Tuesday, May 5, 2020

37. The Complete Guide to the Names of God

The Complete Guide to the Names of God. George W. Knight. 2020. Barbour Books. [August 2020 this edition] 432 pages. [Source: Review copy] [Reference; Dictionary]

First sentence from introduction: King Solomon of Israel (ruled about 970–930 BC) inherited the task of building the temple in Jerusalem from his father, David (2 Chronicles 6:7–11). Solomon and his subjects thought of this ornate sanctuary as a place where God’s presence would dwell. But when he dedicated the temple, the king declared, “The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built!” (1 Kings 8:27 niv). Solomon was right. God is so much greater than the little human systems we build to place Him in a box. We should approach any study of His names and His characteristics with a strong dose of humility. I have tried to strike this chord of reverence and humility in this book. It brings together one man’s thinking on the major names of God in the Bible. These divine names—of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit—give insight into who God is and how He acts in the world. Throughout the book you will also find related articles with timely information on the nature and work of God. These topics include people, places, and ideas that are especially associated with Him and His redemptive purpose for humankind. I have been teaching the Bible to Sunday school groups for more than fifty years. We have spent many exciting hours discussing the subjects in this book. I hope the information you find here will kindle your appetite for even deeper study of the nature and purpose of the awesome God whom we serve.

This book is an A-to-Z guide. Entries are arranged alphabetically. All entries--or most entries--will prove potentially useful and/or enlightening to believers. But that being said, I can't help but feeling this one has been misnamed. The title doesn't quite fit what you get.

The Complete Guide to the Names of God. What do you think of?! Do you think of all the names, titles, attributes, roles of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit? Do you think ONLY of the names, titles, attributes, roles, types etc. Prophet. Priest. King. Seed. Branch. Messiah. Lamb. Lion. Alpha and Omega. Perhaps If a book is titled Complete Guide to the Names of God, I'd expect 95% of the entries to be specifically related to the subject at hand. I feel this one is more of Bible dictionary. You've got entries on people--Adam, Aaron, Abraham, David, etc. You've got entries to provide context: Baal, black magic, idolatry, demons, Satan, atheism, agnosticism, Islam, etc. You've got entries of key terms for the faith: covenant, atonement, backsliding, etc. The entries seem to be all over the place.

If the book was in fact a Bible dictionary, I wouldn't really think twice about the inclusion of any of the entries.

In addition, I didn't always agree with the definitions and entries. Specifically their entry on FREE WILL.

FREE WILL OF MAN The phrase “free will of man” does not appear in the Bible. But the concept is at the heart of Christian theology. Perhaps the best way to grasp the idea of human free will is to contrast it with divine sovereignty. God is all-powerful (sovereign), so He can do whatever He desires. But in His wisdom He has chosen not to force us to do His bidding. He created us with free will—the right and ability to decide whether to obey His commands or to ignore His instructions. Does human free will somehow negate God’s purpose in sending His Son into the world? Not at all. Just as in Jesus’ time, some people will believe in Him and some will not (see Acts 17:32–34). God wants all people to become a part of His kingdom, but only those who choose to accept Him through the exercise of their faith—their own free will—will be saved (see Ephesians 2:8). See also Divine Election

DIVINE ELECTION The doctrine of election deals with God’s selection of specific groups or individuals on whom He confers His favor. In the Old Testament, He selected the Israelites to be His special people. God did not choose them because they deserved this great honor. It was because He loved them and was determined to keep the covenant He had made with their ancestor Abraham (see Deuteronomy 7:6–8).

I also didn't really understand why it needed to be illustrated. If ever a book didn't really need illustrations it would be a book on the names of God.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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