Book Review: The Concept of God – By Ronald H. Nash

 

809930Letter The Christian doctrine of God has throughout history been subject to incredible debate and controversy, specifically as regards his attributes. Within the past few centuries it has become increasingly common to question the coherence of the Christian view of God, with two of the most recent adversaries being those who believe that the Christian view of God (or any God) must be abandoned altogether (atheists) and those who wish to keep a view of God but wish to alter it dramatically (the Process theologians).

In The Concept of God Ronald Nash aims on the one hand to defeat the argument that theism is incoherent in itself, and on the other to address what road to take within theism. The two most visible alternatives are between Thomistic theism and Process theology, yet Nash desires to make it clear that this is not a mutually exclusive relationship.

Throughout the course of the text Nash analyzes six different attributes of God – omnipotence, omniscience, eternity, simplicity, immutability and necessity – in order to show that it is possible to create a coherent system between these and to create one that neither falls into Process theology nor is forced to be content with Thomism.RonNash

While Nash spends much time quoting other writers, the strength of this book is that it attempts not to leave any critique or option unaddressed. Furthermore, Nash is upfront in terms of his own thoughts on the matter, and when he is unsure of the absolute conclusion he lets the reader know.

All in all The Concept of God is not only a great discussion on six of the attributes of God and the doctrine of God overall, but it is also a great view into how the doctrine has developed throughout history and as well as the current trends in thought, which is where Nash’s liberal use of quotations comes in.

Memorable Quotes:

-“The conflict between Thomistic theism and Process theology s basically a revival of the struggle between competing schools of Greek philosophy, one emphasizing being, the other stressing the dominance of becoming.”(p31)

-“Since any sound argument or refutation must begin by presupposing certain rules, it is impossible to argue against someone who rejects the most basic rules of reasoning.”(p39)

-“Whatever God’s relation to the laws of logic may be, it is clear that all human thinking and communication must presuppose the law of non-contradiction… A supralogical God is a God about whom nothing can be said or known. Moreover, a supralogical God would introduce devastating implications into any religion promoting such a concept. If God can do self-contradictory acts, then there is no inconsistency in His promising eternal life to all who trust in Christ but actually condemning to everlasting damnation all who trust in Christ.”(p40)

-“So long as changes occur only in God’s intentional order (that is, in God’s consciousness), His immutability is not compromised.”(p102)

Specific Criticisms

All in all, I don’t have any criticisms of this book. I think the author could be a little more clear as to when he is giving the opponent’s position and when he is giving his own, but this is only minor.

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