One God in Three Persons: Unity of Essence, Distinction of Persons, Implications for Life

One God in Three Persons: Unity of Essence, Distinction of Persons, Implications for LifeI’m excited to point out a new book from Crossway that tackles some of the issues facing the doctrine of the Trinity today: One God in Three Persons: Unity of Essence, Distinction of Persons, Implications for Life. I had the privilege of contributing a chapter with my good friend Andy Naselli. Our chapter, “An Examination of Recent Arguments against Eternal Hierarchy in the Trinity” (tentative title), evaluates some of the philosophical arguments against the notion of hierarchy in the immanent Trinity and finds them unpersuasive.

Here’s the book’s description:

How do the three persons of the Trinity relate to each other? Evangelicals continue to debate this complex concept—especially its implications for our understanding of men and women’s roles in both the home and the church. Offering a comprehensive exposition of the complementarian perspective, this book combines the insights of fifteen prominent evangelical scholars who examine the issue from exegetical, theological, historical, and pastoral perspectives. The contributors to this volume have written one of the most substantive treatises to date, defending the eternal submission of the Son and Spirit to the Father with a wide array of persuasive evidences.

Bruce Ware and John Starke edited the volume, and eleven others—Wayne Grudem, Jim Hamilton, Scott Oliphint, Michael Haykin, Jeffrey Robinson, Robert Letham, Michael Ovey, Andy Naselli, Chris Cowan, Kyle Claunch, and I—contributed chapters.

It’s projected to be released in April of 2015, but it’s available for pre-order now.

Since the doctrine of the Trinity is one of my favorite areas of study, I’m looking forward to this book’s release and reading the chapters from the other contributors. If you get a chance to read it, I’d love to hear your feedback on our chapter.

If this topic interests you, you may want to check out some of my previous blog posts related to hierarchy in the Trinity:

  1. Ware–Grudem vs. McCall–Yandell on the Trinity
  2. My Question for Dr. Yandell
  3. Does Eternal Subordination Entail a Denial of Homoousion?
  4. Does the McCall–Yandell Argument Work? Feinberg Says No
  5. The Failed Strategy of Trinity and Subordinationism
  6. Essential Equality and Functional Subordination: A Complementarian Novelty?
  7. Hierarchy Does Not Necessitate Opposition
  8. Warfield on Eternal Subordination in the Trinity
  9. Barth on the Son’s Subordination to the Father
  10. Gunton on Taxis in the Trinity
  11. John Frame on 1 Corinthians 15:28 and Eternal Subordination
  12. Moulton on 1 Corinthians 15:28
  13. The Father = The Trinity

For more on the Trinity, see also these posts:

  1. The Doctrine of the Trinity in Five Theses
  2. How Do the Father, Son, and Spirit Differ?
  3. Are the Father, Son, and Spirit Equally Persons?
  4. Is the Trinity One ‘What’ and Three ‘Who’s’?
  5. Warfield, Vos, and Van Til: Is God One Person?
  6. Are You a Practical Modalist?
  7. Review of Father, Son and Spirit: The Trinity and John’s Gospel by Andreas J. Köstenberger and Scott R. Swain
  8. To Him Be Glory Forever
  9. Intratrinitarian Reconciliation?
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Rob Bell and Andrew Wilson Discuss Homosexuality and the Bible

Rob BellOr perhaps I should have titled that “Rob Bell Discusses Homosexuality and Andrew Wilson Discusses the Bible,” because there was a disturbing lack of Bible in Rob Bell’s answers and arguments. Instead, Rob argued along these lines (and I’m paraphrasing):

  • People don’t like Christianity. Therefore, we should change the parts they don’t like.
  • The modern world affirms homosexuality. Therefore, we should too.
  • Monogamous homosexuals aren’t hurting anyone. Therefore, they’re not sinful.
  • Monogamy is better than promiscuity because the latter is dangerous and destructive.
  • Because homosexuals want to share their lives with each other, they should be able to.

I wasn’t familiar with Andrew Wilson prior to watching this video, but I appreciate the way he interacted with Rob. He was direct, logical, kind, persistent, and uncompromising.

Watch it for yourself.

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Warfield, Vos, and Van Til: Is God One Person?

Shield of the TrinityOrthodox trinitarianism typically refers to God in terms of three persons or subsistences (personas, subsistentia, or ὑποστάσιες) and one essence or substance (essentiasubstantia, or οὐσία). But is there a sense in which God is one person? To put it another way, is God’s oneness personal?

Here’s how three Princeton theologians addressed this topic.

B. B. Warfield (1851–1921)

The elements in the doctrine of God which above all others needed emphasis in Old Testament times were naturally His unity and His personality. The great thing to be taught the ancient people of God was that the God of all the earth is one person. Over against the varying idolatries about them, this was the truth of truths for which Israel was primarily to stand; and not until this great truth was ineffaceably stamped upon their souls could the personal distinctions in the Triune-God be safely made known to them.

Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield, “The Spirit of God in the Old Testament,” chapter 3 of Biblical Doctrines, vol. 2 of The Works of Benjamin B. Warfield (New York: Oxford University Press, 1932), 127 (emphasis added).

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Free Download of R. C. Sproul’s The Truth of the Cross

The Truth of the CrossR. C. Sproul’s The Truth of the Cross is available as a free download through April 30, 2013 from Ligonier Ministries and Reformation Trust. The best option is to grab the Logos version. It’s also available for Kindle and as an EPUB.

Here are the ten topics he covers:

  1. The Necessity of an Atonement
  2. The Just God
  3. Debtors, Enemies, and Criminals
  4. Ransomed from Above
  5. The Saving Substitute
  6. Made Like His Brethren
  7. The Suffering Servant
  8. The Blessing and the Curse
  9. A Secure Faith
  10. Questions and Answers

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John Murray on Union with Christ

Redemption Accomplished and AppliedJohn Murray’s Redemption Accomplished and Applied is one of my all-time favorite books. I highly recommend it as a biblical and Reformed study on the atonement and the ordo salutis.

I’m preparing to teach on union with Christ at my church in a couple of weeks, and I decided to reread Murray’s chapter on the subject. It was time well spent.

Here are some highlights:

Nothing is more central or basic than union and communion with Christ. . . . [U]nion with Christ is in itself a very broad and embracive subject. It is not simply a step in the application of redemption; . . . it underlies every step of the application of redemption. Union with Christ is really the central truth of the whole doctrine of salvation not only in its application but also in its once-for-all accomplishment in the finished work of Christ. Indeed the whole process of salvation has its origin in one phase of union with Christ and salvation has in view the realization of other phases or union with Christ. (161)

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Is Google Keep Better Than Evernote?

Google KeepOn the heels of announcing the demise of Google Reader (and several other services), Google has launched a new note-taking app called Google Keep, which has as its tagline “save what’s on your mind.” Keep is currently an Android app, which requires Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) or higher, and a web app (under the Google Drive brand). I imagine an iOS app is forthcoming, but there’s no word from Google on that yet.

Most are comparing Google Keep to Evernote (and, to a lesser degree, OneNote). While there is some overlap, Evernote is still a much more robust product with a bigger feature set and far greater device compatibility. Google Keep has an attractive user interface and is being met with a pretty positive response—an average rating of 4.4/5 stars in the Google Play store so far, but it’s presently nowhere near Evernote’s capabilities.

Here’s a breakdown of the pros and cons of Google Keep vs. Evernote:

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The Best Google Reader Replacement

Google ReaderGoogle Reader has long been the best RSS aggregator available. It arrived on the scene in 2005 and quickly overtook the competition. I switched from Bloglines to Google Reader shortly after it was released and never looked back.  Their web app is excellent, and their Android app is pretty solid too, even if not as advanced as some of its competitors’ offerings. Its robust API is also the foundation for most mobile RSS apps.

Although RSS has never really taken off with the masses, those of us who are more technologically inclined consider it one of the most useful and efficient ways to keep up with content from multiple sources.

The End of Google Reader

Unfortunately, Google announced that they’re retiring Reader.

We launched Google Reader in 2005 in an effort to make it easy for people to discover and keep tabs on their favorite websites. While the product has a loyal following, over the years usage has declined. So, on July 1, 2013, we will retire Google Reader. Users and developers interested in RSS alternatives can export their data, including their subscriptions, with Google Takeout over the course of the next four months.

It’s not because a better product came along and stole their market share. It’s not because RSS is dead. Rather, Google is cleaning house and refocusing its resources.

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The Doctrine of the Trinity in Five Theses

Shield of the TrinityHere’s how Geerhardus Vos articulates the core affirmations of the orthodox doctrine of the Trinity:

  1. There is only one divine being. Scripture expresses itself decisively against all polytheism (Deut 6:4; Isa 44:6; Jas 2:19).
  2. In this one God are three modes of existence, which we refer to by the word “person” and which are, each one, this only true God. In Scripture these three persons are called, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
  3. These three persons, although together the one true God, are nevertheless distinguished from each other insofar as they assume objective relations toward each other, address each other, love each other, and can interact with each other.
  4. Although these three persons possess one and the same divine substance, Scripture nevertheless teaches us that, concerning their personal existence, the Father is the first, the Son the second, and the Holy Spirit the third, that the Son is of the Father, the Spirit of the Father and the Son. Further, their workings outwardly reflect this order of personal existence, since the Father works through the Son, and the Father and Son work through the Spirit. There is, therefore, subordination as to personal manner of existence and manner of working, but no subordination regarding possession of the one divine substance.
  5. The divine substance is not divided among the three persons as if each possesses one-third. Neither is it a new substance beside the three persons. Finally, neither is it an abstraction of our thinking in a nominalistic sense. But in a manner for which all further analogy is lacking, each of these persons possesses the entire divine substance.

Geerhardus Vos, “The Trinity,” chapter 3 of Theology Proper, vol. 1 of Reformed Dogmatics, ed. Richard B. Gaffin, trans. Annemie Godbehere (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2013), 38–39.

By the way, today is Vos’s 151st birthday. In honor, Logos Bible Software just posted a 14-volume collection of Vos’s works on Pre-Pub. They’re also working on the first ever English translation of Vos’s Reformed Dogmatics, from which the above quotation comes.

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7 Things I Love about the Nexus 7

Nexus 7I’ve been using a Nexus 7 (from Google and Asus) for the last seven months, and I’ve really enjoyed it. It’s a nearly perfect device—at least for my needs. It replaced my third generation iPad (which my wife and daughter now share) and my HTC Evo phone.

Here are seven things I love about it, in no particular order:

  1. It’s fast. When I tap, it responds. It doesn’t get sluggish or laggy like other Android tablets I’ve tried. It’s performance is on par with the iPad.
  2. It’s sharp. One of my primary uses is reading (primarily using the Vyrso, Bible, and Faithlife apps), so it’s important to me that text looks crisp. The 1280×800 screen delivers well.
  3. It’s comfortable. It’s light, feels good, and can be used with one hand. That makes it ideal for extended use and multitasking (like holding my wife, daughter, or son with my other arm).
  4. It’s portable. I can easily carry it with me in the back pocket of most of my jeans and the front pocket of my dress pants. If I’m wearing a coat, it fits in any pocket. One of my biggest frustrations with the iPad was its portability.
  5. It’s affordable. What you get for the price—around $200 for the 16 GB version—is well worth it.
  6. It’s Google. I love the Google ecosystem. I use most of Google’s services, and it brings them all together nicely—including the new Google Now. Unlike other devices, there’s no extra junk that I don’t want and can’t remove. As Google releases new OS updates, Nexus 7 owners are among the first to get them.
  7. It’s compatible. Since it’s sold really well, most app developers make sure their apps work well on it. There have been very few issues with compatibility, and most have been addressed fairly quickly.

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John Piper on Alcohol Consumption

John PiperJohn Piper’s view on alcohol consumption is encapsulated in these four sources:

  1. Total Abstinence and Church Membership,” a sermon preached on October 4, 1981
  2. Flesh Tank and Peashooter Regulations,” a sermon on Colossians 2:16–23 preached on January 17, 1982
  3. Is It Okay to Drink Alcohol?Ask Pastor John podcast, May 8, 2010
  4. Is Drinking Alcohol a Sin?” Ask Pastor John podcast, October 23, 2013

Total Abstinence and Church Membership

Total Abstinence and Church Membership,” though delivered nearly 32 years ago, is his most extensive treatment on the subject (that I’ve come across). In it he gives four main reasons that he personally abstains from alcohol consumption:

  1. “. . . because of my conscience.”
  2. “. . . alcohol is a mind-altering drug.”
  3. “. . . alcohol is addictive.”
  4. “. . . to make a social statement.”

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