Saturday, October 8, 2011

Michael Horton on Communicable and Incommunicable Attributes.

Horton organizes his discussion of the divine attributes with the distinction between communicable and incommunicable attributes. For example, eternity is non-communicable, whereas wisdom or goodness is reflected in creatures, and therefore communicable. Historically Lutherans have stated that all attributes are communicable insofar as they are communicated within the hypostatic union. We must be clear though that said communication is hypostatic (as Gerhard puts it), rather than analogical. In this sense Lutherans can agree with the Reformed that creatures cannot possess the incommunicable attributes by way of created similitude of the analogy of being, whereas they disagree within them regarding the hypostatic communication of the attributes within the person of Christ. This also explains how the Reformed misunderstood the Lutheran teaching regarding the genus majestaticum. Since their could only conceptualize communication in the form of created similitude, they assumed that the Lutherans meant a transmutation of the human nature into a second-second person of the Trinity.


  1. If the incommunicable attributes are only communicated to Christ, will we then, be unlike Him when we see Him as He is?

  2. I don't mean that it is impossible for God to communicate his essence to other creatures, I simply mean that the only instance as of now is Christ. Certainly by participation "the corruptible will put on the incorruptible" because we will "participate in the divine nature." The point is that we will possess God's glory (as Paul puts it) by participation, not by created likeness. One of the difficulties of the Reformed position is that they believe that the divine essence can only be communicated by created likeness, so they have no concept of communication by participation.