All that is in God (Dolezal)

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 is 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 were not identical to the divine essence, then those attributes would constitute God.  That means God would be God by virtue of something which itself is not God.  That means God would get actuality from something that is not 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 is 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 will 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 counter-intuitive.  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.

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