Book Review: The One: In Defense of God

I am honored to say that I am a friend of J. Dan Gill. In the past few months, my family and I enjoyed the fantastic southern hospitality of Dan and his wonderful wife Sharron. Together, with their wide spectrum of combined talents, they run the 21st Century Reformation web site. 

Dan magnanimously provided me with a copy of his new book "The One: In Defense of God," and so I offer this short review.

This apologetic work is a skillfully woven case not only for theism, but something he refers to as monotarianism (p. 98), the existence of one God as one person. He begins his defense in the introduction as though his audience has little to no understanding of who God is or even possesses doubt regarding his existence. Quite naturally then, he begins with atheism and agnosticism, systematically working his way into examining the ways various people groups throughout the ages have thought about the divine and worshipped the “gods.” He investigates and calls into question the traditional ways Christendom has been conditioned to think about God throughout the past two millennia. Not surprisingly, the testimonies of such voices are often found confusing, contradictory and unnecessarily complicated.

The foundation of Hebrew Scriptures and the witness of the New Testament take precedent for Dan over the years of bishop and emperor governed councils and subsequent theological tradition: 

“Multi-personal orthodoxy ultimately triumphed not because it was a good idea or because it was biblical – it was neither. Rather, it prevailed because of persecution. With the coming of Emperor Constantine the Great and his embracing of Christianity, Christians were allowed to exist freely in the Roman world. However, that freedom applied only to people who adhered to the version of Christianity approved by Constantine and his successors” p. 255.

Dan constructs his arguments layer by layer in a clear, direct and understandable way that any layman would be able to fully appreciate. He calls relevant scholarship to the figurative witness stand for the sake of providing testimony, often revealing dubious characters, sinister plots and heinous acts.

Dan writes with a warm, friendly and gentle tone. Great heart and genuineness bleed through the pages as he discusses a plethora of issues that have captivated some Christians and addled others. He provides sufficient detail without becoming too technical or academic for the average reader. Technical details on topics that require greater explanation are put in chapter end-notes.

As I worked my way through the book, I found a number of short, quotable gems: 

“If it were not for the abuses of some religious people, there would be far fewer agnostics and atheists” p. 14. 

At the conclusion of this case, I resoundingly concurred with the verdict. The statements made in his closing remarks offer an appropriate challenge on which Christians should ruminate:  

“Will we forever allow ourselves to be mesmerized by proof-texting, faulty syllogisms and non-scriptural examples . . . will we cling to the notion that we are invincible? We need to quit believing our own Christian propaganda that Christianity could never be wrong in the matter of defining God” p. 263.

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