None Greater: Introduction

April 25, 2020

This book is different than other books I have read on the attributes of God, and Matthew Barrett does a good job getting my attention with one of his opening quotes in the Introduction:

The transcendent, majestic, awesome God of Luther and Calvin...has undergone a softening of demeanor (1)

Here are some other assorted thoughts:

  • I haven't yet read Augustine's Confessions. Have you? Have you done any reading from the other greats that he mentioned?
  • It has been a while since I have read such lofty, deep descriptions of God (6). It is overdue!
  • "Surprised by God" (7) causes me to think of C.S. Lewis' title, Surprised by Joy. It is a beautiful phrase - surprised by God. I hope we all have these moments from time to time.
  • I love that Barrett sees Anselm as asking questions that no one else was asking (8). I hope I always read authors that make me think like this.
  • This is the first time I remember reading the word "aseity." I wonder if this is is an older term? Or, maybe it is just because I haven't read broadly on this topic.
aseity (Lat. aseitas, from [ens] a se, ‘being from itself’). The quality in virtue of which a being exists of and from itself alone. Acc. to Christian teaching, it is realized solely in God and distinguishes Him from all created beings, whose existence, as it issues ultimately from Him, is derivative from something outside itself (ens ab alio). F. L. Cross and Elizabeth A. Livingstone, eds., The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2005), 115.
  • Matthew says, "No one ever introduced God to me as the perfect being" (8). I wasn't sure what to think of this. Perhaps it was just honesty. But I was a little surprised by that. Yet, there are strengths and weaknesses to all our spiritual developments. Matthew reveals a knowledge of the Church Fathers that I wasn't given in my training, and something I wish I was given.
  • Great thought about how we think about God from the "bottom up" when we need to think of it more than that (8-10). I am not sure how "dangerous" this is as Barrett mentions. It seems that it is always going to be a part of our thinking. However, I do think it is very important to strive to think as he presents - starting from the "top."
  • When Matthew mentions that there are attributes "central to who God is yet never talked about within the doors of the church," I am skeptical (11). I guess we'll see. I do appreciate his following paragraph presenting how modern thinking has sought to domesticate God.
  • Love this quote from Augustine: "You have made us for yourself, and our heart is restless until it rests in you" (14).

In conclusion, one prevailing thought that comes to mind which I have shared with people for years yet this chapter gives new life to is, we will never be bored with God in eternity. We will never be able to know him fully. There will always be deeper delight and more thrilling discovery of God himself.

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