Monday, March 6, 2017

"None Other" by John MacArthur: A Review

Knowing about God is not the same as knowing God. Almost anyone can tell you something about the Lord—the facts about Him are not a secret. He is merciful and kind. He loves sinners in spite of their sin. He’s the Creator and sustainer of the universe, and He is the rightful “Judge of all” (Heb. 12:23). But those facts represent only a few facets of who God truly is. And for those who do not know and love Him, they offer little more than a veiled glimpse of His nature.

In these pages, we want to get beyond the mere facts of who God is and develop an understanding of His character. We want to know His heart and His will and delve deeply into His complicated relationship with humanity. In simple terms, we don’t merely want to know about God, we want to know Him. (1)

I have been waiting for many years for John MacArthur to publish a book on theology proper that was both theologically rich and pastorally sensitive. Fortunately, 2017 blessed us with such a work in None Other: Discovering the God of the Bible.

Each chapter explores a unique attribute of God but is unlike most books of its kind. Instead of having a chapter on God's love, sovereignty, simplicity, jealousy, holiness, etc. each chapter highlights the major attributes and MacArthur weaves in other aspects of God's nature. The chapters cover God's sovereignty, his goodness, power, holiness, love, and salvation. Yet within each of those chapters, MacArthur goes shows how these major attributes connects to many of the others. For example, in his chapter on the goodness of God, MacArthur explores the difficult question of theodicy. In his final chapter on God as Savior, MacArthur explores the immutability and impassibility of God.

Yet what makes this book rich is not the deep theology but the pastoral care. Both, one should note, go hand in hand. MacArthur notes how often we get Divine Benevolence wrong and how damaging that is to us personally and socially. So too, he applies the holiness of God to the doctrine of sin and sanctification. As God is holy so we are called to holiness.

As a whole, this is a helpful introduction to theology proper and is precisely what one expects from the pen and preaching of MacArthur. It is theologically rich and pastorally sensitive, full of Scripture references. Yet of all the books I have read of MacArthur, this is perhaps his most Calvinist volume. At the beginning, MacArthur defends unconditional election. Later he criticizes Arminian theology directly.

Such discussions are not new in books of this type, but MacArthur seems to go out of his way to raise them. The author almost forces the issue upon the reader. Although most reading MacArthur are aware of his Calvinism, I doubt many have read anything this strong from his pen.

Nevertheless, this is a helpful volume on an important theological loci. We cannot know ourselves unless we know God and MacArthur introduces us to our Creator-Redeemer.
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