As I set to the task of writing this book, Attributes of Splendour, I have to ask that among the countless books already in existence on the attributes of God, why add another? Will it be any better than they? Probably not? Will it say anything truly new? Very doubtful! So why? Well, I do have some things that I want to say, and I will perhaps say at least some of them differently, and I may manage to tread upon a new pathway here and there.
As I set to the task of writing this book, Attributes of Splendour, I have to ask that among the countless books already in existence on the attributes of God, why add another? Will it be any better than they? Probably not. Will it say anything truly new? Very doubtful! So why? Well, I do have some things that I want to say, and I will perhaps say at least some of them differently, and I may manage to tread upon a new pathway here and there. I might even deserve the encomium that Alexander Pope composed in 1715 to “an ingenious friend” –
Tho’ many a Wit from time to time has rose
T’inform the World of what it better knows,
Yet ’tis a Praise that few their own can call,
To tell men things they never knew at all.
Attributes of Splendour. So then, how shall we approach the subject? My first intention was, in fact, to adopt a formal outline, with some variations of my own. But the more I worked on it, the less I liked it. Somehow, I felt as if I were violating the splendour of the Lord, that I was trying to imprison the Infinite in small boxes of my own making.
I finally decided to abandon theological formality, and to present my thoughts, not in the usual style, but rather as a series of reflections, or meditations. I hope this will help the book to seem like a loving discussion with the Father rather than a chilly exercise in logical dogma.
Consequently, this volume may lack some coherence, and certainly lacks completeness. A full study of the divine attributes would occupy several hundred more pages than you will find here. If you really wish to study the theme exhaustively then turn to the internet. You will easily find thousands of pages dealing with every aspect of the doctrine of God!
Montaigne says that the eminent Greek physician Philotimus (4th century BC) scolded a man who was worried about a sore finger when he had an ulcerated lung. Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for the same folly – straining out gnats while they swallowed camels – and theologians, too, have often been guilty of majoring in minors and minoring in majors. Nowhere is that truer than here. Church leaders have excommunicated each other and banished entire groups of churches into outer darkness simply because of some difference of opinion about this or that aspect of God’s being, nature, and attributes. Yet their dogma has sometimes rested more upon human reason than upon biblical revelation – or else they frequently place more weight on a verse than it can sensibly carry – or they build a doctrine by collecting only certain passages while relegating others to the dustbin. The result is dogma that says more about its creators than it does about God!
Perhaps I am guilty of the same folly. I hope not. Yet while I know that some extension of scripture is unavoidable, I have tried to do as little of it as possible. You will have to judge for yourself whether my aspiration has been more noble than my achievement.
But this is certainly true – the only infallible thing in this world is the Word of God itself, not human interpretations of that Word. So beware when anyone (myself included) seems to be pressing beyond what the Bible actually says. Perhaps they speak truly; perhaps they don’t!
At least I will say this when the Bible declines to spell out a matter clearly, and I do find myself obliged to fill in at least some of the gaps, I know what I am doing. Consequently, I refuse to get angry when someone chooses to use a different filler. They have as much right − if they act in godly sincerity − to their opinion as I have to mine.
On the doctrine of God, the Bible shows admirable restraint and leaves many questions unanswered. We too should be content with a little darkness and resist the urge to wrap the Lord God into our faulty definitions and shackle him with our far-from-infallible creeds.
So my purpose here is not to explain God, for that is impossible. My desire is simply to set down some thoughts and ideas that I hope will enrich your life and will be taken as the witness of a loving and worshipful believer to the glory of the Lord.
This book is now also available as an ebook from Smashwords Attributes Of Splendour
All Scripture is God-breathed and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfected, thoroughly furnished to every good work. (2Ti 3:16-17)
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