12 things god cant do

12 Things God Can't Do (Book Review)

An accessible and practical introduction to some of the most profound aspects of the doctrine of God.

Nick Tucker lectured in Doctrine at Oak Hill Theological College and now pastors a church in the south of England. He writes as a pastor-theologian and in this short book (less than 200 pages) he engages with the doctrine of God, particularly his incommunicable attributes.

In what ways is God, the Creator, unlike his creatures?

The aseity of God

Nick’s approach is to deal with things which God cannot do.

The starting point is God’s aseity – the fact that he is independent and sufficient within himself. In other words, he doesn’t need you or me or anyone or anything else to make him complete.

Building on this foundation, he deals with the fact that God cannot learn, be surprised, change his mind, be seen, bear to look at evil, change, be lonely, suffer, die, be tempted, lie, and disown himself.

By approaching the subject from a negative angle, Nick helps us to reflect on God’s nature and character from a new perspective. Moreover, it is aligned with the way the Bible sometimes describes our great God.

The final chapter encourages us to trust in the God who cannot disown himself. “If we are faithless, he remains faithful for he cannot disown himself” (2 Timothy 2:13). We are secure because “you could never rest safely in your own strength of faithfulness. But you can rest in his. So sleep well!” (p184).

The incarnation

Scattered among the twelve chapters, there are five interludes which move from the doctrine of God proper to the mystery of the incarnation.

The God-man, Jesus, slept, was seen, was tempted and was able to suffer. On the cross, he experienced the deepest loneliness and he died for us. Here we “wrestle with how, in the incarnation, God did the very things he cannot do” (p21).

In these sections he engages with some of the great Trinitarian and Christological debates expressed in words that the average reader can readily understand.

Applied theology

The book gives us profound and practical applications of these truths. Theology is never just knowledge. It must be applied.

For example, the fact that Jesus was tempted yet without sin gives us confidence as we battle against sin. Jesus is truly human and so is “able to share our limitations, whilst simultaneously being the God who cannot. In this mystery is hidden the depths of the gospel” (p24).

This truth helps God’s people find rest, “The Son of God, who by nature can neither be lonely nor die, became a man and died alone.… This is the extent of his love. Who, believing that, would not find rest in it?” (p148).

This is a first-class popular theology which is a great introduction to some of the most profound aspects of the doctrine of God. It amplifies our doctrinal basis wonderfully. It is thoroughly orthodox while being original in approach. Touching on the key topics of the Trinity and the incarnation, it engages with both scripture and historical theology.

Nick has given us doctrine that is accessible, theologically astute, and pastorally sensitive.

It is a short course in profound theology and would probably be accessible to a majority of our church members. It should certainly be on every elder’s or church leader’s reading list.

You can order a copy of 12 Things God Can't Do from The Good Book Company.

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