Westminster Shorter Catechism, Question 4

Q. 4. What is God?

A. God is a spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable, in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness and truth.

One of the beauties of the Catechism is that each question builds on the question before. We were just told that the Scriptures principally teach what man is to believe concerning God, and now the Westminster divines provide a summary of the attributes of God. Of course, the Bible cannot tell us everything about God; first of all, because He is infinite, and secondly, because as creatures we could never comprehend it. He reveals Himself to us at a level that we can understand. To use John Calvin’s word, He “prattles” to us as a parent does to a young child.

I am not one to quote Karl Barth in an approving way often, but when he said that God was “wholly other,” I concur completely. He is not an elevated man as the Greeks and Romans viewed their gods, but He is the eternal, sovereign, omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, just and holy Creator of the universe. However, I am so glad that the catechism includes the attribute “good” in that list. It reminded me of Mr. Beaver’s description of Aslan to the children in “The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe:”

“‘Safe?’ said Mr. Beaver; ‘don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.’”

“Lord, even as we look in wonder at Your glory, may we rest in the truth of Your goodness.”



  1. thinkactlive said,

    January 4, 2013 at 10:42 AM

    What a mighty God we serve! And in Him, justice and mercy have kissed.

    • cliftonr said,

      January 4, 2013 at 11:05 AM

      I love that verse, Diane:

      “Lovingkindness and truth have met together; Righteousness and peace have kissed each other.” (Psalm 85:10)

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