Book Write-Up: The Lord Is Good, by Christopher R.J. Holmes

Christopher R.J. Holmes.  The Lord Is Good: Seeking the God of the Psalter.  IVP Academic, 2018.  See here to purchase the book.

Christopher Holmes is an Anglican priest and teaches systematic theology at the University of Otago in New Zealand.  In The Lord Is Good: Seeking the God of the Psalter, Holmes explores themes in the biblical Psalms, primarily through the lens of Thomas Aquinas.  While Aquinas and Thomism are paramount in this book, Holmes occasionally engages other conversation partners, such as Augustine, John Calvin, and Karl Barth.

Among the themes that Holmes explores are:

—-that God’s attributes, including God’s goodness, are not accidental to God but are part of God’s essence, apart even from any actions that God might perform; this is God’s simplicity;

—-that human goodness is imperfect and derivative from God’s goodness;

—-the divinization of human beings, as they share more of God’s goodness and immortality, while remaining distinct from God in certain respects (i.e., they do not become part of the Trinity);

—-God’s plan to fill all beings and things in the eschaton, and how the eschaton will be a time when humans will lack self-consciousness;

—-how God’s statutes remind humans of their creaturehood and help convert them towards righteousness; how this functions for David (who had the ceremonial law) differs in some respects from how it works for Christians (who have only the moral law), but there are also similarities between the two; Christ is still necessary for salvation and righteousness, however;

—-the difference between knowing and seeing, seeing by faith, and how the beatific vision will be expanded in the eschaton;

—–that God only recognizes what is like Godself, namely, what is good; still, God acknowledges when people call out to God for instruction;

—-how evil, in a sense, is non-existent, as it is parasitic of the good and less real.

Some of these themes are repeated in the course of the book, and people who are well-read in theology may feel that these themes are rather simple.  There are times when the book appears simple, but there are also times when it is quite deep.  I cannot say that I completely understood Holmes’ critique of Barth, but it is there for my perusal.  The book is eloquent, yet it has a down-to-earth quality, as Holmes occasionally brings himself into the picture.  Reading the book can be an act of worship, as it can encourage and enhance Christians’ appreciation of God’s goodness and the beings and things that reflect and point to that.  Moreover, with all the books out there that tear apart Thomism in favor of Barthian Christocentrism, it is refreshing to read a book that appreciates Thomism, while still acknowledging the importance of Jesus Christ.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher.  My review is honest.

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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