None greater. Those words are a simple, yet accurate, description of God. Personally, I have found that the more I know God the more I remain in awe of Him. I fear that most professing Christians spend more time domesticating God, making Him in their image rather than allowing themselves to be transformed into the image of God. Matthew Barrett though, reminds us that God cannot be domesticated in None Greater: The Undomesticated Attributes of God.
Admittedly, the title can be a bit off-putting as one wrestles with the concept of the ‘undomesticated’ attributes of God. Just a few pages into the book and one will quickly realize what the author is indicating by that phrase and should be in agreement that while God cannot be fully comprehended, he can be apprehended. Because of this point, Barrett writes a book directed towards all Christians in an attempt to restore solid theology proper into the houses of everyday people. As a result, this book is not written in scholastic form with hard to grasp terminology. Even when dealing with difficult concepts, that may force readers to pause and think more intentionally, Barrett writes clearly and simply for all to understand.
As far as content, one will not find the topics a surprise as the author covers typical aspects of who God is (including his incomprehensibility, infiniteness, aseity, simplicity, immutability, impassability, timelessness, jealousy, glory, etc.). One will note that the author relies heavily on Augustine, Anselm, and Aquinas (the ‘A’ team as he calls them). This does not mean that he has supplanted Scripture as the book is filled heavily and rightly with that, but only that those men brought clarity to God’s traits to him and he simply wants to bring forth that enlightenment to an era that struggles to understand who God is. Readers might ask, “Why not read a systematic theology book?” or “Why not go back to Augustine, Anselm, and Aquinas and read them directly?” Those are valid questions and I would offer four reasons:
- Unity: One of the great advantages of this book is that the author does not merely deal with each characteristic individually. Instead, the order of the book is important because he builds from previous chapters and explains why each attribute is not only important to God’s character but how they impact one another.
- Priority: Additionally, Barrett is able to show why God’s attributes are important for His people. In indirect ways, he inserts practical applications and responses that are beyond what many people would expect or consider.
- Simplicity: The author does not try to impress with mighty words. He simply explains the character of God. Frequently, he will introduce concepts that many of us have never heard of and do not know. But he never assumes that readers already know, but instead he explains them. When one considers that the actual text of the book is roughly 250 pages, the reader will be astounded at how much information is contained within its pages.
- Biblicity: Finally, he relies heavily on Scripture. While he certainly does look to and quote three men from Christianity’s past, we cannot argue that these men were not fallible and in fact had some unbiblical beliefs (although if you read them, you will see how they continuously refined their beliefs as they great older, wiser, and in their knowledge of the Lord). Therefore, Matthew Barrett writes a book that is biblical.
Christian readers will be surprised at just how much they did not remember or never learned while reading this book.
It has been quite some time since I have learned so much from one book. Admittedly, I found myself needing to review quickly in order to write this review and am now starting over again to read more deeply (as in it has taken me about three weeks to get through the first four chapters). Because I may have overlooked something in that initial review, I will not give a blanket approval to the book, but instead caution to read diligently (as you always should). However, I have yet to find anything that would cause me major concern.
Recommendation: Permit me to make a recommendation. If you want to really be challenged to learn and think through the attributes of God, read this book alongside of James Buswell’s Systematic Theology (particularly volume one) which you can learn more about by clicking here. The book can be hard to find and is not very known, but I can almost guarantee that you will be encouraged, challenged, and compelled to growth if you do.
To purchase a copy of None Greater by Matthew Barrett, click here.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher at no cost to me for the purposes of review. However, my review was not influenced by the author, publisher, or anyone else associated with this book and is the result of my own reading of it