Since our community’s earliest days, God manifestation has been central to the Christadelphian understanding of Bible teaching. Brother Thomas wrote about the doctrine in Elpis Israel and Eureka and devoted a whole book, Phanerosis, to its exposition. In 1883, under the title Yahweh Elohim, his daughter, Sister Eusebia Lasius, wrote a detailed meditative study of the Memorial Name.

The twentieth century saw publication of further works on this subject, including Brother CC Walker’s 1929 book Theophany (subtitled “A Study of God-Manifestation”) and, in 1937, Brother John Carter’s succinct pamphlet God Manifestation. Various books and magazine articles were also published on related themes such as the cherubim, the angels and the names and titles of God.

In recent decades, very few works have been published on this exalted theme (apart from Brother Jason Hensley’s 2009 book Unlocking the Mystery: An Introduction to God Manifestation). It is very pleasing, therefore, that The Christadelphian recently published a book entitled Showing Forth the Virtues of God. Complied by Brother Rob Lawson, it is a collection of previously published magazine articles and extracts from books from the time of Brother Thomas to today.

Principles and symbols

The first section of the work, titled “God Manifestation: principles and symbols”, commences with a pair of articles which provide an overview of God manifestation in the Old and New Testaments.These are followed by chapters on the Memorial Name, the angels and the ultimate manifestation of God in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The book then reproduces two extracts from the writings of Brother Thomas—one from Phanerosis on “the Man of the One” about the vision in Daniel 10, and the other comments from Elpis Israel about the cherubim. These are complemented by an article from the pen of Brother CC Walker on Isaiah’s vision of the seraphim. The final chapter in the first section of the book, titled “Difficulties for solution”, reproduces the article by Brother Thomas from which the quote at the beginning of this review is taken. The words above are often quoted, but they really need to be read in their broader context to appreciate their full significance.

Attributes of God

After considering what the compiler recognises “might be considered the more technical elements of the subject”, the second section reproduces a series of fifteen articles written by Brother John Morris and published in The Christadelphian in 1994 and 1995 under the theme “The God of Truth”. These chapters commence by acknowledging the value of understanding the names and titles of the Almighty and stressing the need to build on this by developing an appreciation of the attributes of God. If we as saints are to fulfil our destiny to manifest God both in the days of our probation and in the age to come, we must develop and manifest the qualities of God such as holiness, mercy, goodness, love, salvation, truth and judgment.

The chapters in this section are a sublime exposition of these divine attributes. As Brother Morris notes, it is difficult to separate the qualities of God into separate, discrete topics because of the inherent overlap between them. There is, however, value in looking at them sequentially so that we might develop a better-informed picture of the character of the God we worship.

Brother Morris adopts a pattern in which he looks at how each attribute is reflected in the writings of Moses, the Psalms and the prophets before moving on to consider how that characteristic was displayed in the life of our Lord and what this means for those who aspire to be one with God and the Lord Jesus Christ. Not surprisingly, the author frequently refers to that great declaration of the character of God in Exodus 34. Inevitably, these chapters include detailed exposition, but the material presented is strongly exhortational and very practical. His thought-provoking comments on our heavenly Father as a jealous God are a good example.

A feature of these chapters is discussion of the Hebrew words employed to describe attributes of God. In this regard, the author makes two comments on the language used in the Old Testament which are well worth pondering:

  • Hebrew is uniquely God’s language, with a vocabulary attuned to divine things (page 131).
  • ?We need today to enter a little more into the Hebrew mind, which sees God always “on high”, “lifted up” — and man, correspondingly, lowly (page 103 – in the chapter entitled “Holy, holy, holy”).

There also are useful comments on the Greek words used in the New Testament. Brother Morris’s remarks on the background to the Greek “agape” are especially interesting.

Names and titles

The third and final section of the book comprises “adapted extracts” from Brother WH Boulton’s book Names and Titles of the Deity. The sub-sections in this part of the work commence with a short definition of each name or title prepared by Brother Lawson based on the comments of Brother Boulton. The compiler observes that this material provides a basis for profitable personal study and that it could be built upon by a consideration of some of the less frequently used titles.

While everything in Showing Forth the Virtues of God has been published previously, it is very helpful to be able to consider the material collated in this way. For those who have read widely on this subject, reading this book will reinforce their understanding of long-cherished truths. For those not so well acquainted with the topic, the book will serve as a good introduction and a base on which to build. All will benefit from considering the holiness, the majesty, the graciousness and the wonder of the God we worship who has called us to be “a people for his name”.