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The doctrine of divine simplicity (DDS) affirms the oneness of God. He is simple, meaning that he is one Lord who is spiritual—without body and parts. The doctrine of divine simplicity historically had a wide-acceptance among all Christians. Today, that acceptance has waned, and many question the doctrine’s coherence, biblical pedigree, and relevance. 

This is why The Lord Is One is a welcome publication. It retrieves and reconsiders this historic and biblical doctrine. At the very least, this multi-author work contributes to an ongoing discussion among Protestants about DDS.

Overall, the work successfully articulates the biblical, historical, and philosophical stakes of DDS. And it interestingly attempts not only to retrieve but to advance the discussion on DDS. This can be seen most clearly in Joseph Minich’s concluding essay. Minich attempts to give a way forward through the impasse that has held down the various positions on DDS. 

The Lord Is One: Reclaiming Divine Simplicity
Joseph Minich and Onsi A. Kamel, eds.
The Lord Is One: Reclaiming Divine Simplicity
Joseph Minich and Onsi A. Kamel, eds.
Davenant Press. 286.

While I mostly appreciated The Lord Is One, I wish that it had focused more directly on retrieval of simplicity from earlier theologians. Since the doctrine of DDS has lost its dominance today, much work needs to be done to show the various ways in which Christians have defined and used simplicity both for dogmatic reflection and spiritual pursuit (e.g., chapters on Gregory of Nyssa or the other Cappocians could have added much value). 

Davenant Press. 286.

While I mostly appreciated The Lord Is One, I wish that it had focused more directly on retrieval of simplicity from earlier theologians. Since the doctrine of DDS has lost its dominance today, much work needs to be done to show the various ways in which Christians have defined and used simplicity both for dogmatic reflection and spiritual pursuit (e.g., chapters on Gregory of Nyssa or the other Cappocians could have added much value). 

In the history of the church, DDS has played a key role in spirituality. Yet this important emphasis of DDS didn’t appear—at least with particular weight—in the volume. Yet the fathers who first articulated DDS understood DDS not merely as a dogmatic account of God’s nature but also as a fitting and dignified way to conceive of God in our ascent to him.

Still, the chapters on Athanasius, Girolami Zanchi, John Calvin, Thomas Aquinas and Duns Scotus gave enough theological retrieval to whet the appetite. Perhaps a fuller theological meal would have prepared readers better for the dessert offered in the last few chapters—since they dive into the dense philosophical discussions. 

Even with that said, pastors, theological students, and academics alike may benefit from this volume. I recommend it, albeit with the caveat that I gave above. 

 


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