Attributarianism and the Godhead


[size=150]Attributarianism and the Godhead; An Introduction[/size]

[size=85]Attributarianism seeks to express God as a synonymous unanimous oneness of persons and attributes, who interact and exist co-existentially, co-essentially, interpanentheistically, and interpanenexistentially in heterogenous synonymy; especially synonymy of one will and one identity; God, the omniessential supreme being.[/size]

The Godhead, and the nature of the Godhead is one of debate and scrutiny; an ever continuing quest to understand the nature of the unfathomable and infinite God, especially as it pertains to his revealed persons.

Attributarian, and Attributarianism; these are terms that I’ve coined to describe the philosophical and doctrinal position on the nature of God and the Godhead that I have been working on as of late, and hope to expound on here and elsewhere as my thesis grows and my study deepens.

As of late I’ve been studying or thinking about the nature of God, and specifically how he has revealed himself to his creation - and as I’ve progressed further and further more questions and concepts have arisen to add to the view and express it more accurately.

Concepts and questions such as; Is God also female? Is Michael also God? What of Melchizedek? Who exactly is the Angel of the Lord?

Other contributing factors include my recent revelation that God is internally consistent, and unanimous in all of his attributes. That is to say; God exists in a state of “unanimous oneness”; his Love is his Justice, and vice versa.
Another contributing factor is that the Bible’s records of God contain many names and many visions and various epiphanies given to mankind, that the traditional views have trouble explaining (at least to laymen), and that less common views such as Modalism and Unitarianism do not explain sufficiently at all, at least in any satisfactory way for my sake.

To begin explaining my idea behind Attributarianism, I must begin at the very source of the position; the synonymous unanimous oneness of the divine attributes of God.

God is not a house divided against itself, and so his Love is not contradictory or pitted against his Justice, for example, and neither are his Holiness and Wrath pitted against his Grace and his Mercy. They interact with each other in perfect unity, and oneness to achieve the will and purpose of God. But not only do they do as such, interacting in unity, but they are likewise so infinitely interpenetrating within one another, and so expressive of the same divine substance; that they are in truth synonymous both essentially and existentially. God is One.

Effectively the logic follows this idea in application;
[size=85]God is Love, God is Justice: God is Love, God is Justice; therefore Love is God, Justice is God.[/size]

Effectively there is a common factor and substance with all of the attributes of God; they are God and God is them, and therefore;
[size=85]Love is Justice, Justice is Love[/size]

Thus it is that “God and God” must by nature be in a state of synonymous unanimous oneness, in which all of his persons and attributes are in one accord achieving the will of God. Likewise they are all one essential existential substance or identity; in perfect unity of expression, infinite and divine.

All that God is, is all that God is.

It was out of this edict that Attributarianism was born.

Attributarianism presents the persons of God under the idea of “hyper-attributes”, not in that they are impersonal qualities of God; far from it, but rather it is a way of bringing to the mind of the student an understanding of how the One God can be so eternally manifest in so many diverse qualities, yet maintain such divine unanimity and synonymy.

In the same way that God’s divine attributes; such as Love and Justice are in infinite and divine “synonymous unanimous oneness”, so too are the persons of God. Effectively the persons of God exist and act in the same manner as God’s attributes. Perhaps even, the persons of God and the attributes of God exist interexistentially with and as each other in the same way that the persons of God, and the attributes of God exist in each other; in that very same synonymy.

Every revealed, and unrevealed expression, attribute, name, title, and person of God are synonymously The One God, and The One God is synonymously them. Every person (hyper-attribute) of God existing as co-eternal, co-operative, co-interactive, co-existent, co-equivalent, co-essential, self-evident manifestations and expressions of the same being, substance, and identity of The One God.

[size=85]End of Introduction, til more to come has come.[/size]


It’s interesting that Wisdom is personified in Proverbs as a beautiful and faithful woman. Maybe she’s more than a literary device…


This is an interesting way to approach the Shema unity. I suppose we could call it “Shemanitarianism”, although people might get the wrong idea about that one… :laughing:

I’m definitely interested, because even though I believe that Jesus is God (at least in one sense), the Father is God (duh), and the Holy Spirit is God, I refuse to be a trinitarian. Trinitarianism might be the “best wrong answer” (as my junior high math professor used to say :mrgreen: ), but it doesn’t sit right with me.


I feel the same in many respects, it is the closest (I believe) current doctrine, to what is actually true of the nature of the Godhead; at least as far as traditional doctrines go. I’m a Trinitarian by default, especially in regards to the deityship and personhood of Christ, and the sentience of the Holy Spirit (he/she/it is not a mere energy or force) – But I don’t like the idea of existential division between the persons, in the same way I don’t like existential division between the attributes of Love and Justice, that there can be contention or contrary between them. I also am inclined to believe there is more to the Godhead than three members. Or else these members are capable of showing themselves as more than three persons, at which case it logically goes back to square one; it is more than just a trinity.

Of course, Modalism doesn’t explain the Godhead sufficiently for me either, I believe God can interact with himself; all of his persons, and that all of his persons are co-eternal. The same issues I have with Unitarianism are that I cannot hold to any idea that I feel does not give full deity ship to Christ, or Spirit.

Attributarianism (or what ever I decide to name it if I find a better/prettier word) seeks to express God as a synonymous unanimous oneness of persons and attributes, who interact and exist co-existentially and co-essentially (and interpanentheistically) in synonymy; especially synonymy of one will and one identity; God.


Ins discussing statements of faith, the Moderators recently discussed the adequacy of Trinitarian language for describing the N.T. view of Jesus, and I especially sympathized with doubts about its’ exegetical and philosophical justification.

I am presently at Vancouver’s Regent College studying this issue in “Devotion to Jesus in Earliest Christianity” with Edinburgh’s Larry Hurtado, and realizing valuable bibliography on this is large. E.g. Hurtado’s “How on Earth Did Jesus Become a God?” and “One God, One Lord: Early Christian Devotion and Ancient Jewish Monotheism.” Similar is Richard Bauckham’s “Jesus and the God of Israel.” Perhaps most reflective of my own inclination is James D. G. Dunn’s “Did the First Christians Worship Jesus? The New Testament Evidence.”


I agree with so much here, Lefein. Thanks for sharing your journey. I’d like to wait until you work it out in terms of the Father, Son, and Spirit. I’m all ears. I suspect there will be some disagreement over how like an attribute a person is. There will be some definitional/logical work to do there. Persons are bearers of attributes or properties, but it’s a category mistake to say persons are attributes. Attributes of what? That’s not to say there’s not a certain equivalence between persons or substances and their properties or attributes. It’s just to say that the distinction is real. But I’d like to hear you out on this.

I’ve just run into Hurtado’s stuff on early Christian devotion of Jesus too, and I’m jealous of the time Bob’s having at Regent! Why am I not surprised you lean toward Dunn on this? :sunglasses: I suppose you’re into the conversation between Hurtado and Dunn too. Good stuff.



Yeah, there is yet much to work out and describe in more definite and perfect terms. Which I am sure will come as I find them, and more come to me. :slight_smile:

As for the attributes, my intention is not so much to put the persons of the Godhead into a state of being literal attributes, or impersonal qualities (if even God’s divine attributes could be impersonal qualities, which I suspect is not quite so); but rather to bring to mind, almost in a parable form, the idea that God is as One in his diverse - but synonymous - expressions of Identity as are his attributes. That is to say, Father and Son work on the same principle as Love and Justice.

Love and Justice can appear very different to the one experiencing it, and true they are not “homogeneously synonymous”, but rather “heterogeneously synonymous” - but fundamentally they are the very same thing, still being synonymous; Love and Justice interacting with one another to achieve their synonymous will, which is the very heart of their being; the expression of themselves in purpose. Yet they are One, I believe.

So it is with the persons of God, who each bear the fullness of God’s qualities and attributes, even if it is uniquely so. If that makes sense.


Hmm. Interesting stuff there, Bob and Tom. What formats are Dunn’s and Hurtado’s work in? I’d be interested in checking those out.

I totally hear what you’re saying Lefein. I’ve struggled with this ever since becoming a universalist roughly four years ago, and I appreciate your thoughts here.


I checked out Amazon and some of the reviews for Dr. Dunn’s book. I found this section in one of the reviews interesting:

*The discussion in chapter 3 prepares the way for the analysis in chapter 4, which analyzes the New Testament evidence and draws the final conclusions. Dunn asks if Jesus was a monotheist and what the implications of an affirmative answer to that question would be. He engages Paul’s application of the title kyrios (‘Lord’) to Jesus and he considers the motifs of Word, Wisdom, and Spirit. Also featured is a grappling with the texts that refer to Jesus as theos (‘God’). A few other issues permeate the chapter, and Dunn asks whether Bauckham’s concept of divine identity/christological monotheism ends up confusing the issues more than clarifying them.

The book is fairly short for such a study, but it is even-handed and relevant. Dunn writes clearly and always considers all the evidence. Often times, he asks questions of the text and the issues that few of us would even think to ask, and this knack of his has the effect of bringing the matters into sharper focus. The sense I get from the book is that Jesus was venerated, not worshipped; that the exalted Christ was accorded honor and glory, but that he was not included as part of the God of Israel. Dunn always strives to remain faithful to the human dimension of Jesus and the fundamental monotheism of Judaism and Christianity. Here is the last paragraph of the book:

“So our central question can indeed be answered negatively, and perhaps it should be. But not if the result is a far less adequate worship of God. For the worship that really constitutes Christianity and forms its distinctive contribution to the dialogue of the religions, is the worship of God as enabled by Jesus, the worship of God as revealed in and through Jesus. Christianity remains a monotheistic faith. The only one to be worshipped is the one God. But how can Christians fail to honour the one through whom it believes the only God has most fully revealed himself, the one through whom the only God has come closest to the condition of humankind? Jesus cannot fail to feature in their worship, their hymns of praise, their petitions to God. But such worship is always, should always be offered to the gory of God the Father. Such worship is always, should always be offered in the recognition that God is all in all, and that the majesty of the Lord Jesus in the end of the day expresses and affirms the majesty of the one God more clearly than anything else in the world”*


An interesting article, though I find myself distanced from it for my own prerequisite-absolute for faith; the Deity of Christ.


I’m really interested to read the book, now that Bob has said that Dunn’s thinking is in line with his own.

I’m not certain from what I’ve seen in the reviews that he is denying the deity of Christ, simply that the evidence points to Christ not being worshipped as the One true God (aka the Father), but rather glorified and honored in worship toward the Father as the one through whom that worship is done (and is possible).

For those who are familiar with Dunn’s work; would you say that is an accurate representation?


Mel, I’m only aware of the cited works as available in print, and I plan to order Dunn’s book to give it a closer look. Thus I am not prepared to characterize it, and would be wary of saying that I know what is the best language to characterize the N.T.'s high Christology, or even the nature of God. I’m concentrating on grasping Hurtado’s views, which appear a bit more congruent with common evangelical understandings, especially that our ‘advanced understanding’ of Christology developed shortly after Christ’s death (and early texts do seem to bolster a high view). What I sense so far in the class, is that these Christian scholars are “sparring partners,” as Dr. Hurtado likes to put it, but the clearcut differences are not obvious, in that they each recognize a lot of the same things in the key N.T. texts. But they differ in the nuances of how they interpret the significance of what they agree is said, and perhaps on how well the later language of theological formulations fits those N.T. passages. I hope I can gain more clarity and eventually post some more.

Tom, thanks, you are so right that this class sounds like something a solid thinker like yourself would deeply enjoy. Wish you could be here! I feel blessed to have the retired opportunity to do such things that I love, and to have a wife who likes to accompany me.


Ah, ok. That makes sense based on some comments earlier in the review of the segment I posted. Dunn himself says there is a high degree of agreement between them, so it does appear to be very nuanced, as you say.