An excerpt from the Baltimore Catechism. So concise … so informative … so true!
God and His Perfections
Lesson 2 from the Baltimore Catechism
“I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth …”
8. What do we mean when we say that God is the Supreme Being?
When we say that God is the Supreme Being we mean that He is above all creatures, the self-existing and infinitely perfect Spirit.
I am the First, and I am the Last, and besides me there is no God. (Isaiah 44:6)
9. What is a spirit?
A spirit is a being that has understanding and free will, but no body, and will never die.
To whom then have you likened God? Or what image will you make for Him? (Isaiah 40:18)
10. What do we mean when we say that God is self-existing?
When we say that God is self-existing we mean that He does not owe His existence to any other being.
I am who am. (Exodus 3:14)
11. What do we mean when we say that God is infinitely perfect?
When we say that God is infinitely perfect we mean that He has all perfections without limit.
Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; and of his greatness there is no end. (Psalm 144:3)
12. What are some of the perfections of God?
Some of the perfections of God are: God is eternal, all-good, all-knowing, all-present, and almighty.
13. What do we mean when we say that God is eternal?
When we say that God is eternal we mean that He always was and always will be, and always remains the same. ”
I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end,” says the Lord God. (Apocalypse 1:8)
14. What do we mean when we say that God is all-good?
When we say that God is all-good we mean that He is infinitely lovable in Himself, and that from His fatherly love every good comes to us.
For the word of the Lord is right; and all his works are done with faithfulness. He loveth mercy and judgment: the earth is full of the mercy of the Lord. (Psalm 32:4-5)
15. What do we mean when we say that God is all-knowing?
When we say that God is all-knowing we mean that He knows all things, past, present, and future, even our most secret thoughts, words, and actions.
Behold, O Lord, thou hast known all things, the last and those of old: thou hast formed me, and hast laid thy hand upon me. Thy knowledge is become wonderful to me: it is high, and I cannot reach it. (Psalm 138:5-6)
16. What do we mean when that God Is all-present?
When we say that God is all-present we mean that He is everywhere.
Whither may I go from thy spirit, or whither may I flee from they face? (Psalm 138:7)
17. If God is everywhere, why do we not see Him?
Although God is everywhere, we do not see Him because He is a spirit and cannot be seen with our eyes.
God is a spirit; and they that adore him must adore him in spirit and in truth. (John 4:24)
18. Does God see us?
God sees us and watches over us with loving care.
Be not solicitous therefore, saying: “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?” or “Wherewith will we be clothed?” For after all these things do the heathens seek. For your heavenly Father knoweth that you have need of all these things. (Matthew 6:31:32)
19. What is God’s loving care for us called?
God’s loving care for us is called Divine Providence.
Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. (I Peter 5:7)
20. What do we mean when we say that God is almighty?
When we say that God is almighty we mean that He can do all things.
For nothing shall be impossible with God. (Luke 1:37)
21. Is God all-wise, all-holy, all-merciful, and all-just?
Yes, God is all-wise, all-holy, all-merciful, and all-just.
The Lord is just in all his ways, and holy in all his works. (Psalm 144:17)
22. Can we know by our natural reason that there is a God?
We can know by our natural reason that there is a God, for natural reason tells us that the world we see about us could have been made only by a self-existing Being, all-wise and almighty.
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and injustice of those men that detain the truth of God in injustice; because that which is known of God is manifest in them. For God hath manifested it unto them. (Romans 1:18-19)
23. Can we know God in any other way than by our natural reason?
Besides knowing God by our natural reason, we can also know Him from supernatural revelation –that is, from the truths, found in Sacred Scripture and in Tradition, which God Himself has revealed to us.
All scripture, inspired of God, is profitable to teach, to reprove, to correct, to instruct in justice. (2 Timothy 3:16)
23a. What do we mean when we say that God has revealed these truths to us?
When we say that God has revealed these truths to us we mean that He has made them known to certain persons, to be announced to their fellow men as the word of God.
23b. What is the Bible?
The Bible is the written word of God, committed to His Church for the instruction and sanctification of mankind.
23c. What do we mean when we say that the entire Bible is inspired?
When we say that the entire Bible is inspired we mean that its principal author is God, though it was written by men whom God enlightened and moved to write all those things, and only those things, that He wished to be written.
23d. How is the Bible divided?
The Bible is divided into the Old Testament, written before the coming of Jesus Christ, and the New Testament, written after His ascension into heaven.
23e. Are all the passages of the Bible to be understood according to our modern manner of expression?
No; some of the passages of the Bible are not to be understood according to our modern manner of expression, since they contain certain figures of speech, parables, and literary forms used by the people of ancient times but not employed in the present.
23f. How can we know the true meaning of the Bible?
We can know the true meaning of the Bible from the teaching authority of the Catholic Church, which has received from Jesus Christ the right and the duty to teach and to explain all that God has revealed.
In these epistles there are certain things difficult to understand, which the unlearned and the unstable distort, just as they do the rest of the Scriptures also, to their own destruction. (II Peter 3:16)
23g. Are Catholics encouraged by the Church to read the Bible?
Yes; Catholics are encouraged by the Church to read the Bible, especially the Gospels, which tell about the earthly life of Jesus Christ, the Son of God made man.
23h. What is the chief message of the New Testament?
The chief message of the New Testament is the joyful announcement of our salvation through Jesus Christ.
These things are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing, you may have life in His name. (John 20:31)
23i. What is Divine Tradition?
Divine Tradition is the unwritten word of God – that is, truths revealed by God, though not written in the Bible, and given to the Church through word of mouth by Jesus Christ or by the apostles under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost.
23j. Has Divine Tradition ever been committed to writing?
Divine Tradition has been committed to writing, especially by saintly writers called Fathers, who lived in the early centuries but were not inspired, as were those who wrote the Bible.
23k. Has Divine Tradition the same force as the Bible?
Yes; Divine Tradition has the same force as the Bible, since it too contains God’s revelation to men.
23l. By what kind of act do we believe the doctrines contained in the Bible and in Divine Tradition?
We believe the doctrines contained in the Bible and Divine Tradition by an act of divine faith, which means that we accept them on the authority of God, who can neither deceive nor be deceived.