Harmony of God’s Attributes


“All God’s attributes are inseparably joined: they cannot be divided, no, not for a moment,” said John Wesley, founder of Methodism. He taught that God’s attributes will never contradict each other. Accordingly, we will never have to worry about God overreacting, or doing something contradictory to one of his attributes. God’s attributes exist in harmony with each other.

This emphasis on the unity of God’s attributes is a strength of the Wesleyan-Arminian system. Other theological systems will probably affirm that they hold all the attributes of God in balance, but in reality, most of them emphasize one attribute at the expense of another. For instance, many Neo-Calvinists exalt the love and graciousness of God at the expense of God’s holiness. If they did not, they would not make statements such as: “Once you are saved, it doesn’t matter what you do as far as your eternal salvation is concerned. God only sees the blood of Jesus. He doesn’t see your sin.” That view is certainly emphasizing the love and grace of God at the expense of His holiness.

At the same time, 5-point Calvinists emphasize the role of God as sovereign King more than God’s role as loving Father. John Calvin, with his strict view of sovereignty, tended to say little of God’s fatherly love. John Wesley, however, emphasized the role of God as loving Father. Though God is certainly seen as King and Judge, His justice is situated in a better balance with His love. As loving Father to all His creation (in one sense), God is not going to pass over most of his condemned human creatures and only provide a way of salvation for a select few, as the Calvinists believe.

God’s transcendence (His being utterly distinct from His creation) and God’s immanence (His being present in His creation) are also attributes that must be held in careful balance with each other. Overemphasizing transcendence may result in deism, a belief in a God unconcerned with human affairs. Overemphasizing immanence may result in pantheism, a belief that everything is God. But both immanence and transcendence are true at the same time. The holy, transcendent God before whom we fall in worship is the same God we invite into our hearts to be our personal friend.

God’s holiness, love, sovereignty, transcendence, immanence, and the rest of His attributes must all be seen in harmony and balance. For God’s attributes cannot be divided, “no, not for a moment.”

Mark Bird
Mark Bird
Mark Bird is Professor of Theology and Apologetics at God's Bible School and College.