Reclaiming Divine Simplicity

Paperback. 281 pp. $23.95

After an age of original integrity, the doctrine of divine simplicity fell from grace. Once a cornerstone of orthodox Christianity’s doctrine of God, many modern theologians expelled it from the garden, especially since it often employed now-passé Platonic and Aristotelian metaphysics. But was the doctrine of divine simplicity’s fall deserved? Is it unreasonable to hold that God is metaphysically without parts? Is the Lord really one?

Rather than dismiss the challenges leveled against divine simplicity by modernity, The Lord is One engages them. The contributors advance in the belief that modernity cannot and should not be escaped, but they do not hesitate to critique currents within it. Thus, this volume presents exegetical, historical, and theological treatments of divine simplicity. It argues the doctrine of divine simplicity is cogent and indispensable while also making space for historically marginalized or idiosyncratic articulations of it. After all, once expelled from the garden, nothing returns exactly as it was.

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Steven J. Duby, James Duguid, Nathan Greeley, David Haines, Onsi A. Kamel, Joseph Minich, J. David Moser, Derrick Peterson, Joe Rigney, Steven Wedgworth.


DAVENANT RETRIEVALS seek to exemplify the Davenant Institute’s mission of recovering the riches of the Reformation for the contemporary church, offering clear and collaborative expositions of a doctrinal topic key to the Protestant heritage and defending its relevance today.


“This book strikes an extraordinary balance, bringing just enough heat and just enough light to provide a warm and illuminating exploration of divine simplicity. Few discussions of the topic in recent years have managed this, but the essays gathered here combine fervent spiritual commitment to classic doctrine with the clarity of historical and conceptual analysis. Several of these chapters have appeared elsewhere in a variety of formats, and it is so good to have them gathered in one place. This is a substantial resource on one of the most important aspects of the doctrine of God.”

—Fred Sanders

Torrey Honors Institute Biola University

“Over the last few centuries, the concept of divine simplicity has been marginalized, revised, and even rejected—yet it was, and is, foundational to the Christian doctrine of God. It is, therefore, a cause for rejoicing that a collection such as this is a sign of our own times, when orthodoxy with regard to God's being is once again coming to the fore. These essays variously address the biblical testimony to divine simplicity, the systematic implications of such, and the history by which the doctrine was lost and is now being rediscovered. Simplicity is, without doubt, a complicated issue but the editors have broken it down into key aspects, themes, and problems, such that the careful reader will by the end understand why this matter is so important to the well-being of the church.”

—Carl Trueman

Professor of Biblical & Religious Studies, Grove City College

“This is an excellent collection of essays on a theme that's commonly dismissed and rarely understood: God's simplicity. Not only do its contributions ably expound and defend the doctrine, but they challenge assumptions about the doctrine's biblical foundations and how it is framed by modern critics. I heartily recommend it to everyone interested in learning more about the God who is the One Lord!”

—Tyler R. Wittman

Assistant Professor of Christian Theology, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

“The doctrine that God is not composed of separable parts or properties is not a speculative abstraction but a soil sample that reveals much about what is going on in the whole field of theology. These essays provide an excellent overview of the biblical warrants, historical formulations, and philosophical issues involved in staking the controversial, yet all-important theological claim that “the Lord is one, an undivided whole.”

—Kevin J. Vanhoozer

Research Professor of Systematic Theology, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

“Teaching on the essence and attributes of God is the bedrock of the Christian confession. After a long season of its retreat in modern theology, we are once again beginning to see hopeful signs of its renewal. Few divine attributes are of more consequence and controversy than that of God's simplicity. While it has often been criticized or misunderstood, the doctrine of divine simplicity aims to say something indispensably evangelical: that God alone is God. This collection of essays ably introduces the reader to the richness of this theological theme by examining its basis in exegesis, its development in history, and its promise for an evangelical doctrine of God.”

—Timothy Baylor

Lecturer in Theology and Religion, University of Wales Trinity Saint David

“Divine simplicity is an ironically thorny knot. It's exciting to see a collection of shrewd essays taking the intellectualism of the biblical literature and Christianity's theological development with equal seriousness. The editors have compiled instructive works that don't merely preach dogma, but rather, coach readers to think about our theological approach. Kudos.”

—Dru Johnson

Associate Professor of Biblical & Theological Studies, The King’s College


1 Introduction: The World that Passed Away  Onsi A. Kamel 1
2 Divine Simplicity, the Ancient Near East, and the Old
Testament   James Duguid
3 A Biblical and Theological Case for Divine Simplicity   Steven J. Duby 23
4 The Brightness of God’s Own Light: Divine Simplicity in the
Theology of Athanasius   Steven Wedgeworth
5 Divine Simplicity, Triune Action, and Appropriation in
Augustine and Aquinas   J. David Moser
6 Classical Theism in the Magisterial Reformers and Reformed Orthodoxy   David Haines 95
7 “Everything That is in God is God”: Jonathan Edwards on
Divine Simplicity   Joe Rigney
8 The Parting of God: Diagnosing the Fate of Divine
Simplicity in 20th Century Theology   Derrick Peterson
9 A Sacred Monster: On the Secret Fears of Some Recent
Trinitarianism   Derrick Peterson
10 Divine Simplicity: A Reply to Common Philosophical
Objections   Nathan Greeley
11 Conclusion: Quo Vadis, Classical Theism?   Joseph Minich 244


The Davenant Institute endeavors to restore wisdom for the contemporary church. We seek to sponsor historical scholarship at the intersection of the church and academy, build friendships and facilitate collaboration within the Reformed and evangelical world, and equip the saints with time-tested resources for faithful public witness.

Below are some of the works we've published towards that end.