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Wesleyan Theology I - Lesson 6

Attributes of God

Univocal refers to a one-to-one correspondence between the language we use and the reality of God. Equivocal refers to the idea that human language does not correspond directly to describing God, so it acknowledges ambiguity and more than one interpretation. Analogical refers to language used to describe God using  analogy. “Via Negativa” is describing characteristics that God is “not.” “Via Positiva” is describing a characteristic that is true of God, using analogy. Aseity means that God’s essence  is to exist. Eternity means that God transcends the limitations of time-space. There is not a space where God is not. Omniscience of God means that God knows all things. Omnipotence of God means that God is all powerful. Once God creates, there is an order in creation, and God works within the framework he created.  Immutability means that God’s essence does not change. Leslie Weatherhead describes three aspects of the will of God as the intentional will of God, circumstantial will of God and the ultimate will of God. Wesley describes God’s holiness as purity and simplicity. The wrath of God can be described as God’s unending determined opposition to evil.

Kenneth J. Collins
Wesleyan Theology I
Lesson 6
Watching Now
Attributes of God

I. UNIVOCAL

A. Anselm's arguments

B. Objection of Gaunilo

C. Anselm's response

II. EQUIVOCAL

III. ANALOGICAL

A. Via Negativa

B. Via Positiva

IV. ESSENTIAL ATTRIBUTES OF GOD

A. Incommunicable Attributes of God

1. Aseity

2. Eternity

3. Omnipresence

4. Omniscience

5. Omnipotence

6. Immutability

7. The will of God

B. Communicable attributes of God

1. Love

2. Holiness

3. Goodness

4. Freedom

5. Compassion

6. Wisdom

V. QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS


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  • For the first 5 centuries after Christ, the theology of the Christian Church was ecumenical. Since then, you have differences in Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox theology, and then the Reformation with different Protestant traditions. The Church has a history of promoting and preserving knowledge in all fields of study. Ideological secularization is characterizing theological ideas as irrelevant and not academic. Structural secularization is the process of marginalizing the subject of theology in the academy. Both revelation and reason are both important elements in the discussion of philosophical and theological subjects. God is transcendant, which means that he is distinct from everything that has been made. God is immanent, which means that the Spirit of God can be communicated in time and space through media, but is not the media itself. 

  • God can only be fully know by revelation. However, we can know some things about God by observation and reason. Thomas Aquinas gave 5 reasons that supports the idea of the existence of God. We can perceive motion and there must be something that caused the motion. Nothing can come from nothing, so something must exist at all times, which is God. Humans are contingent beings, but God’s essence is to exist. There are different degrees of goodness and complexity in organisms, so there must be a being of a highest form of good. Design and purpose must be at work because it’s not reasonable that the universe resulted from chance. Dembski also estimates that the mathematical odds for everything happening from a single cell at less than 1 in 10 to the 150th power. 

  • Humans are both material and spiritual and have the capacity to experience transcendence. Without God, you are describing a diminished view of humanity. John Calvin says that wisdom is the knowledge of God and the knowledge of ourselves. Revelation of God comes from Scripture (the most important), tradition, reason and experience. Theology should be participatory and result in transformation. …Wesley’s theology describe in two words would be, “holiness” and “grace.” Wesley’s theology is conjunctive. Holy love is a tension. Holiness results in separation and love results in community. Wesley’s view of grace includes both cooperant grace and free grace. 

  • Two sources for knowledge are revelation and reason. Empiricism teaches  that you get knowledge from your senses. Rationalism teaches that you get knowledge from the operation of your mind. Kant said that the mind makes a formal contribution to knowledge by organizing it.  All knowledge begins with experience but it does not all arise out of experience. Reason can only take us so far. Humans are the only species that worship God.

  • Scripture is unique, the word of God and inspired by God. Scripture is the source of truth and provides a norm for truth. Wesley gives four arguments for inspiration. They are miracles, prophecy, goodness of the doctrine and the moral character of the penmen. Characteristics of Scripture include the sufficiency, clarity and wholeness of Scripture. 

  • Univocal refers to a one-to-one correspondence between the language we use and the reality of God. Equivocal refers to the idea that human language does not correspond directly to describing God, so it acknowledges ambiguity and more than one interpretation. Analogical refers to language used to describe God using  analogy. “Via Negativa” is describing characteristics that God is “not.” “Via Positiva” is describing a characteristic that is true of God, using analogy. Aseity means that God’s essence  is to exist. Eternity means that God transcends the limitations of time-space. There is not a space where God is not. Omniscience of God means that God knows all things. Omnipotence of God means that God is all powerful. Once God creates, there is an order in creation, and God works within the framework he created.  Immutability means that God’s essence does not change. Leslie Weatherhead describes three aspects of the will of God as the intentional will of God, circumstantial will of God and the ultimate will of God. Wesley describes God’s holiness as purity and simplicity. The wrath of God can be described as God’s unending determined opposition to evil.

  • Triunity describe God’s nature. The concept of the Trinity was foreshadowed in the Old Testament and taught explicitly in the New Testament. Father, Son and Holy Spirit are all active in creation, baptism of Jesus and resurrection of Jesus. The Trinity is three distinct persons with the same essence. The distinctiveness has to do, not with their nature or essence, but with the relations. Person is different than an individual. According to Wesley, the Trinity is an invitation to participate in the deeper life of God. The gospel is the universal love of God, manifested in the person of Jesus, through the power of the Holy Spirit. Holiness apart from love can result in legalism. Love apart from holiness can result in sentimentality and wishful thinking. 

  • God created humans in his image so we have both a physical and spiritual nature. Sometimes biologists make statements about evolution that are outside of what can be examined and verified by science. According to young earth creationism, creation took place in 6, 24 hour days and the earth is about 6,000 years old. According to theistic evolution, once the process of evolution began, no special supernatural intervention was required for it to continue. The opposite of a naturalistic explanation for life is not supernatural, but intelligent causes. Intelligent design makes information theory and mathematical probability integral to its overall approach. Irreducible complexity argues against gradualism in the evolutionary process. 

  • God freely created the world and chooses to govern within the framework of the created order. The moral law is consistent with the character of God. God uses the moral law to convict the world of sin, bring us to Christ and keep us alive. Natural law is a body of moral principles that can be discerned by reason. Natural law is the will of God expressed in a created order. Deep conscience refers to the interior witness to the foundational principles of the moral law. Four characteristics of our moral design that are evident at the level of the species are interdependence, complementarity, spontaneous order and subsidiarity. 

  • Adam and Eve were created, not just as physical beings, but also spiritual beings. The image of God includes relationality as well as the capacity for rational thought. Wesley describes it as a natural image, political image and moral image. Wesley says that the natural image of God means that we have physical bodies and also a spiritual nature. Humanity is the conduit for God’s blessing of the rest of creation. 

  • The characteristics that give a human personhood belong to another order of explanation than that explored by biology. Sartre, who is an existentialist, says that existence precedes essence. In other words, each person determines their own nature by the choices they make. Others would say that your choices determine your character but that’s separate from your nature. Postmodernism teaches that the self is only a social and linguistic construct. Some scientists have argued that humans do not have a soul, but that cannot be proved or disproved by the scientific method. If God is dead, humanity is dead. Human beings are more than the social groups in which they participate. Humans are animals, but not merely animals.

  • Lucifer brought sin into the world with his sin of pride. The sin of Adam and Eve was unbelief. Wesley describes  unbelief as the perversion of the relationship between God and humanity, a lack of faith in God, resulting in alienation. He distinguishes three types of death as physical death, spiritual death and eternal death. Satan was self-tempted when he sinned. Adam and Eve were tempted by something external to them, Satan.  Wesley sees Adam as a representative of all humans, so all humans inherit Adam’s sin nature. 

  • There are orders of creation and preservation, like family and marriage, that can mediate the grace of God. God sustains creation, and also relates to people as persons. The three-fold circle of divine providence is the outer ring of the whole race of humans, the second smaller circle is all that are called believers and those who profess to be believers, the innermost circle only the true disciples of Jesus who worship God in Spirit and in truth. Wesley doesn’t deny that bad things happen to good people, both from other people and from events in nature. If God eliminated all evil, it would require eliminating freedom, which would also eliminate love. 

  • Wesley describes total depravity as "a want of original righteousness," and also in terms of a "natural propensity to sin.” Luther, Calvin and George Croft Cell agree. Eastern Orthodox teaches that Adam and Eve were not so fallen as to be unable to respond to any subsequent proffered grace. Wesley teaches the total depravity of humans and the sovereign act of God in salvation. He uses prevenient grace in two distinct ways. The “narrow” sense refers to all those degrees of grace that come before justifying and sanctifying grace. The “broad” use views all grace as prevenient and emphasizes the prior activity of God because he is always ahead of us and takes the initiative. Prevenient grace can be understood as both cooperant and free grace. 

  • God acts preveniently to give humans revelation by communicating his divine attributes. God places in humans a moral law that is expressive of the image of God. The Holy Spirit restored to all humans a certain measure of free-will. Original sin makes it impossible for people to respond to God on their own without God restoring their personhood, which they need to be able to respond to God’s grace. God doesn’t do it in a way that overruns a person’s personality.

  • The incarnation is a foundational teaching of the Christian faith. Since Jesus claimed to be God, it’s not an option that he could be just a good person. Paul teaches that Jesus has the same nature as God and that Jesus created all things. Ebionites rejected the divinity and virgin birth of Jesus. Adoptionism taught that Christ was a good man that was penetrated by God’s nature at his baptism and becomes divine, which treats divinity as an acquired attribute. Arias taught that Christ was not coeternal with the Father. He was more than mere man but he was created so he wasn’t equal with God. The first ecumenical council of Nicea in 325 affirms the divinity of Christ in response to the teaching of Arias. Wesley affirmed that Jesus existed as one person with both a human and divine nature. To affirm the essential equality of Christ with God the Father, Wesley often used the terms, “the only-begotten Son of God,” and “the Word of God.” The Son of God is the creator and sustainer of all things and the redeemer of humanity. The difference in the Godhead is relations, not nature. 

  • 1 John 4:2 describes the incarnation as Jesus coming to earth in the flesh. Jesus is also referred to as the Son of David in the Gospels. Jesus was able to become the mediator between God and humanity because his divinity meant that he was not a part of the problem of sin and his humanity meant that he could fully identify with humans. This is a unique and distinct role that can only be accomplished by Jesus, the God-human. Jesus suffered physically and emotionally and then died and was resurrected to new life. This qualifies him to be priest, a mediator between man and God. The title, Son of Man also emphasizes the humanity of Jesus. Apolliniarism taught that Jesus had a human body and soul, but a divine mind rather than a human mind. Docetism taught that Christ is pure spirit and only seemed to have a body. Gnostics view the body as lowly and the mind is considered higher. Monophysitism taught that the divine and human nature of Jesus was mixed into one nature. Nestorianism teaches that the divine and human natures of Jesus were sharply separated. Wesley viewed Jesus as the expression of the God of holy love, maintaining divinity while becoming human.

  • As a prophet, Jesus proclaimed the coming kingdom of God. Messiah in Hebrew has the same meaning as Christ in Greek. It means, “the anointed one.” The baptism of Jesus was the beginning of his public ministry.  When Satan tempted Jesus, the temptation was real because of the humanity of Jesus. It was necessary for Jesus to experience temptation. Jesus as a preacher, went from place to place, proclaiming the kingdom of God. As a teacher, Jesus taught in the synagogues and the listeners described him as teaching with authority. Christ as a lawgiver is seeking to communicate wisdom to humanity. This moral law is connected to God’s character. Jesus performed miracles to heal the sick, bring people back from the dead and demonstrate his power over nature. Christ as priest, became the mediator to bridge the gap between God and humanity. At the cross, what the holiness of God required, the love of God provided. Theories of the atonement are the best attempts of thinking about how to express the atoning work of Jesus. 

  • Penal substitution asserts that atonement primarily involves Jesus’ taking the sinner’s place (‘substitution’) in bearing the penalty (hence ‘penal’) for his or her sin. That penalty was no less than God’s wrath and the sinner’s death. God’s wrath is his unswerving opposition to evil. The moral influence theory teaches that without the fall, that amazing instance of the love of God to humanity would have never existed. Penal substitution and moral influence theory complement each other. In the governmental view, the death of Christ illustrates the punishment which sin may attract and therefore serves good government by acting as a deterrent. Jesus raised from the dead into an immortal body. Only life can give meaning to human existence. Death destroys all meaning. The first time Christ came as a redeemer. As king, Christ is coming again to rule . Three roles of king are giving laws, restoring people to the image of God and reigning in all believing hearts.

  • The personhood of the Holy Spirit is revealed by the roles of the Holy Spirit. Jesus told the disciples that he would send an advocate. The Holy Spirit is an advocate, teacher, proclaims truth, provides direction and assists in prayer. Four characteristics of the Holy Spirit that indicate his deity are eternity, omnipotence, omnipresence and omniscience. The Filioque controversy is a difference between how the Eastern Orthodox and Western Traditions describe the nature of the Holy Spirit.

  • At the beginning of creation, the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. The Holy Spirit is the author of the Bible and brings understanding as people read it. The Holy Spirit makes effective the completed work of Christ and gives us the power to live out the Christian life. The Holy Spirit is personal, not an impersonal force. The believers received the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost after Christ ascended to heaven. The gifts of the Spirit are for the common good of building up the body of Christ. We should be cooperating with the work of the Holy Spirit in our individual lives and his influence should be evident in how we interact corporately.

 John Wesley's beliefs understood from an historical and theological perspective

Dr. Ken Collins

Wesleyan Theology I

th510-06

Attributes of God

Lesson Transcript

 

Okay. So we've had an introduction yesterday with a couple of lectures, getting our feet a little bit wet, testing the waters. Today we are going to go more deeply into the doctrine of God. And the full title of today's lecture is The Doctrine of God, the in Communicable and Communicable Attributes. And then under that, of course, and we always want to remember in Wesleyan theology, we are talking about a God of holy love, a God of holy love. So let's begin. A good place to start is to raise the issue of language. Language about God. Talk about God. How do we discuss God? What's the appropriate vocabularies to use? And theologians have basically put forth three basic ways that people have talked about God. The first one is you never call and by you never go, we mean that there is a 1 to 1 correspondence between the language we use and the reality, the reality of God. And so an example of this could be found in the work of Donne, SCOTUS, SCOTUS begins with being, and he sees that as common in terms of God and humanity. And so SCOTUS says you never go conception of being. Where he's basically using equivalent terms in terms of all things that exist and then the reality of God. That would be an example of this first universal use. Another example would come from the work of Bonaventure Bonaventure who wrote There are exempt qualifications set before are still unrefined and sense oriented minds so that by the sensible things which they see, they might be transferred to the intelligible which they cannot see. And so he's talking about those things which are seen and making a comparison to that which is unseen. Now, whether one is looking at the work of SCOTUS or Bonaventure, other theologians have been critical of this approach.

 

In other words, that there is a universal, a 1 to 1 correspondence between the relation of our language and the being of God. And someone who has raised questions here, and I think rightfully so, is the Roman Catholic scholar Brad Gregory. Brad Gregory, in thinking about the work of SCOTUS, for example, has written this would prove to be the first step toward the eventual domestication of God's transcendence, a process in which the 17th century revolutions in philosophy and science would later participate. And what Brad is doing there, he's being critical of SCOTUS and saying, Well, you know, a 1 to 1 correspondence between our language about God and the reality of God is is problematic. It's fraught with lots of difficulties when we start to think about it. And I think we can also see the problematic nature of universal language when we take a look at the work of Anselm medieval theologian who is famous, among other things, for his ontological argument for the existence of God. And it's in a consideration of the ontological argument that we begin to see another criticism of this universal use of language in terms of the being of God. So let's just take a look very briefly at the ontological argument here. Anselm argues that we believe that thou art a being a greater of which none can be conceived. So Anselm is starting out here with a basic definition of God. How do we understand God? A. Being a greater of which cannot be conceived. And then from that, he argues, it is one thing for an object to be in the understanding, in other words, to be in the mind, and another to understand that the object exists. So he's making a distinction between understanding and existence.

 

Then he continues, Even the fool is convinced that something exists in the understanding, at least then, which nothing greater can be conceived for. When he hears of this, he understands it and assuredly that then which nothing greater can be conceived cannot exist in the understanding alone. For. Suppose it exists in the understanding alone, then it can be conceived to exist in reality, which is greater. Now, I don't know if you caught it, but what Anselm is arguing there, we can think of as being a greater of which cannot be conceived. I think we all can agree with that, and that is the understanding that can be in our understanding. However, it is one thing for an idea to be in the understanding. It is another thing for that idea, which is in the understanding actually to exist, which Anselm is saying would be greater. And so you can see where the hinge of this argument is going to go. Because if the being a greater of which cannot be conceived exists in the understanding alone, then it is not a being a greater of which cannot be conceived because we can think of a being that actually has existence. And so this is the direction that Anselm goes in his argument, because he argues if that then which nothing greater can be conceived exists in the understanding alone. The very being then which nothing greater can be conceived is one then which a greater can be conceived. And he appeals to the being of that. But obviously this is impossible, he writes. There is no doubt that there exists a being then which nothing greater can be conceived. So he's he's playing with this idea of an idea in the mind alone. And then that idea having the greater reality of existence.

 

And so when we think of a being, a greater of which cannot be conceived, he's going over to the existence of it because that would correspond to a being a great of which cannot be conceived. This ontological proof of the existence of God has been criticized both in Anselm's time and then later on famous critiques by Immanuel Kant and others. And I want to lift up one of the critiques that was offered by a contemporary of Saint Anselm, because it's a window on this question of the language of God. When we talk about universal language of God, 1 to 1 correspondence and the objection of Gone Alone is basically, well, he conceives somewhere in the ocean that there is an island, and this island is of inestimable wealth and riches, and it is the most excellent of all islands. And he can conceive of this perfect island in the mind. And but that doesn't necessarily mean that it exists. And so you can see here the objection that Gonzalo is raising. He's working with the categories of Anselm, a being a great of which cannot be conceived, and he's substituting for that, an island which is perfect, I suppose, a great of which cannot be conceived. And Gonzalo is saying, even though I can conceive of this island, which is perfect, that doesn't mean it exists. And that's really the thrust of his criticism of Anselm's proof. However, our Anselm's response is to the point. It's to the point. And he shows the weakness, actually, of the criticism of Gonzalo. And this raises for us two very important issues. One, in terms of this issue of the universal nature of theological language, and then it raises for us of the kind of being when we talk about the being of God, how that is different, how that is different from our being.

 

For example, we're going to see that secondarily in a second sense. So let's get to Anselm's reply to this critic, this contemporary critic and some rights. God is not a contingent object like an island which is dependent for its existence on other factors. But God is one whose essence is to exist, whose essence is to exist. The being of God is not contingent in any way. God cannot not. B, God's very essence is to exist. We could never say that of an island, even if it were perfect. We could not say that its nature is to exist. So what we have here, then, in the objection of Gonzalo, is a confusion, a confusion in terms of the class of being. And we experience this quite often in our contemporary cultures, especially in terms of atheists and neo atheists who criticize the doctrine of God and but don't understand the kind of being that theologians are referring to when they are using language pertaining to God. And so it is this confusion of class, of being God's class of being is unique because God is the one whose essence is to exist. God is not contingent on any other thing. So that means then that not only is Gonzalo incorrect in his criticism, but it also means that lots of the criticisms we've heard from the neo atheists is misplaced because they are treating God as if God were an object in the world, as if God were a dependent being like other beings in the world. And so the response of Anselm is basically pointing out the uniqueness of the being of God in terms of it is only of God that being a greater of which cannot be conceived, that we say God's essence is to exist and therefore God cannot not exist.

 

Yes. And so it's it's rather a rather interesting response that Anselm has to offer. So that's the first option there. In terms of language of God, the universal approach, meaning that our language directly and accurately describes God in a kind of 1 to 1 correspondence. We've seen now the problems with that. There are great difficulties here. And so we take a look at the second approach that theologians have identified when they're thinking of God, and that is the equivocal approach in which there is not a correspondence between our language, our very human language and the reality of God. Now, once we postulate that if language is equivocal, then it's open to more than one interpretation and it's therefore ambiguous. And so if we are going to use equivocal language in terms of describing God, we are going to run into problems right away, right at the get go, because our assertions about God, the language we use in terms of God, is going to be an invitation to ambiguity, perhaps confusion, because we don't know exactly what is meant, what the referent is. And so this view. So it would seem, would not be able to support the kind of language that theologians, after all, want to use to describe the reality of God. And so that takes us to the third option here in terms of theological language, and that is the analogical, the analogical meaning that our language, our very human language is an analogy and analogy with respect to God. We do not mistake our very human words directly in a 1 to 1 correspondence for the reality of God. But we realize, contrary to the second option of equivocation, we realize that we are saying something, something about the reality of God in the use of our very imperfect language.

 

And so this option, this third option of analogy, that our language is analogous with respect to the being of God. We find a good example of this in the works of Thomas Aquinas. Thomas Aquinas, who presupposed and sought to preserve the view of God as other, as utterly other, and that God shares no genus in common with creatures not even being. So there's a criticism of. SCOTUS. And so God is utterly different. And therefore the language that we use about God is going to be analogical. It will in some sense say something about God, but it will always be marked by by imperfection. For example, we would want to affirm, of course, in light of revelation, that God is good. But once we make that affirmation, that positive affirmation, God is good. Other theologians are going to immediately respond. But God transcends our understanding of goodness. So when we say God is good, we would have to almost immediately say God is not good as we have conceived it, because God is greater than that. And so this invites us to the whole area of analogy. Analogy, Yes, we can use these very human words. We can make the affirmation God is good, but always knowing that God transcends our very best conceptions of goodness because God is even greater than that. Now, this dynamic has been suggested by other theologians as an invitation to speak about God in terms of what is called out via Negativa. In other words, if it's difficult to affirm something positively towards God because God is always going to transcend our best expressions, then maybe the best way to proceed is to go negatively to say what God is not. And this is known as the Via Negativa and an early theologian of the church who proceeded in this fashion would be pseudo Dionysius.

 

Pseudo Dionysius, of course, famous in Christian spirituality circles for his three stages of progression, illumination and union, but pseudo. Dionysius also famous for proceeding with language of God by saying what God is not. So, for example, God is not finite, God is not limited. We can say those things and feel a greater sense of assurance in doing so. And so some theologians have proceeded in this fashion, basically to say what God is, not that God transcends these things, but others still want to come back to, at least in some sense, a v, a positiva. They want to be able to offer some positive statements about God, especially in light of revelation, in light of Scripture in particular. And so a robust doctrine of revelation means that we can say at least something positive about God, but that when we do so, we do so. And logically we do so and illogically always realizing that our language will not be a 1 to 1 correspondence because of the greatness, the greatness of God. And so there will not be an exact 1 to 1 correspondence, as in universal language that was favored by SCOTUS. But then on the other hand, it's not going to be it's not going to entail the ambiguity, the excessive ambiguity that we saw as a function of equivocal language. So it's by way of analogy where saying something about God always recognizing that God is greater. Well, with that understanding, with that understanding and place where ready for a discussion of the essential attributes of God, the essential attributes of God. And we can define these break these up into two major parts. The in communicable attributes of God on the one hand, and then the communicable attributes of God on the other.

 

In terms of the first, we are referring to those attributes that pertain to God alone. When we speak of the communicable attributes of God, we are going to see that some of these attributes of God can be shared by by by men and women, by the things by the people who have been made. Created in the image and likeness of God. Okay, let's start first with the incomparable communicable attributes of God. We start with. A safety. A. S. E. I. T y. This is a focus on being. This is going to be distinct to God. This is in communicable. God cannot give us this characteristic because it pertains to the divine nature by the safety of God. And this focus on being. What are we saying? We're saying that God's essence. In other words, who God is, what God is in terms of essence nature. God's essence is to exist. God's essence is to exist. And this is found in the works of Thomas Aquinas. He will explore the reality of God this way. Explore this attribute of the City of God, arguing that God's essence is is to exist that makes the existence of God distinct, unique. We don't share that kind of characteristic or trait. Another way of putting this is that God is self existent, self-sufficient, self-sustaining. God does not have it in him. Sinclair Ferguson writes, either in purpose or in power to stop existing. God exists necessarily. And so when we point to the Society of God, it is the quality of having life in and from the divine being. And so this is an important trait. Then the second in communicable attribute of God is eternity is eternity. And by this we mean and we have to be careful here that God transcends time.

 

See, lots of times people think of time, space. You know, a time space manifold and they think of a time, their arrow in this direction and a time arrow in that direction. And they're thinking of eternity in that way. Well, that's not how we're thinking about eternity here. God transcends the limitations. Yes, the limitations of time space. Because time space is a limitation. And God transcends time. And God is eternal. God is eternal in that God transcends time and space. And time and space. Okay. And so this is going to be an in communicable attribute of God, because we as beings, as contingent, finite beings, are encased and trapped in time space, if you will, whereas God transcends it and has that eternity. You know, again, because we're time space beings, we always can conceive things in in terms of time. But there never was a time when God was not. That's an impossibility. Okay. That's an impossibility when you understand the nature of God. Right. Okay. Now, we could think of human beings and even John Wesley, when he considers eternity, he makes a distinction between what he calls. He writes our party anti and then our party post. And he's thinking about eternity in these two ways and eternity in this way. Our party and time would be. You think of the present and think of the past receding that way and with an arrow pointing towards eternity. You get into conundrums very, very readily here. When you're operating in time space, because if you're in the present and you say there is an eternity of time that has preceded the present, well then how would you ever get to the present if it really is an eternity of time that precedes it? You get into all these kinds of conundrums because you're operating within time space, but this becomes more intelligible to us, even within a time space manifold.

 

In other words, all party posts we could could see, for example, of human beings, as you know, having an immortal soul, as many early Christian theologians thought and propounded. And that eternal soul never dying, in other words, continuing on, never ceases to exist. We could conceive of eternity. Even for us human beings who are created contingent. We could conceive of eternity that way. But we have grave difficulties when we try to conceive of eternity the other way. Because we have come into existence. We are contingent beings. There was a time when we were not. None of that can be said in terms of the being of God, who always is whose very essence is to exist. Okay. Now another communicable attribute of God is omnipresence. Closely associated with the eternity of God is another significant attribute, namely omnipresence. And Wesley actually wrote a whole sermon on this. John Wesley wrote a whole sermon on the omnipresence of God. And he looked to Jeremiah chapter 23, verse 24, which reads, quote, Do not I fell Heaven and earth, saith the Lord. Accordingly, there is no point of space, Wesley contends, whether within or without the bounds of creation, where God is not, where God is not. God acts everywhere. God is everywhere. The one implies the other. And then, of course, Wesley lifts up important scriptures in this area. Jeremiah Again, 23 versus 23 to 24. Am I only a god nearby? Declares the Lord and not a God far away who can hide in secret places so that I cannot see them, declares the Lord. Do I not fill heaven and earth, declares the Lord? And then, of course, the famous statement from Psalm 139 chapter versus seven through ten. Whither can I go from your spirit? Whither can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there.

 

If I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there, your hand will guide me. Your right hand will hold me fast. Okay. And so this is something that Wesley specifically affirmed, even in his sermons. In other words, in his practical theology, he wanted to underscore the omnipresence of God. The next in communicable attribute to be considered Here is the omniscience of God, meaning that God knows all things. And so just as John Wesley understood the omnipresence of God as closely allied to the eternity of God, so too did he consider the omniscience in this case, literally, meaning the all knowing of the deity as clearly a consequence of God's omnipresence. And so the fact that God is everywhere, God knows everything. Everywhere is a simple way that Wesley put it. And so Wesley maintains that all time, whether past or future, is present to God as one eternal now, as one eternal now. You know, if you were to think about this in terms of a kind of symbol, graphic symbols, you would think of perhaps time as this large circle time space as this large circle and God transcendent above it, seeing every point on the circle at once, all immediate to the divine vision. This raises for us, of course, the whole issue of omniscience before knowledge of God, the foreknowledge of God, God, knowing the end from the beginning. And I think this knowing the end from the beginning also is a window on the transcendence of God, that God is not limited to time, space, that kind of restriction that we have, but that God does not have. And then, of course, there is the omnipotence of God.

 

And Wesley as well explored this at great length in his practical theology and subsequent theologians beyond him, of course. But Wesley explores the omnipotence or the all powerful ness of God in terms of the divine omnipresence. And so in his sermon on the Omnipresence of God, for example, Wesley argues as follows. Therefore, to deny the omnipresence of God implies likewise the denial of God's omnipotence. And so, reflecting on the Divine omnipotence, this is what Wesley had to write. He describes God in terms of the fullness of the divine being, which is denoted by the great name of God revealed in the Old Testament. I am that I am. And this points to his omnipresence, and it implies his omnipotence. Who is indeed the only agent in the material world? All matter being essentially dull and inactive. Wesley writes, moving only at his as it is moved by the finger of God in him. We live and move and have our being. If God were to withdraw God's presence from the creation, it would fall into it would fall into nothingness. Now we have to be careful here when we talk about the omnipotence of God and. At times we hear these contrived challenges to the omnipotence of God. Can God create a stone so heavy that God couldn't lift it, you know, which is basically a contradiction. And so we're not talking about the law of contradiction here. Not even God can create a square circle. Okay. You know, these kinds of contradictions. So we have to understand that the proper context of omnipotence here. But we're also going to see later on, as the course progresses, that there is a distinction between what theologians call the. Potentia. Absolute to let me use a black pen for this.

 

It's Latin here. Potentia. Absolute. And then the potentia. Ordinateur. I'm simply going to introduce this distinction at this point just so you get a feel for it under the broader heading of the omnipotence of God. In other words, what God does and what God can do in the potentia absolute to. Underscores the freedom of God, underscores the freedom of God and the power and the all powerful ness of God that God. You know. So let's use this, for example, in terms of creation. In terms of creation. God is free to create or no. Okay. And God didn't have to create. If God did not want to create. We obviously know God chose to create out of the divine freedom that comes out of the potentia. Absolutely no words God can create or God cannot create. We know He did create. What's this? However, once God creates. Once God exercises this potentia absolute. Now we have potentia or did not because God has now created beings in the image and likeness of God. And in some sense, the divine freedom has been delimited. In some sense. In some sense. Here's here's here's here's how I'll I'll explain it briefly. We'll probably get into it later on in the course. If God creates human beings with the purpose that those beings created in the imaging likeness of God, that their very purpose is to know, to love and to enjoy God now and forever more then that puts, you know, sort of restrictions, if you will, in terms of the divine action. For example, when this plays out in The Odyssey, some people ask, well, why does God allow a world in which murderers exist? Murderers exist and rapists exist, these people who do evil. Why doesn't God simply, you know, destroy them immediately before or why doesn't God take away human freedom so that we can't do evil? Okay, but here's where you see the limitation here.

 

Potentia ordinate. If God were to, let's say, eliminate human freedom, then the purpose at which God is aiming, which is love, holy love cannot be fulfilled because human beings are going to need to freely assent to God, to love God and to enter into holy love so that not even God can create a universe which is aiming at holy love, in which human freedom is destroyed. It's almost like trying to create a square circle. And so sometimes I hear people discussing this area and they confuse these two frameworks of potentia absolute potentia Ordinateur. Wesley's very careful in this area, as a matter of fact, and he makes a distinction between God is creator. God is free to create or no. And then God as governor, once God creates God is a governor and there are rules, if you will, there is an order and God works with that order because God is aiming at certain goals. We'll talk more about this in the future, but I did want to lift it up in this area of the attribute of omnipotence. Okay. Now, another characteristic or trait would be immutability. And this is where I think a lot of contemporary theology goes wrong, especially like open theism, process theology. They don't get this right. They don't get the immutability of the divine being properly correctly understood. And so the essence of the divine nature is immutable if the being of God changed. Think about it now. Now we're talking about the being of God, the essence of God who God is. If that changed, then God would become at one time what God was not. Do you see the problem right away? Do you see the problem right away? Because if we work with Anselm's understanding of God, God is a being a greater of which cannot be conceived.

 

And that, of course, is highlighting the divine perfection. Okay. And if we say that here is God over here and that God's being or essence is going to change to over here, let's say X prime, okay, then that means that God over here was not God, because this is a being that is greater than this, because this has a potentiality that has been actualized here. And therefore this is not God, because it is not a being a greater of which cannot be conceived. So the issue of immutability. Now, notice this relates specifically to the divine being or essence, the essence or nature who God is that cannot change. You understand why? Because if it did change, then it has become what it once was not. And if it has some added attribute later on, then you have an imperfect being. Prior to that, you see the problem. Okay. And so this relates simply to the essence of who God is. That must must be immutable. It must be immutable. If if you talk about this changing through time in a dynamic way, as we read in some of these theologies, that is a human creation. That is a thing in the world. Okay. That isn't even at the class of being that we're referring to when we describe the being of God. It's, again, a thing in the world, a thing in time space that is changing over time. And so this in communicable attribute of immutability is very important. Now, I think it's interesting that scripture, you know, says very clearly in terms of Jesus Christ. It describes to him this immutability. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. Yesterday, today and forever. Okay. And that highlighting the immutability of Jesus Christ who is truly divine, because that is at the heart of the divine being and what we mean when we're talking about God.

 

Okay. And so if God had potentialities to be actualized, that would entail imperfection at some earlier point. Okay. And so this becomes problematic for for some theologies. Okay. Now. We can think about, we can talk about and I'll just mention this briefly here as a sort of side note, we can talk about the divine will being expressed differently in terms of various contexts. And I think someone who had a very good book on this was Lesley Weatherhead. It's simply called The Will of God. Okay. And nothing of that I've said earlier in terms of the immutability of God is going to detract from what Leslie Weatherhead says in this very important book. And it's a very thin volume, by the way. It's a fairly easy read, and I highly recommend it to you. In this book, The Will of God. Leslie Weatherhead talks about three wills of God. So let's let's use an example to flesh this out so we understand what we're talking about. Let's say let's say a drunk driver, you know, let's say a drunk man gets in a car, speeds along the highway, is involved in an accident, and a 14 year old girl is killed. A 14 year old girl is killed. Okay. Yeah. That obviously is a tragedy. That's an evil. That's an evil because someone of great value, this girl, this 14 year old girl has been lost and that will cause great harm to her family. Okay. How do we understand the will of God in terms of this 14 year old girl? Well, Weatherhead is suggesting we do so in a threefold way. First, there is the intentional will of God. What does God intend for this 14 year old girl? What does he intend for this girl who has been killed in this horrible, horrible accident? That's that's one thing.

 

And so God intends what is good. God is always aiming at the good God intends what is good for this young girl's life. But now we see circumstances of other people, free people who are free agents can do can get drunk or no can get in cars or no and do so. And this girl has lost her life. Now, what is the will of God in this context? Well, Weatherhead spoke about wrote about the circumstantial will of God, the will of God, given these circumstances where these free people are exercising their freedom to evil. And then Weatherhead doesn't leave it at that. But then he talks about the ultimate will of God, the ultimate will of God. And he argues, though the circumstantial will of God can deflect the intentional will of God, the ultimate will of God for that girl's life is never defeated by the circumstances of life that what God has intended for that girl will yet be realized. Okay. And so I offer this as an example to show that yes, God is one and God is immutable, but yet the will of God can be expressed differently given the circumstances of life that will involve free moral agents who can do evil and are responsible for doing evil. There is the intentional will of God, the circumstantial will of God that gets deflected by human evil. But there is the ultimate will of God that is not defeated. That is not defeated by such circumstances. In terms of this young girl's life. Now, having discussed the in communicable attributes of God, in other words, pertaining to God alone, this is not something that we share. It does not characterize us our being. We're now ready to talk about the communicable attributes of God, the communicable attributes of God.

 

And the first thing that I want to lift up here is that. As first John four eight says God is love. God is love. And you note that in this course where working with Holy Love, Holy Love is an ongoing theme for us, we define the divine being in terms of love. God is love. This is an essential to define the essential being of God, the nature of God that God is love. This will become more clear to us when we say that God is love. When we talk later on about how God has been revealed to us in Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit, in other words, a Trinitarian understanding of the Christian Godhead, where relationality is at the heart of the Christian understanding of the Godhead. So it is very appropriate for us to say God is love because God is the community of relations. The Father loves the son. The son loves the Father. The Spirit proceeds from the father through the son. There is relationality and love at the heart of who God is. Now, that is difficult for us to understand because we are not only time space beings, but we're physical beings. We tend to think that this is this stuff is real. You know, Coke cans are real, watches are real, Chalk is real. Stuff is real, matter is real. We have a difficult time seeing the importance of relationality and love and personhood and the relations of persons to others, and that this is real and it's very important, as a matter of fact. It is descriptive of the divine being as revealed to us in Jesus Christ. Now, also understand this, that Wesley referred to the love of God as God's darling attribute.

 

In other words, it defines who God is. Now, if we were to talk about the sovereignty of God. The sovereignty of God is not an essential attribute of God. It is not. Love is an essential attribute of God, but not sovereignty. We're going to talk about sovereignty later on. But sovereignty is a relational attribute. In other words, it's how the creator relates to the created. In other words, that God is sovereign over the creation. Sovereignty is a relational attribute of God. It's not an essential attribute of God. God was Father before God was sovereign. Do you understand the difference? God was father to Trinitarian relations. Father, Son, Holy Spirit, the mutual relations of love. God was Father before. God was sovereign. God is not sovereign until they created order comes into being and then God is sovereign over that created order. So we speak and make a distinction between God is love as an essential attribute of God. And then we speak about the sovereignty of God as a relational attribute, how God will relate to what the things that have been made. And this is going to be crucial if you want to understand Wesleyan theology, because Wesleyan theology, all of it is going to come out of this basic center that God is love. Now, you know, I'm going to want to say, what am I going to want to say? Holy Lord. Exactly that God is holy love so that we don't talk past each other, so we realize we're on the same page. God is essentially Holy Lord. That's that's who God is. So I know yesterday in the lecture, I talked about the little book of Augustine on Christian doctrine, and we talked about how to properly interpret the Bible.

 

You know, what's an appropriate hermeneutic that we can use here? And Augustine said, it is love. So if we're coming up with an interpretation of the Bible that's contrary to love, guess what? We're wrong. In the same way I'm sort of, you know, spinning it in Wesley's direction here a bit, a slightly different hermeneutic. But if you're coming up with an interpretation of the Bible that is contrary to Holy Love. Guess what? You're wrong. Because Holy Love is who God is and who God has been revealed in Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. Okay. And so, you know, we lift up here, of course, in this context, John 316 for God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life. Okay. Now, watch this. We are, after all, talking about Wesley, are many in theology. This is Wesley Theology. Watch this now. This may come as a surprise to you. We have been talking about the essence, the being of God who God is. God is holy love. Now we raise the question of humanity later on, when God brings the creation into being, when God creates men and women. The question becomes, does God will the salvation of all people? Wesley is going to affirmatively say Yes. Not only will he say yes, that God wills the salvation of all people, but watch this now relating to the essence of who God is. God can not, but will the salvation of all people precisely because who God is, Because God is holy love. God must will that highest good for all creation, which is life in God. God could not will anything less than that for all creation because God is love.

 

Okay. Now, that doesn't result in a universalism, because Wesley's certainly not teaching that all people are redeemed. No, they're not. It's a matter of fact. Very few are redeemed. But this has to do. What? What? What God intends. God wills the salvation of all people. But we know, of course, that not all people are redeemed. But this bespeaks of who God is in terms of God's essential nature. God is love because God is Holy love. God cannot but want and desire the very best for what God has created in terms of all people Now closely connected with the love of God is the holiness of God. Be holy. For I am holy. I'm using the King James there. Obviously, this is from first Peter 116. Now this holiness, which describes love, is opposed to all sin and evil as well as idolatry. And so holiness is opposed to send what is sin? Sin is alienation, separation from God. Now, we can use that as a basic definition here. And holiness is opposed to that. It's opposed to the alienation and separation from God. And so. To say that God is holy as Tom Odin, in his theology writes, is nothing other than to say that God is perfect in goodness, both in God's essential nature and in every act or energy or operation. And so God is holy. And when we think of the holiness of God, we think of the awful mess of God. We think of holiness in terms of us as separating, purifying, making more simple. And compounded with evil. So when we think of holiness, the two traits that Wesley goes back to again and again are purity and simplicity. Purity and simplicity. I think we understand what's entailed by purity.

 

Maybe we need a little help with simplicity. We're not thinking simple minded or anything like that. A good example to illustrate this truth would come from the 19th century work of Zoran Kierkegaard, who had a title of a book, Purity of Heart is to will one thing simplicity and purity and goodness. They all go hand in hand. They all go hand in hand. Think, for example, of liars. Think of liars. That's complicated. To be a liar, you'd have to have a very good memory. Because you have to remember who you told the lies to. And you'd have to remember what lie you told. Okay? It's not a matter of what you see, what you get. To be wholly, to be pure, to be simple is so much easier. Because you are simple. You're not complicated with the evil as liars are. So that would be an example. What we're trying to get at here. Holiness. Holiness. In terms of purity. Separation from sin. Separation from the alienation from God and holiness, of course, is going to inform love and love is going to inform holiness. And we are going to be talking more about that, as you might imagine. Holy Love in Wesleyan theology, Another communicable attribute of God is that God is good, God is good. There is no evil in God whatsoever. There is no evil in God whatsoever. Some people actually have difficulty with that. And here's how. Here's how they have difficulty with it. They turn to God and they are involved in their own sins and they're basically asking God to indulge them in the ongoing practice of sin. And then if God does so, they're going to ascribe the term goodness to God that God is so good. But that, of course, is crazy theology.

 

God cannot indulge us in our sin precisely because of who God is as holy love. And if we're looking to God to have God indulge us in the ongoing practice of sin, we are asking for less, much less. And the divine will would never allow it. God's holiness and God's love would never allow such a thing. God is good and there is no evil in God whatsoever. And when we think of heaven, we think of heaven as the presence of God and as the absence of sin and evil. Okay. If there were sin and evil in heaven, it wouldn't be heaven. Okay. Now, human beings are good to the extent that they participate in the goodness of God. All human goodness, whether it is recognized or not, derives from the goodness of God. And so yesterday we talked about the importance of preventive grace as a way of participating in the goodness of God. Because whenever we see a good a genuine good, its source is God, whether we recognize that or not, because all that is good comes from God. All that is good comes from God. All human goodness derives from the goodness of God. God is the fount of all. That is good. Another characteristic here would be freedom. Scripture frequently attests to the derived character of human freedom. It is derived from God's own freedom. Tom Odin explored that in his theology classic Christianity, talking about the freedom of God, talking about Christians enjoying freedom. I think it's wonderful how Scripture describes us, describes us as free. Wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. You know, I think the world has this backwards. They look at Christians and they think somehow or other that, you know, where we're just, you know, struggling and crippled and we have such difficulties and we're weighed down, We're living diminished lives and nothing could be further from the truth.

 

Because to know a Christian, a real Christian, as Wesley would say, a real true, proper scriptural Christian, is to know someone who is free and is a slave to nothing. Yes, a slave to nothing. They are therefore liberated by the grace of God to enjoy that great freedom. And what is the great freedom? It is the great freedom to love God and to love our neighbor as ourselves. And that is a huge freedom. Many people are not so free. They are not free to love their neighbor because they are held back by envy, by jealousy, by animus, by back stabbing, by evil, speaking all of this sinful action, they are not so free. And the kind of transformation of being that will take place when the Holy Spirit tabernacles in us, when a God of Holy love is in us, empowering us to love God and neighbor as we should. There is real liberty indeed. I did want to lift up two others before we move on to another discussion, and we speak of the compassion of God. For example, when we look at Matthew chapter nine, verse 36, speaking of Jesus, when he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them because they were harassed and helpless like sheep without a shepherd. Or if we take a look at Luke chapter 15, verse 20, and he rose and came to his father, but while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and he felt compassion and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And so we see a good example of compassion there in terms of the parable that Jesus is telling, in terms of the prodigal, the prodigal son. We also should lift up, and this is certainly communicable, the wisdom of God, the wisdom of God.

 

And a number of the proverbs from the Old Testament lift up this important characteristic and trait. And this is something that believers can richly enjoy. Think of the Council of Proverbs chapter four, verse six through seven, for example. Do not forsake wisdom and she will protect you. Love her and she will watch over you. Wisdom is supreme. Therefore, get wisdom. And there are many other examples drawn from not only proverbs but in the New Testament context. First Corinthians 19 through 21, and then also First Corinthians 130, which I will recite because it's so important quote, It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us. Wisdom from God that is righteousness, holiness and redemption. And then lastly here on this topic of wisdom, James, chapter one, verse five. If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask of God who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. So this is clearly communicable. We can enjoy wisdom whose source, of course, comes from God. Okay, let's take some questions. Why are his will and his omnipotence not the same thing you say He wills for everyone to be saved. But why is he limiting that when he's unrepentant? I mean, he's self-limiting. Oh, I erased about it. I think. I think you're dealing with that distinction. I made potentia, ordinate, potentia. Absolutely. And. In terms of your question, we're dealing now with the potentia ordinate. In other words, God in some sense has accepted a limitation because God has created created what human beings in his in the image and likeness of God. And these human beings have freedom. They have a measure of freedom, which is a thing of grace. God will not, as we explain in our example, run roughshod over the individual who wants to exercise their freedom for evil.

 

God will not stop them from doing the evil. You know, so if we're talking about the omnipotence of God and meaning that God would do that, that would be a misunderstanding of what we are saying about the omnipotence of God. Because once God creates, we are talking about the potentia ordinate. In other words, God as governor, God as override created order where there are free human beings created in the image and likeness of God who can receive God's grace or reject God's grace, who can do good or who can do evil. And God will not coerce and stop the doing of that evil. Not even a powerful God will do that. Because if God were to do that, we suggested then God could no longer aim at what is God's ultimate goal, and that is holy love to aim at the holy love of all people knowing, enjoying and celebrating God now and forever more. You see what is being suggested here. Does that help? It does. I guess I'm just having problems with. Where his sovereignty comes with all of this. Because earlier he said. Sovereignty is not an attribute of God, so he did not come. So I know sovereignty is an attribute. I didn't say that. I said sovereignty is an attribute of God. I said it's not an essential attribute of God. It's a relational attribute of God. In other words, it's how God relates to the created order that God is sovereign over the created order, but that God is essentially in terms of God's essence, who God is. God is holy love. That's who God is. And once God creates, you have the movement from potentia absolute to do potentia or not. Now there is a created order and God has freely accepted a self limitation because now God can be addressed by a genuine vow who is a human being who has been created and nothing less than the image and likeness of God and God will not coercively shut down that vow and prevent that person from doing evil.

 

Because if God were to exercise power in that way under the name of some conceive sovereignty, then God undermines what God has been aiming at from eternity. And that is for human beings to know, love and enjoy God now and for all eternity. God is ever aiming at Holy love, and there must be freedom for that holy love to occur. Even C.S. Lewis, when he was offering an apologetic in terms of the problem of pain and suffering, he appealed to this understanding that not even God in God's great power will will shut down human freedom. Because if God did that, then God shuts down love as well. The possibility for love, because love is the most free act of all. Love cannot be coerced. It cannot be forced. It cannot be determined. No other person could make us do it. It's an impossibility if you think the other person could coerce you into loving. You don't understand what we mean by biblical understanding of Holy love. Yeah. Does that is that helpful? Yeah, yeah, yeah. In the context of the attributes of God, yes. When we have passages, usually in the Old Testament about God changing his mind. Yeah. The example of Hezekiah or different times when God has said that there's going to be judgment and then he relents, how do we how do we understand that in the in terms of God's attributes? Yeah, I would see in light of what I've said, I would see such passages as not in any sense detracting from the divine immutability in terms of essence, but when I gave the example in terms of what's Leslie Weatherhead in his book, The Will of God, the Will of God can be expressed differently given the circumstances, because we made a distinction between the intentional will of God, the circumstantial will of God, and then the ultimate will of God.

 

Okay. And so when we look at those three and we gave the example of a 14 year old girl killed in an accident, you know, if someone were to come along and comfort the parents and say, oh, this was the will of God, you know, that your daughter died, I think that's just bad theology, that that was not the will of God, that this 14 year old girl would be killed by a drunk driver. But the will of God will be expressed in those circumstances in which there are there is there has been a context of freedom where sinners can do evil and not even Almighty God will prevent it. But notice this in whether heads reply the ultimate will of God is not defeated even by the sinful actions of the circumstances here in terms of this girl. Do you understand that? And this is of course is a rich appeal to a larger providence of God. In other words, a larger providence, speaking of the goodness of God, that we have a world in which there are sinful men and women who do evil to one another, but not even that, you know, under certain circumstances can defeat the overarching will of God. Certainly in terms of the example we gave. Yeah. Yeah. So, yeah, these are these are very good questions, by the way. These are very good questions. These are real thinking questions and grappling questions. And I, I very much appreciate them. So did you have a question? Well, that brings me to think about the flood. Okay. Okay. And destroying Sodom and Gomorrah. God didn't just let the people go, you know, doing evil. Well, you know, judgment came down on them on that. And so that's my question.

 

You know, how do you fit that in there? And as if that were a problem for what I see when I hear you describe, you're basically talking about two instances of the judgment of God. And then that makes perfect sense when we understand that God is a God of holy love. It might not make sense to some people in their theology if they simply said God is love and that, you know, any destruction somehow would undermine that love. But that's not Wesley's theology. And so in terms of the examples you've mentioned, I don't see that that is in any way contradictory to what Wesley is saying, because a God of holy love, precisely because God is love, is a judging God. In other words, wrath is a love word. It is a holy love word. The how. What would be another way of describing the wrath of God? The wrath of God is God's unending, determined opposition to evil. Okay. And at some point, that will be expressed. We call that judgment. Okay. Now, when people want to back away from that, say, oh, no, no, that we can't ascribe that to God, you know that that's to me. That's too bad. No, no, no. You're asking for less. You're asking for much less. You want to back away from Holy Love because you're asking God to tolerate evil and to bring an end to the divine being. And that's just theological nonsense. Wrath is a love word. It's a holy love word. God is unendingly ongoing, lead, determinedly, determinedly opposed to evil. And there comes a point when that evil is judged. And that's the examples you're talking about. That whole dynamic bespeaks wonderfully of Wesley's theology, because he is describing a God of holy love, not a God of a sentimentalized love, which I hear in lots of the theology out there today where basically God is good.

 

Why is God good? Because He indulges us in our evil, the evil that we like, and he allows us to continue to do it. Well, that wouldn't be God, because God knows in the divine wisdom that the evil we have embraced will ultimately lead to our destruction. And God cannot, will. It cannot. It's an impossibility because God is good. Yeah. Let me ask the question and then I'll explain the verbiage. Is God as just as he is loving? Or is love the overall arching concept of God and justice? And some of these other words are segments of his personality. The background is a friend who want to say, Well, God is love. That's everything. That's what he is, right? And so we would say, well, he's as just as he is loving and he will know no justice is just a part of God. Love is what he is overall. So are you. When you say God is about holy love, are you are you putting love as I can't think of the right word, but it covers everything. And then Justice and wrath and all those things are subcategories. Or is he is loving as he is just I think I can help you actually very quickly, because in the language I hear you using, I hear you using the language of justice on the one hand and the language of love on the other hand, as if somehow or other there's a tension between them. And on some level I think there is, but I think there also is a strong association. Take those two things. You just talked about justice and love, and they are actually together. They are together in this way. Justice relates to the holiness of God. So we talk about Holy Love when we've never been talking just about love.

 

We're always talking about Holy Love. And I grant you, it is a tension. It is a tension. And we tend not to like tension as we like flat footed answers. You know, this is a tension because if we think about the holiness of God in terms of things like judgment and wrath, when we think about the holiness of God in terms of separation, the Scripture says, you know, God's eyes are too pure to behold evil. When you think about that or when we look in Hebrews, it is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God. You know, there's a scripture to that to me, that easily is caught up in a unified conception of God because it bespeaks of the holiness of God. God is distinct, God is separate, and salvation, therefore, in a sense, is a preparation to be in the presence of God and not turn away in shame. And then, of course, there is the love of God and the love of God is outgoing, a full gent seeking communion, seeking fellowship. And they are their intention. They are held together. And I think we as the church should. Be emblematic of that tension, that if we neglect what you're calling the justice part and I'm calling the holiness part, then we become overrun with the world. The world basically displaces our story with their story, and we no longer are talking about holiness. Okay. On the other hand, if we simply focus on love, if we simply focus on love, you know, that's that's the predicament we're going to fall into. You know, we'll have a sentimentalized form of love. So I think. I think in answer to your question, I would see those two very things united in the very being of God, that when we speak of the wrath of God, that is another way of talking about the love of God.

 

And if we don't recognize that we have a misunderstanding of not only what love is, but who God is, and when we speak of the love of God, we also have to think of the justice of God. Because if we don't think of the justice of God when we're talking about the love of God, it's a sentimentalized, empty version. Like C.S. Lewis said, it's a conception of God as a kindly old grandfather who, at the end of the day said, a nice day was had by all. Yeah. And so, you know, we we, you know, think of it this way. Think of it this way. When we talk about the holy love of God, where is that revealed? It's revealed in Jesus Christ at Golgotha. Right there. Right there. There it is. That that's a serious love. That's a deep love. That's a powerful love. That and the seriousness bespeaks of the holiness of that love. But the forgiveness of it all speaks of the death of that love in seeking communion with sinners who are alienated from God, who are estranged from God. And yet God reaches out for us and wants communion, wants fellowship with us, who, you know, in a sense, have spit in the face of God. You say, And so I love your question because I think it really helps us to see that there's a tension at the heart of the divine being in terms of the holiness and love of God that not only is God relational at the core of God's being, you know, relations of Holy love, but that holiness and love, they're not flat footed understandings of who God is. Yeah.