Tuesday, February 24, 2009
The One True God by Paul Washer Review by Tim Challies
It is a question I am asked a lot: what Bible study curriculum do you recommend? I rarely know what to say. There are so many of them available; time would fail me to collect, examine and review them all. I was interested, then, to see that Paul Washer is releasing a new edition of The One True God, a title first released several years ago. It is published by Granted Ministries Press. No less than Iain Murray declares that it is “the best introductory work known to me. … Young Christians could scarcely spend their time better than working carefully through these pages.”
This is a 192 page hardcover book meant for serious study. “The great goal of this study is for the student to have an encounter with God through His Word. Founded upon the conviction that the Scriptures are the inspired and infallible Word of God, this study has been designed in such a way that it is literally impossible for the student to advance without an open Bible before him or her.” And he is right. A person who seeks to skim through this study or who leaves it for the last minute will not only gain very little but will actually be unable to complete it.
Washer begins his book this necessary, valuable exhortation. “The study of doctrine is both an intellectual and devotional discipline. It is a passionate search for God that should always lead the student to greater personal transformation, obedience, and heartfelt worship. Therefore, the student should be on guard against the great error of seeking only impersonal knowledge, and not the person of God. Neither mindless devotion nor mere intellectual pursuits are profitable, for in either case, God is lost.” The purpose of this study, then, is not merely to increase knowledge, but to increase devotion. At the same time, we must not downplay knowledge for “The mind is not the enemy of the heart, and doctrine is not an obstacle to devotion. The two are indispensable and should be inseparable.” We must love God with heart, soul and mind; we must love God in both spirit and truth.
Each of the book’s fourteen lessons looks to a specific attribute of God. Studies include “God is One,” “God is Spirit,” “God is Righteous,” “God is Creator and Sustainer” and “The Names of God.” The student will complete lessons only by looking to Scripture, studying it and understanding it. It is self-directed in that the benefit gained will be directly proportional to the work given to it. Says Washer, “The student will find that this is primarily a Biblical study and does not contain much in the way of colorful illustrations, quaint stories, or even theological commentaries. It was our desire to provide a work that only pointed the way to the Scriptures and allowed the Scriptures to speak for themselves.” And this is exactly what he accomplishes.
The lessons are completed right within the book, ensuring that this is a book you will personalize and make your own. There are fill-in-the-blank questions, questions that will require turning to Scripture and completing a sentence or two of summary, and questions that will require thought and application. All of this is interspersed with solid, biblical teaching about the person and character of God. You can view an older edition of the book here if you would like to get a taste of the format (though you should note that the new edition looks quite a bit nicer, even if the content is the same).
Suitable for individual use, small groups or Sunday school classes, this is a valuable book and one that will serve you well. It will draw your mind, your heart and your affections to the One True God. I highly recommend it and agree with Iain Murray—a young Christian could scarcely do better than to work through it with care, keeping his Bible open all the while.