The Fourth Question

The fourth question of the Westminster Shorter Catechism is fairly simple: “What is God?” The answer is a helpful summary of essential truths about God’s nature: “God is a Spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in his being , wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth.”

A difficulty may arise in trying to understand the grammar of the answer. Alexander Whyte expresses the sense well:

in his being The foregoing words infinite, eternal, and unchangeable characterize and describe the being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth of God. He is infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in each and all of these attributes.

This is well expressed in the modern English version of the answer: “God is a spirit, Whose being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth are infinite, eternal, and unchangeable.”

In other words, God’s being (His essence) is infinite, eternal, and unchangeable. His wisdom is infinite, eternal, and unchangeable. His power is infinite, eternal, and unchangeable. His holiness is infinite, eternal, and unchangeable. His justice is infinite, eternal, and unchangeable. His goodness is infinite, eternal, and unchangeable. His truth is infinite, eternal, and unchangeable.

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