Systematic theology at its best devotes its attention not only to individual topics such as God, salvation, church, and sacraments. It also devotes its attention to relationships between such topics.
One of the most important relationships that systematic theology considers is the relationship between the doctrine of God (i.e., theology proper) and theological method. Either explicitly or implicitly, systematic theology makes judgments about the relationship between subjects such as the God of the philosophers and the God of Jesus Christ, revealed theology and natural theology, Scripture and philosophy, faith and reason. Such judgments are vital to the task of theology and, when improperly made, can (and often do) lead to significant error in Christian teaching about God.
Steve Duby’s latest book, God in Himself: Scripture, Metaphysics, and the Task of Christian Theology, offers an important course correction for contemporary approaches to the doctrine of God by reframing the relationship between theology proper and theological method. It delineates and debunks a number of common misconceptions about theology and metaphysics, the place of Christology in the doctrine of God, and the nature of analogy and directs us to more biblical, reasonable approaches to these issues, drawing on the best theologians of the catholic and Reformed tradition.
God in Himself is not necessarily a book for all readers. Duby engages his subject matter at an advanced academic level, addressing an astonishingly wide range of historical and contemporary arguments. That said, his prose is remarkably clear and he never loses sight of the ultimate end of academic theology, which is communion with the triune God.
Anyone who has studied systematic theology over the past several decades, especially the doctrine of God, will find Duby’s arguments both well-informed and remarkably fresh relative to what are often touted as “pure” Protestant approaches to these issues. For these reasons and many others, I am happy to commend Duby’s excellent book.