“probably the best definition of God ever penned by man.”

That is what no less than Charles Hodge said about the following quote:

“God is a Spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable, in His being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth.”

Where is that definition found?

The Westminster Shorter Catechism Q.4. (“What is God?”)

Not only did Hodge give high praise to that particular question in the above quote (see title of this post), but he went a lot further than that.

If you look at the table of contents of his 3-volume Systematic Theology, you will notice that he actually uses Westminster Shorter Catechism Q.4 as an outline of sorts for nearly his entire treatment of the attributes of God (p.376-439 in particular).  He goes through every word in the definition (i.e. Spirit, infinite, eternal, unchangeable, etc.) one by one and provides a detailed treatment of each one!

Clearly Dr. Hodge held the Shorter Catechism (and all of the Westminster Standards) in very high regard, particularly Q.4.

Take some time to dig into the Shorter Catechism.  You will be glad that you did!

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3 comments

  1. First a qualification. I have never read Charles Hodge so forgive me if I am being unfair.
    I find what Charles Hodge says about the Westminster definition of God unhelpful. This is because surely the best definition of God would actually be what He actually says about Himself – e.g. I AM WHO I AM (Exodus 3) or “The LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness etc” (Exodus 34vv6-7), or “I am humble and gentle in heart” (Matthew 11v27-30)
    Does Charles Hodge’s detailed treatment of each word involve a lot of technical or philosophical definitions? I’m just thinking that when the LORD reveals/defines Himself, He doesn’t spend much time at all giving us “definitions” – as we read the Bible we simply see what He means by all those things that He says about Himself?
    Just a thought!

    1. Hodge isn’t saying that the Shorter Catechism is superior to Scripture on these things. When he said “penned by man” he was saying merely penned by man (as distinct from Scripture, which is the inspired Word of God).

      Hodge spends the better part of 70 pages fleshing out that definition, largely from Scripture.

      Read it for yourself – it’s quite good.

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