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All That Is in God: Evangelical Theology and the Challenge of Classical Christian Theism

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Unknown to many, increasing numbers of conservative evangelicals are denying basic tenets of classical Christian teaching about God, with departures occurring even among those of the Calvinistic persuasion. James E. Dolezal’s All That Is in God provides an exposition of the historic Christian position while engaging with these contemporary deviations. His convincing critiq Unknown to many, increasing numbers of conservative evangelicals are denying basic tenets of classical Christian teaching about God, with departures occurring even among those of the Calvinistic persuasion. James E. Dolezal’s All That Is in God provides an exposition of the historic Christian position while engaging with these contemporary deviations. His convincing critique of the newer position he styles “theistic mutualism” is philosophically robust, systematically nuanced, and biblically based. It demonstrates the need to maintain the traditional viewpoint, particularly on divine simplicity, and spotlights the unfortunate implications for other important Christian doctrines—such as divine eternality and the Trinity—if it were to be abandoned. Arguing carefully and cogently that “all that is in God is God Himself,” the work is sure to stimulate debate on the issue in years to come.


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Unknown to many, increasing numbers of conservative evangelicals are denying basic tenets of classical Christian teaching about God, with departures occurring even among those of the Calvinistic persuasion. James E. Dolezal’s All That Is in God provides an exposition of the historic Christian position while engaging with these contemporary deviations. His convincing critiq Unknown to many, increasing numbers of conservative evangelicals are denying basic tenets of classical Christian teaching about God, with departures occurring even among those of the Calvinistic persuasion. James E. Dolezal’s All That Is in God provides an exposition of the historic Christian position while engaging with these contemporary deviations. His convincing critique of the newer position he styles “theistic mutualism” is philosophically robust, systematically nuanced, and biblically based. It demonstrates the need to maintain the traditional viewpoint, particularly on divine simplicity, and spotlights the unfortunate implications for other important Christian doctrines—such as divine eternality and the Trinity—if it were to be abandoned. Arguing carefully and cogently that “all that is in God is God Himself,” the work is sure to stimulate debate on the issue in years to come.

30 review for All That Is in God: Evangelical Theology and the Challenge of Classical Christian Theism

  1. 4 out of 5

    Douglas Wilson

    I really enjoyed this book, and want to commend it to everyone. Dolezal does a fantastic job of outlining the classical view of God's simplicity, contrasting it with "theistic mutualism." What Dolezal says in his conclusion is, by the time you reach that conclusion, undeniable: "These two approaches to the doctrine of God are not two slightly different ways of saying basically the same thing" (p. 135). As might be inferred from the above, I am in the classical theist stream, enthusiastically so. I really enjoyed this book, and want to commend it to everyone. Dolezal does a fantastic job of outlining the classical view of God's simplicity, contrasting it with "theistic mutualism." What Dolezal says in his conclusion is, by the time you reach that conclusion, undeniable: "These two approaches to the doctrine of God are not two slightly different ways of saying basically the same thing" (p. 135). As might be inferred from the above, I am in the classical theist stream, enthusiastically so. When it comes to the main outlines of Trinitarian theology, I think the historic catholic view gets it right. But, having said this, I do want also to confess that Thomas and Thomists sometimes remind me of a college of June bugs trying to explain quantum physics, and so I want to acknowledge the importance of that phrase above, "main outlines." We sometimes ask and try to answer questions about God that we have no business trying to answer. I also want to note that his discussion of the authority of the Father ad intra (pp. 132-134) is, in my view, inadequate. Authority and submission within the Godhead is no more incongruous than a Father and Son within the Godhead, provided it is articulated in the same spirit. And I tended to agree with the reviewer at the Calvinist International who kicked at the simple inclusion of Frame and Vanhoozer in the ranks of the theistic mutualists. For these (and a few other things) I wavered between five stars and four, but I still came down on five. This is a really important book because it reveals how many of the ancient landmarks are being shuffled around. And Dolezal manages to talk about very serious issues with the seriousness they deserve, but without going into hysterics over the heresies. It was just very well done.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Andrzej Stelmasiak

    6 stars out of 5.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jacob Aitken

    Dolezal, James. All That is in God: Evangelical Theology and the Challenge of Classical Christian Theism. Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 2017. All that is in God is God. That’s the argument of the book. It is short but rhetorically powerful. What Dolezal means is that by God’s simplicity, he is not composed of “parts,” whether physical or material. If what we call God’s attributes weren’t identical to the divine essence, then those attributes would constitute God. That means God wo Dolezal, James. All That is in God: Evangelical Theology and the Challenge of Classical Christian Theism. Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 2017. All that is in God is God. That’s the argument of the book. It is short but rhetorically powerful. What Dolezal means is that by God’s simplicity, he is not composed of “parts,” whether physical or material. If what we call God’s attributes weren’t identical to the divine essence, then those attributes would constitute God. That means God would be God by virtue of something which itself isn’t God. That means God would get actuality from something that isn’t God. This is clearly impossible if we view God as the cause of all things. How could something caused by God constitute part of God? That’s the argument of the book in a nutshell. From that powerful platform, Dolezal examines what he calls “theistic mutualism,” which can be anything from process theology to open theism to otherwise good Calvinists who deny God’s simplicity. Regardless of which variant is under discussion, Dolezal demonstrates that their lack of a robust grammar of divine simplicity ultimately cannot succeed. Dolezal explores the standard problems with divine simplicity. We’ll look at one. Simplicity says that God is his attributes. By contrast, if I say “James is wise and powerful,” I have stated a subject with two predicates. If I say “God is wise and powerful,” I have not stated two separate things about God. God’s attributes do not add up to be God. He is not the sum of his parts. The difficulty is that if God is identical with his attributes, then each attribute is identical to each other. That seems counterintuitive. However, denying this claim ultimately reduces to the unacceptable conclusion that God is composed of parts (e.g., justice, love, etc). How do we solve this problem? We have to commit ourselves to some view of analogical language. We are discussing a reality that far transcends human categories, but is nonetheless analogical to them. This book functions as a theological grammar. It is definitely recommended reading not only for the doctrine of God, but also for theological method.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Samuel Parkison

    This is was a tough read. Not because Dolezal was hard to understand, or because his writing was particularly dense, but because he compellingly criticizes many of my theological heroes. If the recent public Trinity kerfuffle has taught me anything, it’s that I should be slow to fire off with denunciations and judgments about the views of men wiser and more careful than myself, so I will not say anything more than this: Dolezal is lucid formidable. Debunking (let alone, disregarding) his argumen This is was a tough read. Not because Dolezal was hard to understand, or because his writing was particularly dense, but because he compellingly criticizes many of my theological heroes. If the recent public Trinity kerfuffle has taught me anything, it’s that I should be slow to fire off with denunciations and judgments about the views of men wiser and more careful than myself, so I will not say anything more than this: Dolezal is lucid formidable. Debunking (let alone, disregarding) his arguments here will not be easy. I’m interested to see what sort of responses this will generate in the years ahead. All in all, this is a great work and should be read and discussed by many.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Kendall Davis

    Probably no better introduction to contemporary classical theism.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Joel Zartman

    James Dolezal is a Baptist theologian who has already published a book on the difficult subject of Divine simplicity. This is his second book. His subject is a contemporary theological phenomenon he calls theistic mutualism. The book is a kind of sequel to the book on simplicity. “The chief problem I address in this work is the abandonment of God’s simplicity and of the infinite pure actuality of His being.” Dolezal’s object is to define theistic mutualism, show how it is different from the doct James Dolezal is a Baptist theologian who has already published a book on the difficult subject of Divine simplicity. This is his second book. His subject is a contemporary theological phenomenon he calls theistic mutualism. The book is a kind of sequel to the book on simplicity. “The chief problem I address in this work is the abandonment of God’s simplicity and of the infinite pure actuality of His being.” Dolezal’s object is to define theistic mutualism, show how it is different from the doctrine of God confessed throughout the ages by the church, how it is actually opposed to said doctrine, and why, therefore, it ought to be rejected. Theistic mutualism is related to process theology and open theism. Unlike these, it affirms that God is simple, unchanging, eternal and one in substance. What theistic mutualism then does, however, is affirm that while God remains unchanged by external causes, he can nevertheless will change in himself in relation to his creatures. Theistic mutualists believe there is a mutuality between the creation and the Creator, a back and forth—hence the designation Dolezal coins. They want to have the changing, responsive God of process thought without the theological problems. What Dolezal does is show that this is substandard theology. “Unfortunately this sort of confusion with respect to the language of being abounds in the God-talk of many modern evangelicals,” he says on page 66 and note 7. I suspect he uses the hideous term “God-talk” advisedly. What modern evangelicals? John Feinberg, Kevin Vanhoozer, D.A. Carson, John Frame, William Lane Craig, J.P. Moreland, Alvin Plantinga, Donald Macleod, Scott K. Oliphint, Wayne Grudem and of course B.Ware. (That’s a lot! The remaining evangelical scholars are used to support his argument by being quoted positively, so the book is balanced in that aspect. All joking aside, it is worth saying that his support is catholic in the best sense of the term, not just evangelical.) Ware gets the most attention, and Eternal Functional Subordination makes it into the book, but only at the end. Dolezal mostly steers clear of that controversy with canny citations of material published prior to the debate, but this argument is the next logical step in that confrontation. Dolezal is far more concerned with Ware’s polemics against open theism. These, he argues, concede too much to the open theists, confirming the old warning about how we can become like our enemies. The most interesting chapter is the one in which Dolezal inquires how this came about. He suggests that theistic mutualism arose in the 18th century when the full range of Aristotelian causality became uninteresting or implausible due to the philosophical climate of opinion. David Hume + Immanuel Kant = Enlightenment = Junk Philosophy = Junk Theology (Dolezal manages it more grandly than I; he’s more of a historian than systematic theologians tend to be). If final and formal causality are no longer considered useful, who needs an unmoved mover? He then traces the erosion of classic theism through some very interesting places. It runs through Charles Hodge and R.L. Dabney. The question is, how did we get to a point where so many orthodox theologians can do such bad theology? The answer Dolezal sketches out is that it happened gradually over the last 300 years. Dolezal, as I have already indicated, defines and defends the classic formulations of the doctrine of Divine simplicity, eternity, immutability, and the unity of the Godhead. He argues that these need no change and ought not to be changed. He is good at getting to the heart of difficult matters such as these are and making the point clear. The book is worth it just for the lucid (and catholically supported) explanations of these doctrines. Theistic mutualists, he demonstrates, end up denying outright or misunderstanding and therefore jeopardizing these crucial doctrines. The result of the misunderstanding is that they do not use them for their intended purposes, and instead of denying, affirm, or instead of affirming, deny. The result, in short, is denying the God that the church has always confessed. The statement theistic mutualism cannot get around is his title: All that is in God is God. If you believe that statement is true and your theological gurus have been mentioned above, read this book. If you don’t know what that statement means, consider reading this book. Dolezal’s aim is to show how alarming the ignorance of correct doctrinal formulation in contemporary evangelicalism now is. It needs to be exposed, it needs to be considered carefully, and it needs to be rejected. This book is a calm, reasoned, researched, readable and in no ways acrimonious statement of a problem that cannot be left alone anymore. If you don’t want to take my work for it, take Richard Muller’s. It’s the foreword. Complaint: I heartily wish Dolezal was less given to using the inane phrase “the reason is because.” So much does he enjoy it that he actually finds a translation of Turretin where the great theologian is reduced to that turn of phrase. Dolezal sometimes uses borderline archaisms such as “suffice it to say” in his prose. One can’t complain about that, however. Suffice it to say, he actually talks that way. To what could this be owing? I think he is monotonously steeped in theological discourse to the exclusion of any other. And for what he’s doing, he needs to be.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Gary

    This really is one of those books that ought to be read by every minister. There are better books at presenting Divine Simplicity (Hanlon's Simply God, for example), but this book is an alarm call to the Reformed and Evangelical world to arrest the drift away from classical theism in our midst. What is being presented sounds exciting, dynamic, more personal, and comprehendible; but it will rob us of the Godness of God, and... Divine simplicity also helps counter the error of social trinitarianism This really is one of those books that ought to be read by every minister. There are better books at presenting Divine Simplicity (Hanlon's Simply God, for example), but this book is an alarm call to the Reformed and Evangelical world to arrest the drift away from classical theism in our midst. What is being presented sounds exciting, dynamic, more personal, and comprehendible; but it will rob us of the Godness of God, and... Divine simplicity also helps counter the error of social trinitarianism, and the author shows (briefly) how. Loved it.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jason Garwood

    TREMENDOUS book!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jimmy

    Are you looking for a book that looks at the doctrines of God in regards to the absoluteness of His being? This book is helpful and the author James Dolezal has done a great service writing this for the church today, especially since some of the attributes of God that have been denied, downplayed and dangerously modified. Dolezal also managed to present a biblical and historical view on God and answers contemporary objections of some of the hardest attributes of God, within the short space of 17 Are you looking for a book that looks at the doctrines of God in regards to the absoluteness of His being? This book is helpful and the author James Dolezal has done a great service writing this for the church today, especially since some of the attributes of God that have been denied, downplayed and dangerously modified. Dolezal also managed to present a biblical and historical view on God and answers contemporary objections of some of the hardest attributes of God, within the short space of 176 pages! Yet thin as it was this book took me three months to finish as I was slowly working through it carefully and reflectively. Besides the foreword, preface and conclusion this book consists of six chapters. Chapter one presents to the readers two conflicting models of Theism and one which he identified as unhistorical as “Theistic Mutualism.” The next chapter then looks at God being unchanging while chapter three is on the Divine Simplicity of God. Chapter four is titled “Simple God Lost” which tracks how theologians have strayed from the Doctrine of Divine Simplicity and chapter five then look at God as eternal Creator. Chapter six is titled “one God, Three Persons” which talks about the Trinity in light of the other attributes of God. Each chapters was challenging and meaty in its own right; I learned quite a bit from this book. I really enjoyed his discussion about the doctrine of God’s divine simplicity the most. The author’s doctoral dissertation was actually on Divine Simplicity and the book really did a good job articulating this doctrine as well as how this doctrine relates to the other attributes of God, and handling the objections against it. In particular I enjoyed the book’s discussion about whether or not divine simplicity would undermine the doctrine of Divine Simplicity. Instead the book will show the readers how the doctrine of Divine Simplicity is essential to the doctrine of the Trinity lest we fall into the error of Tritheism and other heresies that denies the Trinity. I found this book easier to understand than his dissertation. I also enjoyed the discussion about the immutability of God and I also found the discussion about God as Eternal Creator to have been quite nuanced. At times the book gets a bit philosophical but even in the midst of Dolezal is not doing so for the sake of vain speculation but to know God as He has presented Himself, including preserving God in His mystery even as He has revealed Himself. To say it another way I appreciate him trying to articulate what the Bible has to say about God while not trying to rationalize away what the Bible has to say about God in a way that would make us think we know everything abuot God; rather there is a biblical space of awe, wonder and worship when it comes to the mysteries of God. Good book, it was intellectually stimulating and also worship provoking.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Scott Hunt

    This was a fantastic and extremely helpful read. Dolezal does a wonderful job of taking a complex subject and condensing it down for an easy to understand work. Every Christian should read this book and then read it again!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Christopher

    "The Christian who believes that God experiences a change of any sort is no longer able to say with the older theologians, "All that is in God is God". - p. xiv This seems to be the central assertion that Dolezal makes in his book entitled "All that is in God". As a statement of classical Christian theism, the book is excellent and I have no significant disagreement with what Dolezal teaches about divine simplicity (God is without body, parts, or passions), asiety (God is the self-existent, self "The Christian who believes that God experiences a change of any sort is no longer able to say with the older theologians, "All that is in God is God". - p. xiv This seems to be the central assertion that Dolezal makes in his book entitled "All that is in God". As a statement of classical Christian theism, the book is excellent and I have no significant disagreement with what Dolezal teaches about divine simplicity (God is without body, parts, or passions), asiety (God is the self-existent, self-sufficient One), immutability (God in His essence does not change), impassibility (God in His essence does not suffer), pure actuality (that God is simultaneously all that He can be, infinitely real and infinitely perfect), eternal (God is in His essence outside of time), and Triune (unified in substance as three distinct persons). All of these things are things we must confess if we are to be orthodox Christians. No dispute there. My main concern (and the place where I think that further exploration is needed and was severely lacking on the part of Dolezal) surrounds the issue of how God can be all of the above and also enter into personal, covenantal relationship with His creation and individual human beings in space and time without in some sense experiencing change, temporality, and emotion in relation to His creation. That God does personally relate to mankind in these experiences is the overwhelming testimony of the Scripture. But how? Dolezal, citing Bavinck, say that this is purely anthropomorphic: "Scripture does not contain a few scattered anthropomorphisms, but is anthropomorphic through and through" (p. 20). But is anthropomorphism really a comprehensive way of describing how God relates to us? Is the whole of God's personal dealings with man merely a massive charade, an ornate mask behind which lies the real God? Some of those whom Dolezal criticizes have attempted to approach the issue by distinguishing between those attributes which are "essential" in God and other attributes, characteristics, and properties which are a not essential to God but proceed from His essential attributes and exist as a product of His relationship to creation. Dolezal quotes K. Scott Oliphint in his book God With Us, "God freely determined to take on attributes, characteristics, and properties that he did not have, and would not have without creation. In taking on these characteristics, we understand as well that whatever characteristics he takes on, they cannot be of the essence of who he is, nor can they be necessary to his essential identity as God" that just as God in the incarnation "takes on temporal properties without in any way ceasing to be essentially eternal" so God does in His covenanting and redeeming dealings with all of His creation in history (pp. 94-97). One of Dolezal's criticisms of those who take this view is "they have lost sight of what "being" means. They mistakenly assume that "being" indicates merely "nature" or "essence"." According to Dolezal, being "denotes any actuality or "is-ness" whatsoever, that is, any participation in the act of existing". Dolezal's highly nuanced definition of "being" seems inexplicably beholden to medieval philosophers, Thomas Aquinas, and the scholastics. If this definition of being is accepted a priori, one can understand why Dolezal would view the distinctions between essential attributes of God and those derived from His dealings with His creation as an impossibility. But this, to me, seems entirely contrived. Dolezal lumps together a broad swath of theologians into the category of "theistic mutualism" defined as a "symbiotic relationship [between God and man] in which both parties derive something from the other. In such a relation, it is requisite that each party be capable of being ontologically moved or acted upon and thus determined by the other. This does not necessarily require parity between the parties involved. Accordingly, mutualistic relation could obtain even if only one of the parties involved were architect and ultimate regulator of the relation." Dolezal's broadbrushing of those who confess, along with he, the orthodox faith in regard to God's essential being, is one of the worst things about this book. While Dolezal is willing to distinguish between "hard" and "soft" forms of theistic mutualism, he nevertheless lumps into that category several who don't seem to fit nicely into that definition, especially as it speaks of God as having a "symbiotic" relationship with His creation in an ultimate sense. Those whom he describes as "soft mutualists" are generally careful to distinguish between who God is in His essence and who God is in His immanence as He relates to creation, most appear willing to confess with the classical theists all of the things which Dolezal accuses them of denying (divine simplicity, asiety, immutability, impassibility, etc.). Of course, this seems to be because Dolezal rules out a priori the possibility of distinguishing between essential and derivative attributes of God due to his prior commitment to scholasticism in the tradition of Aquinas. Dolezal insists with the scholastics that all of God's attributes are identical with His essence and because of this he is not willing to interact with any biblical argument indicating otherwise except to show how it doesn't fit into his philosophical system. Dolezal is confessional and orthodox in his statements regarding the doctrine of God, that is what is best about his book. But its greatest failing seems to me to be the lack of interaction with biblical texts on this issue of God's condescension as it relates to divine simplicity, immutability, impassibility, etc. and the paradoxical nature of God's transcendence and immanence in redemptive history. Indeed, the central promise of the whole Bible and of the Christian gospel is the "Immanuel Principle" fulfilled in Christ, that God will be with us, that He will be our God and we will be His people and He will dwell in our midst. God's self-revelation in Scripture climaxes with the fulfillment of this central promise in the new heavens and the new earth, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them" (Revelation 21:3). To take our eyes off of this pivotal hope and reality of God's condescension to us is to fail to be gospel centered, to fail to do as Paul did and know nothing except Christ and him crucified. It is undoubtedly important that we have a consistent and biblical definition of who God is, but to do this without reference to the principle upon which the whole of God's revelation to man in Scripture turns seems at best ill-advised, at worst actually unbiblical in terms of emphasis. Calvin's concern in his Institutes of the Christian Religion regarding those who inquire into the essence of God without reference to who He is in relation to us is apropos: "Those, therefore, who, in considering this question, propose to inquire what the essence of God is, only delude us with frigid speculations,—it being much more our interest to know what kind of being God is, and what things are agreeable to his nature. For, of what use is it to join Epicures in acknowledging some God who has cast off the care of the world, and only delights himself in ease? What avails it, in short, to know a God with whom we have nothing to do?" (Institutes 1.2.2).

  12. 5 out of 5

    Shawn Paterson

    Really helpful. A good introduction, of sorts, to the topic and debate.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Zach Barnhart

    An instant classic. For anyone who wants a serious theological dive into the topics of classical theism, this is the book I'm suggesting first. An instant classic. For anyone who wants a serious theological dive into the topics of classical theism, this is the book I'm suggesting first.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jordan B Cooper

    The best accessible treatment of the subject. All theology students should read this.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Sean McGowan

    A strong defense of classical Christian theism that interacts with some big names in the Reformed world that hold a different view in some aspects of theology proper. This book is very informative.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jethro Wall

    In short, this book is about the doctrine of the simplicity of God, which basically means that God isn’t made up of parts but everything that is in God simply is God. For example, all of His attributes (love, holiness, justice, etc.) are all as equally ‘God’ as the others. I realised getting this right is actually quite important, as it certainly has implications on the way we think and talk about God. This book sought to correct some of the modern theology that has swayed from this historical v In short, this book is about the doctrine of the simplicity of God, which basically means that God isn’t made up of parts but everything that is in God simply is God. For example, all of His attributes (love, holiness, justice, etc.) are all as equally ‘God’ as the others. I realised getting this right is actually quite important, as it certainly has implications on the way we think and talk about God. This book sought to correct some of the modern theology that has swayed from this historical view. Apart from this important refresher on simplicity, I didn’t overly enjoy the book. It was ridiculously academic and dense, so it was an absolute TRUDGE to get through. I also have a few qualms with overly academic and philosophical stuff… I’m just aware of the danger of ‘over intellectualising’ things that our silly little mortal brains shouldn’t. It was too finicky and nit-picky for my liking. At the same time, I don’t know much when it comes to this stuff. Some food for thought at least. “Without simplicity, God must be dependent on something other than His divinity for some aspects of His being, and thus He cannot be a se and independent.”

  17. 4 out of 5

    Tara

    Mind blown. I surely did not comprehend all of the arguments presented, as I am new to reading/thinking in the philosophical realm, but I can confidently say that my understanding of the Godhead is expanded and enlightened because of this book. Dolezal's work on the simplicity of God may be my next read. Mind blown. I surely did not comprehend all of the arguments presented, as I am new to reading/thinking in the philosophical realm, but I can confidently say that my understanding of the Godhead is expanded and enlightened because of this book. Dolezal's work on the simplicity of God may be my next read.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Daniel Henderson

    Amazing. So good. Groundbreaking.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Gwilym Davies

    The good? A simple and clear outline of some of the key scholastic categories. When you compare Dolezal to some of the other recent attempts to popularize Thomas' doctrine of God, he's extraordinarily easy-going. And of course, on lots of what he's saying, he's right. The bad? Leaving aside whether the premises are right, I'm not really sure about the execution. This felt like argument by shibboleth: immutability, simplicity, infinity and aseity are absolute, and any hint of a deviation from a sc The good? A simple and clear outline of some of the key scholastic categories. When you compare Dolezal to some of the other recent attempts to popularize Thomas' doctrine of God, he's extraordinarily easy-going. And of course, on lots of what he's saying, he's right. The bad? Leaving aside whether the premises are right, I'm not really sure about the execution. This felt like argument by shibboleth: immutability, simplicity, infinity and aseity are absolute, and any hint of a deviation from a scholastic exposition of them is heresy. Fine. But there was no real attempt on Dolezal's part to answer the questions that Dolezal's theistic-mutualist bogeymen were actually trying to answer: how do you describe God's activity in time? Granted that all our God-talk is necessarily creaturely and anthropomorphic, how do you justice to the way that the Bible actually encourages us to talk about God without labelling it 'improper'? I'm sure some of their answers are inadequate. I'm sure some of their answers are plain wrong. And yet... Reading it with Bavinck open beside me, this felt very one-sided: the great Dutchman was willing to nuance or to qualify where Dolezal really didn't. As it was, Dolezal went straight from some positive statements we ought to believe about immutability or simplicity to a witch-hunt of process theologians (good - hunt away) and theistic mutualists who he suspects of denying them, without any real sense of how he might go about integrating those statements into a bigger doctrinal whole. Or maybe he genuinely thinks that 'God is simple, immutable, infinite and independent' is a sufficient confession of the Christian faith? As I said, argument by shibboleth: Dolezal seemed to studiously avoid answering all the really difficult questions himself - hiding behind the term 'anthropomorphic' and the word 'appears' - and that freed him up to go wild sniffing out the slightest hint of deviation from a very disconnected exposition of the doctrine of God. And then there's the premise: maybe it's because I'm such a hopeless Biblicist, but are we really sure that an Aristotelian metaphysic is a better description of God than the one he's given of himself? Are we really confident that we can get past talking about God as temporal, mutable, complex creatures are bound to do? Dolezal thinks it's improper to speak of God experiencing creation. Maybe so. I'm just glad he hears my prayers. And so whilst I might demur at one or two points, and whilst I'm far from thinking that the Doctrine of God is a perfect book, and whilst I know there's more to say (and others have had a go at saying it) I'm just going to leave this here: https://frame-poythress.org/scholasti...

  20. 5 out of 5

    Isaac Jones

    James Dolezal did a fantastic job describing the need for classical theism over and against theistic mutualism. He showed the necessity of a God that is simple in being, not made up of complex parts for, "Without simplicity, God must be dependent on something other than His divinity for some aspects of His being." If we cannot speak of God in this way, if we cannot say He is eternally loving, gracious, wrathful or merciful, then He ceases to be God and worthy of our worship. It also gives the Ch James Dolezal did a fantastic job describing the need for classical theism over and against theistic mutualism. He showed the necessity of a God that is simple in being, not made up of complex parts for, "Without simplicity, God must be dependent on something other than His divinity for some aspects of His being." If we cannot speak of God in this way, if we cannot say He is eternally loving, gracious, wrathful or merciful, then He ceases to be God and worthy of our worship. It also gives the Christian the surest foundation for hope, because our God is a God who is unchanging, we can trust that what He says about who He is and what He has done for us is completely true because it is based in His eternal divinity. A beautiful book that extols the depths and riches of the eternal, unchanging, immovable, simple God.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Brian

    I have an earlier review of this book, but I can't find it anymore; I think my kindle messes with my goodreads account. Anyway, I have read this book again for the third time. So important, and so fun. Obviously, it doesn't lock all the biblicist doors, but for that I'm going to be exploring John Owen. Most Christians who are respectful of defining terms like "the Trinity" as their forefathers in the faith defined them will like this book and fall in line. Already, the Reformation Study Bible has I have an earlier review of this book, but I can't find it anymore; I think my kindle messes with my goodreads account. Anyway, I have read this book again for the third time. So important, and so fun. Obviously, it doesn't lock all the biblicist doors, but for that I'm going to be exploring John Owen. Most Christians who are respectful of defining terms like "the Trinity" as their forefathers in the faith defined them will like this book and fall in line. Already, the Reformation Study Bible has taken out the heretical gloss on the Trinity as three centers of consciousness in new editions; I think Dolezal's won the battle. Good.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Scott

    Spectacular book defending classical Christian theism. While I sometimes think that Dolezal bypasses certain articulations of alternative positions (e.g. holding actus purus while also holding to some type of dispositions in God), the overall thrust of his argument is sound. The strength here lies in synthesizing some of the best work lately on retrieving classical theism but for a more popular level audience.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Bo Evans

    A great defense of classical Christian theism, and a great rebuttal to newer forms of theistic mutualism that is the more popular viewpoint in most churches today. Dolezal defends the classical attributes of God’s simplicity, immutability, eternity, and presents the Christian God as the eternal plentiful absolute of divine being. God’s is not moved to love us, He simply loves us eternally in the fullness of his deity because that is who He is by nature. Love it!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Matt Pitts

    Quite challenging but also quite helpful. I had never thought hard about the doctrine of divine simplicity. This book helped me to do so and to see why it matters. I did not agree with the author at every point, but on the whole he has done us a great service by writing this book.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Gabie Peacock

    Excellent read on essential matters of the doctrine of God. I have been blessed to see James Dolezal speak at a conference and I was pleasantly surprised how he was able to explain complex doctrines on a level that the average Christian layman can grasp and consider. He skillfully does the same in this book. Highly recommend this book, every Christian should read it!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Troy Nevitt

    Excellent read on the importance of the classical attributes of God. All the doctrines run together to which one, by Dolezal's account, are all the same, as God is simple and without parts. Excellent read on the importance of the classical attributes of God. All the doctrines run together to which one, by Dolezal's account, are all the same, as God is simple and without parts.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Thaddeus

    Excellent book on Divine Simplicity!!! Highly recommended.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Caleb Abraham

    A pleasant and incisive introduction to divine simplicity. I am astonished at how clearly Dolezal manages to explain classic theism, as well as its objectors.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Ben Hartman

    Super important book about recent challenges to, and denials of, classical theism and divine simplicity.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jeffrey Brannen

    Conflict between Confessionalists and Biblicists Over the past two years, debate between Confessionalists and Biblicists has gone back and forth regarding the position argued by Biblicists over the eternal submission of the Son to the Father. As has become clear, the Biblicists reject the normative value of creeds and confessions when it comes to the doctrine of God. James Dolezal widens the scope of the debate from a question if authority and submission to a larger issue: what kind of God do we Conflict between Confessionalists and Biblicists Over the past two years, debate between Confessionalists and Biblicists has gone back and forth regarding the position argued by Biblicists over the eternal submission of the Son to the Father. As has become clear, the Biblicists reject the normative value of creeds and confessions when it comes to the doctrine of God. James Dolezal widens the scope of the debate from a question if authority and submission to a larger issue: what kind of God do we worship? The Biblicists answer, ignoring/rejecting the historic confessions of the Church, is dangerously inadequate. In short, without the confessional safeguards, specifically the belief in God's simplicity, the center cannot hold. While it is not the purpose of the Biblicists to undermine the Church's historical teaching on the nature of God, they have made some massive mistakes. The book is concise and well-organized. While dealing with a complex subject, it should be accessible to most pastors and concerned laymen. Probably as a result of its compact nature (150 pages) it does not flesh out all the nuances of opinion between the evangelical supporters of divine mutability. In the seriously erring category, based on this work, I believe the author is convinced that Bruce Ware and Rob Lister are most problematic. Following them is John Frame. Beyond those three, the work implies that there are quite a few modern theologians who have absorbed the mindset, but who have not chased the rabbit out of the fence. Worth your time, even if John Frame doesn't like it.

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