Jen Wilkin’s None Like Him is an introduction to the study of divine attributes.
Each chapter is laid out in much the same fashion: an anecdote begins each with a way to conceptualize the topic of the chapter (such as omnipotence), then an exposition of the meaning of the term and its importance in the Bible, following this there are a few ways that humans distort whatever divine attribute is being discussed, and the chapter closes with a few study questions, verses for more exploration, and a prayer. The format makes it ideal to use as a 10-11 meeting study group.
Upon starting the book, I immediately realized I wasn’t the intended audience. Although I checked the catalogue description and didn’t see anything about this, the book is apparently intended for study by women who are interested in getting deeper into theology. I’m a man, but I don’t think this precluded me in any way from doing a review of the book.
Wilkin’s use of examples, I felt, was particularly helpful. As I said, each chapter begins with an anecdote that helps illustrate the attribute or quality that is being disussed. Wilkin uses examples throughout the text to help make the abstract concrete, and I didn’t notice any that seemed to be off point. I also thought including sections on how humans distort various divine attributes was a wise choice, and made the book even more practical and applicable than it might otherwise have been.
The book is not without flaws, however. One of the most obvious is the somewhat ironic continued usage of the archaic “man” to refer to all humanity. Because the book is explicitly written for women (see the Introduction), this makes saying things like “our fellow man” in the same context as “we” sound stilted and strange. A deeper problem is that control of one’s own body is treated as a “sin” explicitly and exclusively even when it comes to a disease like anorexia or other eating disorders (Kindle Location 1746): “when we cross the line into unhealthy control [of our bodies], we move… to idolatry. This can take the form of… eating disorders…” No grace is offered in this passage for those who do struggle with things like eating disorders. Indeed, the message conveyed is contextually that all we need to do is stop “striving for control” and take away our commitment to “your own sovereignty” and we can then conquer these sinful issues. This is a deeply problematic to engage with something like an eating disorder, because eating disorders impact people mentally as well as physically to the point where it takes outside intervention to stop. Indeed, it is at this point that it might make the most sense to offer grace, because God’s inworking on humanity is what it takes to fight against such darkness in the world.
None Like Him is, ultimately, a decent introduction to the topics it covers. It doesn’t go much beyond the basics, but it does offer a good format and examples to help think through the issues. However, it is marred by a simplistic understanding of sin and adherence to archaic forms of expression.
+Interesting use of day-to-day examples
-Archaic use of masculine to refer… to women
-Treats disorders as inherently sinful
Disclaimer: I was provided with a copy of the book for review by the publisher. I was not obligated to provide any specific kind of feedback whatsoever.
Jen Wilkin, None Like Him (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2016).