The Godness of God

Posted On December 10, 2017

The Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter Two, “Of God, The Holy Trinity,” states, “There is but one only, living and true God, who is infinite in being and perfection, a most pure spirit, invisible, without body, parts, or passions; immutable, immense, eternal, incomprehensible, almighty, most wise, most holy, most free, most absolute …” The end of Chapter two stresses the unity of the three Persons of the Godhead. When the Westminster Divines spoke of God in this way, they squarely placed themselves in a long-standing tradition, drawing from the pages of Holy Scripture, the writings of ancient and medieval theologians, and even the reflections of ancient philosophers.

We are ubiquitously confronted with the Godness of God in Scripture. Psalm 90:2 declares. “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.” Deuteronomy 10:17 states, “For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God.”

Scripture often follows the declaration that “the Lord is God,” with a necessary corollary or application. 2 Samuel 7:28 tells us, “O Lord God, You are God, and Your words are true.” Psalm 100:3, exclaims, “Know that the Lord, He is God,” followed by “It is He who made us, and we are His.”  “The Lord is God,” is followed by, “And He has made His light to shine upon us” in Psalm 118:27.

God is God, and there are implications, corollaries, applications, and consequences that flow from that. In short, Scripture teaches that God is God, the Godness of God as it were, and we are to honor, love, obey, and worship Him in every area of our life.

Over the centuries, theologians have expressed the Godness of God by declaring God’s infinite perfection and excellency. The glory of God, the holiness of God, the beauty and splendor of God—all of these biblical expressions point to the Godness of God. Plato and Aristotle, while not articulating anywhere near a full biblical expression of God, nevertheless spoke of God as a necessary and pure being. This line of thinking was developed by both Augustine in the early church and by Aquinas in the Middle Ages. Aquinas begins his magisterial work, The Summa Theologiae (1265-1274), with a brief discussion of the nature of doctrine, then plunges right in to the existence and nature of God. He proceeds to discuss the simplicity (meaning “without parts”), the perfection, the goodness, the infinity, the immutability, and the eternity, and the unity of God.  All of these are in the Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter Two.

After the Confession, Geneva’s Francis Turretin, follows a very similar outline to both Aquinas and the WCOF. Merely glancing at the Table of Contents for the early pages of his Institutes of Elenctic Theology (1679-1685) evidences this. The comparison of the content of Turretin and Aquinas is, in fact, striking. It’s right to conclude that there is a stream of thought here, a tradition that is being stewarded from one generation to the next.

Turretin was the leading textbook for Reformed theology both in Europe and in Colonial New England. It was the textbook of Jonathan Edwards at Yale. After completing his bachelor’s degree, Edwards took a brief pastorate in New York City. During that time in the summer of 1722, he preached a sermon entitled, “God’s Excellencies.” He was not yet nineteen-years old.

Edwards conveyed a singular doctrinal point in that sermon, “God is infinitely exalted in gloriousness and excellency above all created things.” It was a sermon on the Godness of God. Edwards, as may be expected, has many subpoints to make on the nature of God. He also has many points of application. This one stands out, “For except we believe the perfections of God, we shall never worship Him and love Him as He ought to be worshipped and loved.”

The Lord is God. Solo Deo. Let us know and love Him above all, and let us worship Him alone. Anything less is idolatry.

Dr. Stephen Nichols is president of Reformation Bible College.