Saturday, September 11, 2004

Attributes of God

I think I mentioned the fact that I had a great time at the conference in Ontario last week. I'm taking a break from the encampment posting to cover the conference before I lose all my best recollections to the ravages of memory loss. I think the best place to start would be the seminars themselves. They were a welcome switch after spending so many days the previous week in a harsh military setting.

The Attributes of God was the topic of the week. Right off, I was thankful because they were just doing one topic. Last year they did a mix of three and I found that a little shallow. A speaker can only go so deep on an issue or passage with such a limited time-frame. Next I was gratified with the speakers themselves (Mike Cuneo, a student at Greenville Seminary, and Reverend Overgaauw from one of our sister churches in Canada). You could tell that this was a topic near and dear to their hearts as they lovingly opened up the scriptures and dove in with an enthusiasm most rich.

They started in a good place. They went to the Westminster Confession of Faith and its answer to the question "What is God?"

God is a spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable, in His being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth.
-Shorter Catechism

It's a good definition--the best I have ever run up against. I've had the chance to study the Shorter Catechism in the past so happily I was familiar with it already. They went on to break down the attributes in the "incommunicable" (infinite, eternal, unchangeable) and "communicable" (et al) attributes. I think the most striking to me was the sessions we did on God's wisdom and His love. Both presented some of the most insightful and inspiring thoughts I had ever heard.

During the seminar on His love, for example, pastor Overgaauw at one point attacked the "God is love, love is God" fallacy as equal to Pantheism. In that way of thinking, people hear "God is love..." and think "God is weak." God cannot be brought down to such a level without losing His omnipotence.

Another thing which hit me--I've never heard someone say it quite like this: "What God loves in us is all the He sees of Himself in us..." I found that more than a little fascinating. I'm sure it would rub many people the wrong way. I was more than a little surprised by this simple explanation and I think I will give it a little more time and thought. It brings up several issues of context:

1) We are created in God's image.

If He loves to see us as proper reflections of his image then it also follows (and Rev. Overgaauw mentioned this) that He hates the defacing of His image.

2) God continued to love even after we failed to reflect Himself.

That is where we pause in awe. We are miserable failures in our duty to reflect His image and glory. Yet He still " loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son..." God's grace is the ultimate display of His love. Grace, as Rev. Overgaauw quoted from Louis Berkhof, is "the free bestowal of kindness on one that has no claim."

That is about as much as I have time for at the moment so I'll sign off...
<< Home 3 Comments:
Blogger Mark R said...

This is a comment. Enjoy!

7:51 PM, September 18, 2004  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok, I promised I would post a comment and this blog has interesting content so here goes. I'm glad to hear a pastor from a OCRC using the WCOF. hehehe. I believe I'd like to add an aspect to the God's Love topic. And that is, when God looks at us with love, it is becuase He sees Christ. Christ's righteousness covers us as a mantle and His glory is attributed to us. So when God the Father looks at us He sees The Son. Just thought I'd add another thought to that. Sounded like an interesting conference. (Sorry but not as good as the conference in AK though! hehehe. That's what you get, traitor!)


10:04 PM, September 20, 2004  
Blogger Mark R said...

Yes, Jackie, WMCF takes a whole different approach than the the Heidelberg et's just that, the approach and the emphasis. You will find the Shorter Catechism more definition oriented--it therefore has a lot more detail. Being written in English was also a help! The Heidelberg will take an applicatory approach to every little detail. Everything is in the first person. Unique and helpful to be sure, but I'm a little frustrated that they keep coming out with different translations. It's a real pain because I hate the latest ones. It's like they changed the wording for the sake of change!

10:40 PM, September 21, 2004  

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