Book Write-Up: God in Himself, by Steven J. Duby

Steven J. Duby. God in Himself: Scripture, Metaphysics, and the Task of Christian Theology. IVP Academic, 2019.  See here to purchase the book.

Steven J. Duby teaches theology at Grand Canyon University.

This book is about divine revelation. There are natural theology and general revelation: the idea that nature reveals God, and people can figure things out about God by looking at nature. Theologian Karl Barth did not care for natural theology that much. For him, that contradicted divine grace by making theology a matter of people climbing to God through their human reason. Plus, Barth saw abuses of natural theology, such as the Nazis drawing theological conclusions based on their racist understanding of nature. Barth located divine revelation in two foci: the incarnation of God in Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit illuminating the Bible (which testifies to Jesus) for people. Here, God takes the initiative, and revelation is about what God does.

There is also the challenge of knowing God as God is in himself. If God is beyond comprehension, does the divine revelation that we receive of God give us an accurate knowledge of God as God is.

These are among the issues that Duby tackles. Other issues include: Can we speak metaphysically about God, or does that place God among other created objects, which is a no-no? And there are places in which Duby engages ideas that might strike some people as hairy: the need to avoid two Gods or Christs, for example. Or the idea that God cannot be divorced from God’s activity in history. You can read the book to see what that is all about.

If a Christian layperson were to ask me what this book is about, I wonder what I would tell him or her. A Christian layperson would probably wonder what all of the fuss is about and have a common sense approach: yes, God reveals Godself through nature, including the human sense of morality, but that is not sufficient. To get a fuller picture of what God is like and what God’s plans are, one needs more, including the incarnation and illumination from the Holy Spirit. Yes, we see what God is like by God’s activity in history, but that does not mean that God does not exist apart from that divine activity in history. Duby essentially draws common sense sorts of conclusions, even as he draws from Scripture and historic theologians and engages the intricacies of theological argument.

Reading this book…well, how can I describe that? As I read it in a breezy manner, I got a lot of what Duby was saying. Duby usually does an effective job in summarizing what he is trying to say after a detailed, intricate discussion. There were parts of the book that were too deep for me, and they would merit a closer reading.

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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