Review Article John Feinberg’s No One Like Him -- By: John D. Morrison

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 46:4 (Dec 2003)
Article: Review Article John Feinberg’s No One Like Him
Author: John D. Morrison

Review Article
John Feinberg’s No One Like Him

John D. Morrison

It may fairly be said that, in a sense, John Feinberg has been working on and toward No One Like Him for over twenty-five years. His doctoral dissertation for the University of Chicago department of philosophy, “Theologies and Evil” (subsequently published under that same title) wrestled with the question of God in the face of seemingly staggering counter evidence (cf. a later edition, The Many Faces of Evil). What Feinberg has at last produced is indeed a magisterial and magnificent magnum opus which purposes to restate, reformulate, or reconceptualize the doctrine of God for evangelical/Protestant orthodox theology in light of contemporary cultural, philosophical and theological trends, issues and concerns about how we are to understand God and God’s relationship to us in the world. Additionally, Feinberg’s volume is the second volume of a very significant series of theological monographs intended to engage present biblical, theological, and philosophical scholarship on the central loci of the Christian faith largely from a Calvinist perspective. Feinberg’s Calvinism has vast formative effect on the topics, directions and conclusions taken by Feinberg, especially in the latter half of the book.

Thus in the face of prominent contemporary criticisms of “classical” Christian theism, Feinberg is responding to this urgent need by altering, or to use Feinberg’s own oft used term, “nuancing” important aspects of the evangelical God-concept in order to answer contemporary needs and questions to make the said God-concept more coherent. In that sense, Feinberg’s book is, somewhat like Tillich’s Systematic Theology, an answering theology, showing how the God of evangelical orthodoxy, when properly conceptualized and restated, meets the “need” of contemporary persons who feel that God must be one to whom they can relate, who cares for them, who knows and responds interactively with their pain and concerns. For that reason Feinberg’s inclusions and exclusions make this work, again, unique. Many topics usually discussed in a “Theology Proper” text are not included here, for they are not relevant to contemporary debates. Yet Feinberg is rightly wary of the cultural demand for a “user friendly” God who only waits upon our whims and wants but who makes no demands upon us-a god who, in the words of Geddes MacGregor, “lets us be.” Rather, Feinberg wants to balance what would classically be termed God’s transcendence and immanence, or more to the point,

God’s lordly Majesty and his active personal care and concern for the world and persons therein. It is not either transcen...

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