Genesis Part Three: Deep Dive
THE PERSONALITY OF GOD | RYAN KERRISON
Personality can be described as the quality of being a person. Further definition exposes a flaw in the ability to discuss God’s own personality, but here goes. The APA adapts the explanation from Kazdin, that personality ‘refers to individual differences in characteristic patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving’. The trouble with this is it is a humanistic definition and thus it can’t ever fully represent the whole image of God. God is a triune being, three distinctly personal individuals, each with certain ‘personality’ traits, yet in a sense, they’re a collective entity. It’s a tricky concept, but allow me to use the idea of personality to explore God as Creator and how He relates to His creations.
We’ll examine three traits of God’s personality: the knowability of God, the forgiveness of God and the love of God. These are not by any means exhaustive, however, they are crucial aspects of God’s personality.
Jeremiah 9:23-24 says that we can know God, and it is evident in the relationship with His ultimate creation – humanity. We particularly see this throughout Genesis, in the relationship within the Garden of Eden, to the guidance and leadership of the Patriarchs and the Israelites, right through to the life and relationship God has with Joseph. God is constantly speaking, and revealing aspects of Himself to humankind. It is demonstrated by scripture that God, in His divine glory, desired to be known by His creation, to share in His being with us. Calvin writes that ‘the knowledge of God is and the knowledge of ourselves are interconnected’. God has provided His creation with His divine Word, and the person of the Holy Spirit through which we may discover more and know more about His nature, and through the Holy Spirit’s transformative work, we would become more like Him, turning from sinfulness and pursuing holiness.
The second aspect is the forgiveness of God. Per an orthodox Christian worldview, humanity is in a fallen state, ever since the deeds committed by our representatives in the Garden. We are dead in our sin, and have transgressed the moral law of God. This would seem a rather bleak end to our ability to know and relate to God, however, by means marvelous deific design, the story only begins here, and climaxes at the cross in Calvary, only to culminate with new heavens and a new Earth with reconciled relationship, solely dependent on the scandalous and relentless expression of forgiveness from the Father, through the Son, revealed and nurtured by the Holy Spirit.
The final personality trait of God explored in this Deep Dive is the love of God. It would be hard to beat the definition of love provided in 1 John 3:16, ‘By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers’. In short, it is sacrifice, through which love is encompassed, and furthermore, John writes, ‘Anyone who does not know love does not know God, because God is love’. This is, I believe, one of the most unadulterated expression of God’s personality. He is love. The Son embodies and becomes incarnate in order to express this mysterious love, and the Holy Spirit, to employ Augustinian terminology, is the vinculum amoris, or the ‘bond of love’.