Now Christian theology has always been more or less conscious of this calling. On the whole, its teaching has been that God is “simple,” that is, sublimely free from all composition, and that therefore one cannot make any real [i.e., ontological] distinction between his being and his attributes. Each attribute is identical with God’s being: he is what he possesses. In speaking of creatures we make all sorts of distinctions between what they are and what they have. A person, for example, is still human even though he or she has lost the image of God and has become a sinner. But in God all his attributes are identical with his being. God is light through and through; he is all mind, all wisdom, all logos, all spirit, and so forth. In God “to be is the same as to be wise, which is the same as to be good, which is the same as to be powerful. One and the same thing is stated whether it be said that God is eternal or immortal or good or just.” Whatever God is, he is that completely and simultaneously. “God has no properties but is pure essence. God’s properties are really the same as his essence: they neither differ from his essence nor do they differ materially from each other.”68

68. Augustine, The Trinity, VI, 7; John of Damascus, The Orthodox Faith, I, 9; T. Aquinas, Summa theol., I, qu. 2, art. 3; H. Heppe, Dogmatik der evangelisch-reformierten Kirche, 42, 51–53; H. F. F. Schmid, Doctrinal Theology of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, 122.

—Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics: God and Creation, trans. John Bolt and John Vriend, vol. 2 (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2004), 118.


Taken from R. Scott Clark’s THE HEIDELBLOG; August 27, 2016.