Writing a definition for God is inherently difficult, and problematic. There are two main problems with each attempt to define God. The first problem is that we only know what He has revealed to us, so any definition will necessarily be incomplete. The second problem is that while we can use words to describe God, none of those words can help us actually understand Him. Still, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.

Please don’t bother complaining that I’ve missed something or that my descriptions are insufficient. This is undoubtedly true not only of my descriptions of God, but of any. Your sincere suggestions and honest conversation are always welcome.

Anselm of Canterbury (1033–1109) famously wrote that God is “that than which nothing greater is conceivable.” If you can think of a way to make God better, you’ve improved your own definition of God. In that sense, God is ‘maximally perfect.’ That is, there can be no improvements to God Himself… He is the ultimate being. He’s not only intelligent, His intelligence could not be greater. He’s not only loving, His love could not be better. He’s not only powerful, He couldn’t possibly become more powerful. With every description of God’s attributes comes the idea that none of them could be improved.

God describes Himself in the Bible, so we have some information about His nature, His character, and so on. God’s revelation of Himself changed over time. Abraham’s understanding of God was not as complete as the apostle Peter’s understanding of God, for example. This is because God chose to continue revealing more about Himself throughout history. Here’s a very incomplete and simplified list of some of God’s attributes:

In addition to these traditional attributes, it might be useful to make another list:

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