love. There are the more obscure like the aseity of God. "What's that?" That refers to the truth that God is self-existent. He wasn't made or created. He had no beginning and has no end. He ... is. (It was the attribute in mind when He told Moses, "I AM THAT I AM.") And He doesn't need you or me or anything else to be. Or you might hear of the immutability of God which is a fancy way of saying that He doesn't change. The list isn't short and it sometimes isn't obvious. But the strangest one, given the magnitude of His character traits, is the Simplicity of God.

"Okay, now, that doesn't make any sense," I can hear some say. "God is a lot of things, but simple isn't one of them." True. But the idea behind this attribute is not "easily understood" or "easily done". It isn't "slow or dim-witted" as in "simple-minded". It is intended to convey "not compound". And, to be honest, explaining the Simplicity of God ... isn't simple. Here's the idea. God has many attributes and traits, but God is not a conglomeration of those attributes and traits. He is "one". Just as the doctrine of the Trinity is three in one, so is this concept. The idea is that God is not comprised of His attributes; He is His attributes.

There is a problem, you see, in human thinking when we say that on one hand God is just and on the other that God is mercy. Seems contradictory. So we might try to suggest that He's somewhat just, but He can set that aside at some point to be merciful. To say "God is love" is not more right than "God is a consuming fire." His attributes aren't ranked or prioritized. He is His attributes. All of them. All the time. God is fully loving in His wrath, fully merciful in His justice, fully omnipotent in His grace. He is what He is.

Truth be told, I think that one is a hard one to wrap your mind around. That's okay. A really big, not fully comprehensible God is what you would expect, isn't it? Well, I would. This is when simple isn't simple.

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