Divine Qualities

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The most profound quality in God is His infinite understanding. It is interesting that in the whole Bible the word "infinite" appears three times and only in the Old Testament. Of these three occurrences, only one is connected to a special attribute in God's nature. But more interesting thing is that it is not connected to God's power, but to His understanding: "Great is our Lord, and of great power: his understanding is infinite." (Psalm 147:5)

It is certainly that God is Great in Power, but that would not imply, in the rigour of logic, that God is absolutely All-powerful, meaning that God is infinite in power. We should not confuse the concept of the infinity in power with the concept of Omnipotence. The infinity in power would mean the absolute Omnipotence. Omnipotence per se does not imply the infinity in power. Nowhere in the whole Bible it is stated that God is infinite in power, although it is said that God is omnipotent (Rev. 196). It is certainly that God is omnipotent or almighty. However we should be very careful in attributing to God, in the name of Omnipotence, some properties which would render God in fact less perfect. With omnipotence we do not mean that God can do something against His nature, for instance, that He can sin or lie, since the Bible explicitly says that it is impossible for God to do such acts (Heb. 618). Therefore we should not say that God is absolutely omnipotent/almighty, confusing the infinity in power with omnipotence.

Instead, the word "infinite" is only once used in describing God, where God is described as infinite in understanding. It is strange that the Bible does not explicitly state that God is infinite in power, if it were true that infinity in power is a significant property of God, as some Christians would argue.

"Great is our Lord, and of great power: his understanding is infinite." In the very verse there is two mentioned attributes of God, namely power and understanding. Which of them has the quality of infinity? It is interesting that it is not connected to the power in the very verse, where "infinity" is mentioned. It is connected to an understanding. Why is our Lord great? Psalmist answers us: "His understanding is infinite."

What does this teach us? It teaches us that the Biblical God has an understanding of everything. That includes pain.

In the virtue of the infinity in His understanding, we observe the profound characteristic of the Biblical God: The Divine Empathy. The Empathy is an action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present. The Empathy is an act of understanding, and in God, this particular empathic understanding is infinite. Empathy is associated with an experience of every emotion and feeling, especially including those, which philosophers call qualia, the phenomenological raw feelings; the brute pain is a paradigmatic example per excellence in the contemporary discussion about the qualia within the philosophy of mind.

The God of the Bible is the Longsuffering God (Makrothumia of God), 1 Pet. 3:20, 2 Pet. 3: 9. Makrothumia of God demonstrates a profound quality, which we should more ponder about, namely the quality of Divine Vulnerability through manifested Divine Perfect Empathy.

-- Aleksandar Katanovic (akatanov@bigfoot.com), September 05, 2000

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