I stumbled across this quote that for me just shows how Christians thinkers, as humans, try to sift the mysteries of God into false hierarchical categories:
“Holiness is pre-eminent in God, for in the actual dealings of God his other attributes are conditioned and limited by his holiness. This is beheld excellently well on Calvary: in Christ’s redeeming work, love makes the atonement, but it is violated holiness that required it. The prime source out of which our salvation issued is God’s violated holiness. His love motivated him to actually accomplish it on our behalf, helpless and weak as we are.”
“In the same way, the eternal punishment of the wicked is irrevocable because of God’s unchangeable holiness. His self-vindication overbears the pleading of love for the sufferers.”
“Holiness shows itself higher than love, in that it conditions love. Hence God’s mercy does not consist in outraging his own law of holiness, laying it aside or even disparaging it. No, it is rather by enduring the penal affliction by which that law of holiness is satisfied.”
Really? Holiness is pre-eminent in God? “Holiness shows itself higher than love?”
Please. Love is not an attribute of God because it’s not a modifier. Holy, righteous, just, merciful, pure, wise, good, sovereign, powerful, glorious, eternal, impartial, etc. are all modifiers, thus attributes or inherent characteristics. Love is never a modifier. The Word does not say God is loving. Well it does (abounding in loving kindness), but it says “God is Love.” It says “God so loved….”
1 Peter 1:20: “He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake.” Jesus was chosen to suffer and die before He created the world, and yet He created it anyway. If holiness was pre-eminent or higher than love, if it conditioned and limited Love then God would have just destroyed the spoiled pot instead of reshaping it.
Every attribute of God is an attribute of Love because God is Love. Theos Agape.
Compare other uses of God and is.
For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God
For the LORD your God is a merciful God
God is giving you.
God is commanding you.
God is with you.
God is my rock.
God is greater than other gods.
God is gracious and compassionate.
God is mighty.
God is exalted in power.
God is our refuge.
God is merciful.
God is righteous.
God is sovereign
God is one.
God is truthful
God is God.
God is glorified.
God is Spirit.
God is light.
Almost all of these take the form of Noun Adjective (modifier). Some are Noun Noun, but the noun is a figurative expression of a spiritual truth (e.g. God is my rock. God is our refuge.) as it relates to us.
Here are the ones that don’t describe what I consider to be attributes; rather, they describe God Himself in Himself and they are all Noun Noun:
God is Love
God is Light
God is Spirit
God is One
Oneness isn’t an attribute; it’s not a characteristic; It IS
Spirit isn’t an attribute. It is a person of the trinity.
Light isn’t an attribute; it’s how He exists, is present.
John is the only one to use this phrase: Theos light is. This means: to be, to exist, to happen, to be present. This is how God is, exist and is present to us.
To me it’s similar to Yahweh. It is saying God exist as love; God exist as light. God exist as Spirit; God Exist as One.
They are not characteristics. God’s love manifest itself to us as attributes like holy, righteous, merciful, just, eternal, sovereign, steadfast, mighty, powerful, but his nature is Love.