Gregory Wayne Edwards. Pure God: Finally, Answers to Your Questions! Bloomington: Westbow Press (a Division of Thomas Nelson), 2013. See here to buy the book.
According to the “About the Author” section of the book, Gregory
Wayne Edwards has been an engineer, a reserve-deputy sheriff, a church
elder, and a Sunday school teacher. In Pure God, Edwards addresses questions about the Bible and Christianity.
Some of Edwards’ answers are pretty standard, from a conservative
Christian standpoint: Edwards defends the deity of Christ, justification
by grace through faith, and the inerrancy of the Bible. Edwards also
gives the customary conservative Christian justifications for why God
ordered the Israelites to kill the Canaanites. Nothing new there.
Where Edwards got interesting was when he was propounding
interpretations that I had never heard before. Edwards seemed to be
arguing, for example, that I Corinthians 15, which is about the
resurrection, is actually about souls leaving their physical bodies to
get new spiritual bodies, going to heaven if they are saved and to hell
if they are not. There were more things like this.
Sometimes, Edwards did not appear to justify his arguments. Edwards
said, for example, that the number of the Beast is 666 because that is
the number of perfection minus God. The number of perfection is 777,
and the number of the Trinity is 111, and when you subtract the latter
from the former you get 666. The point is that 666 is about being
without God. But why assume that 111 is the number for the Trinity? Is
there any evidence for this in the Bible? Edwards also said that the
144,000 in the Book of Revelation were unsaved Jews whom God will
protect and give the opportunity to be saved in the end times. But why
does Edwards think that the 144,000 will be unsaved, when there seem to
be Christian things that the 144,000 do in the Book of Revelation (i.e.,
they follow the Lamb, according to Revelation 14:4)?
At other times, Edwards appeared to be making good points and asking
good questions, but his answer fell flat because it was wrong. Edwards
was addressing the question of where Cain got his wife. He made a good
point about there being other people out there besides Adam, Eve, and
Cain, since Cain was afraid that someone would kill him, which is why
God gave Cain a protective mark. Edwards also astutely raises the
possibility that Cain met his wife in the land of Nod: Cain goes to
dwell in Nod in Genesis 4:16, and in the next verse he has a wife.
Edwards’ conclusion is that Cain’s wife was descended from Adam’s son
Seth, and that Adam and Eve had Seth before Cain killed Abel. Before
Cain killed Abel, Edwards maintains, descendants of Seth, including the
woman who would become Cain’s wife, were in the land of Nod. The
problem here is that Genesis 4:25 seems to indicate that Seth was born
as a replacement for Abel, after Abel had been killed.
There was one interesting discussion that somewhat convinced me, but
not entirely. Genesis 6:4 refers to nephilim who were in the pre-Flood
days, and also after that, and the pre-Flood nephilim were presumably
born from the sexual union of the sons of God and the daughters of men.
People have wondered how there were nephilim after the time of the
Flood, when the Flood destroyed everyone except for the people and
animals on the Ark. Edwards argues that the post-Flood nephilim were
descended from Noah’s son Ham and Ham’s wife. Ham’s wife, according to
Edwards, was from the nephilim. The Canaanites, after all, were
descended from Ham and his wife, and there were nephilim among the
Canaanites (Numbers 13:33). Does that mean that Ham was married to a
giant, since many translations (including the Septuagint) and Jewish
traditions regard the nephilim as giants? Was the Ark big enough to
accommodate a giant? Edwards’ answer is that Ham’s wife was not a
giant, and that there is no indication that the nephilim in Noah’s day
were giants. But many Jewish traditions say that they were.
Pinpointing Edwards’ denominational affiliation or the branch of
Christianity to which he adhered was impossible for me. He believes in
Once Saved, Always Saved (yet he says that God may “take someone’s life
to save his or her soul from utter destruction,” and I wonder why utter
destruction of a believer’s soul would even be a possibility if eternal
security were true). He interprets the baptism in the Holy Spirit as
all believers receiving the Holy Spirit when they believe, not as a
second blessing or spiritual empowering that some believers have but
others lack (and, because of this view, he disputes that the Samarians
in Acts 8 who were baptized in the name of Jesus but had not yet
received the Holy Spirit had authentic Christian belief). He thinks
that tongues continue to be a spiritual gift from the Holy Spirit and
regards the tongues of I Corinthians as ecstatic utterances rather than
as human languages. He equates prophecy with preaching. It is
difficult to stereotype Edwards, for I do not know anyone who has held
all of these positions simultaneously.
Because Edwards was saying things that were new to me, as well as
defying stereotypes, I was glad that he ended most discussions with a
summary of his argument. Otherwise, I would not always have been clear
about what he was driving at.
This book was an interesting read, not so much from a scholarly
perspective, but from the standpoint of reading an intelligent layperson
trying to make sense of the Bible. He had some good anecdotes, too,
and his love of the Lord is attractive. I did wish in reading the book
that he manifested more humility—-that he acknowledged that he was
presenting his own opinion rather than the unequivocal position of the
I received a complimentary review copy of this book from BookLook Bloggers, in exchange for an honest review.
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