Jan 27, 2017

Divine Infinity

Psalm 147:5

"Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure."

Professional theologians often distinguish between theology that proceeds by way of affirmation and theology that proceeds by way of negation. Theology done by affirmation seeks to say what God is. Such theology is also known as cataphatic theology and might include statements such as "God is good" or "God is holy."

Theology that proceeds by way of negation endeavors to say what God is not. Also known as apophatic theology, this theology of negation appears in statements such as "God is immutable," which means God is without change or without mutation. Another apophatic statement would be "God is immaterial," that is, God is not a material being or made of physical matter.

Today we are considering an apophatic statement with respect to God's attributes: God is infinite. Simply put, to say God is infinite is to say that He is not a finite being. The Lord has no limitations; as Psalm 147:5 puts it, the Lord is beyond measure. Something or someone that is beyond all human measure is infinite by definition. No matter how hard we try to "measure" God, He will always go beyond us.

Divine infinity is among the most difficult of God's attributes for us to conceptualize. It is nearly impossible for us to conceive of a being who has no limitations. We have limited life spans and must make choices on how to allocate limited resources. The distance between Orlando and Moscow might be vast, but it can still be measured. Once we reach the limit of the measurement, we will arrive in the city to which we are traveling. Even the largest homes are limited in space, having walls that define the boundaries of the structure. But the Lord transcends every finite category we can think of. He cannot be contained in space, in our minds, or in any other place.

God's infinity is a consequence of His greatness, and it is related to other attributes such as His being omnipotent, or all powerful. If the personal Creator cannot be contained or measured, then He can exert power over all else. Nothing can trap Him, but He can set limits on His creation. God's infinity also drives us to humility. As we have seen, we can know God truly but not fully. If the Lord cannot be measured, there are always limits to our understanding of Him. This should make us humble, as we recognize that God stands over us and all creation, even going far beyond all that we can conceive.

Coram Deo

God's being has no spatial limitations, but that does not mean there are not some things that the Lord cannot do. Our Creator, for example, is incapable of doing evil. He is morally constrained by His own character, which is perfectly good and holy. Because this holy God is infinite, He can bring His holiness to bear anywhere. No act of goodness or evil escapes His notice, so we should strive to obey our infinite God so that we will please Him.

For Further Study