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The Failed Strategy of “Trinity & Subordinationism”

trinity-and-subordinationism.jpgKevin Giles’s The Trinity & Subordinationism is easily one of the worst books I have ever read.1 I say that not because I disagree with the position he defends (i.e., the Son is not in any sense eternally subordinate to the Father); I’m still in the process of evaluating the evidence. Rather, I make that statement based primarily2 on what the book itself sets out to do.

Giles’s goal in T&S is to move beyond the exegetical impasse regarding eternal subordination in the Trinity by appealing to tradition.

Quoting biblical texts and giving one’s interpretation of them cannot resolve complex theological disputes. . . . I believe this approach [to “doing theology”] should . . . be abandoned today because it always leads to a “text-jam.” . . . What we have today is a bitter stalemate (3).

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Footnotes

  1. I should clarify that I have read and am referring to only his section on the Trinity, which is its own distinct unit.
  2. I’ll probably follow up this post with the book’s other problems, such as (1) misunderstanding and misrepresenting complementarians, (2) selective reading of history, (3) eisegesis of historical texts, (4) category confusion, etc., etc. Here’s one example of misrepresentation to give you an idea of the way Giles interacts with complemenatarian Trinitarianism throughout the book: “Rather than working as one, the divine persons have been set in opposition—with the Father commanding and the Son obeying.” I wrote this in the margin, “Opposition?!!! What a massive misrepresentation!” I challenge Giles to show one complementarian who considers the Father and the Son to be in a relationship of opposition!

The Merit of Faith: Genesis 15:6 in JPS

jps.jpgI just received the JPS Bible and Torah Commentary Collection (9 volumes) from Logos and started “thumbing” through a couple of the volumes. I’m glad I picked it up. It looks like a valuable series—primarily for what it reveals about modern Judaism’s understanding of the Tanakh.

As I expected, though, I’m going to disagree with many of the interpretations that it defends. Nahum Sarna’s interpretation of Genesis 15:6, for example, is disappointing on several levels.1

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Footnotes

  1. Nahum M. Sarna, Genesis, The JPS Torah commentary (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1989), 113.

David Instone-Brewer Reviews SESB 2

sesb.jpgDavid Instone-Brewer (also here and here), the Technical Officer and Senior Research Fellow in Rabbinics and the New Testament at Tyndale House, has posted his review of version 2 of the Stuttgart Electronic Study Bible (SESB).

Here are some selections from his section “Overall Usefulness: much better than paper”:

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No More Sea?

Sunset over the SeaDoes Revelation 21:1 teach that the new earth will not have large bodies of water (θαλάσσας)—no more lakes, seas, or oceans? Most think so.

The “sea” . . . must disappear before the eternity of joy can begin.1

The first hint of what the new heaven and new earth will be like comes in John’s observation that there will no longer be any sea. That will be a startling change from the present earth, nearly three-fourths of which is covered by water.2

Why would this be? Most argue that the sea symbolizes evil (or death or disorder), and thus the eradication of evil necessitates the removal of the sea.
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Footnotes

  1. Grant R. Osborne, Revelation, BECNT (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2002), 743.
  2. John MacArthur, Revelation 12–22 (Chicago: Moody, 2000), 263.

Economic Trinitarian Relations

Pastor Timothy Mills recently submitted a review of Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology to our PastorBookshelf Reviews website. His comments were generally positive, but not as positive as I would have hoped for such a fine introduction to biblical doctrine.

One area where he disagreed with Grudem was in his handling of the Trinity.

His choice, however, of the model of the Trinity as a hierarchy setting the pattern for the marriage relationship (454) is problematic. The Trinity is a tri-unity, while a marriage is merely dual-mutual. Yes, the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is head of the church (Eph. 5:23), but that is a relationship between the husband and wife, as between Christ and the church; but not as between the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit. No where does the New Testament make that comparison.

I suggested to Pastor Mills that that is precisely the connection Paul makes in 1 Cor 11:3: “But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.” Just as a husband is the head of his wife, so the Father is the head of the Son.

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My NT Logos Workspace

A friend recently asked me how to get the most out of some of the great resources in SESB (now in version 2). My response was that he should create two workspaces—one for OT studies and one for NT studies—and integrate the texts and apparatuses with his other language tools. That led me to revisit my NT workspace and tweak it to take advantage of some newly acquired resources. Here’s a screenshot of my NT workspace, which was inspired by Rick Brannan’s workspace. I’m able to fit three columns comfortably on my 22″ Acer. I haven’t tried this on my 15″ laptop screen, but I imagine it would be a little cramped.

NT Workspace

(Click to view the full-sized image.)

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Titus 2:11 in Calvin

A few days ago I discussed Titus 2:11 in Context in light of my personal Bible reading and my stumbling across this rather bothersome statement by Donald Bloesch:

The Calvinist position, especially as transmitted through Reformed orthodoxy, stands in palpable conflict with the New Testament witness.1 Titus 2:11 assures us that “the grace of God has appeared for the salvation of all men.” The Pauline writer of 1 Timothy contends that Jesus Christ sacrificed himself “to win freedom for all mankind” (2:6 NEB).2

In case you skipped over the footnote, Bloesch said, “In this discussion we need to bear in mind that Calvin’s position and that of later Calvinism are not identical.”

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Footnotes

  1. In this discussion we need to bear in mind that Calvin’s position and that of later Calvinism are not identical. See Clifford, Atonement and Justification, pp. 69–110.
  2. Donald G. Bloesch, Jesus Christ: Savior & Lord (Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 1997), 168.

Titus 2:11 in Context

“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people (Ἐπεφάνη γὰρ ἡ χάρις τοῦ θεοῦ σωτήριος πᾶσιν ἀνθρώποις)” (Tit 2:11). This text is a favorite of Arminians and pseudo-Reformed men like Donald G. Bloesch, who asserts, “The Calvinist position, especially as transmitted through Reformed orthodoxy, stands in palpable conflict with the New Testament witness.1 Titus 2:11 assures us that ‘the grace of God has appeared for the salvation of all men.’”2

I don’t think a contextually sensitive reading of this passage will support such a naïve statement. While the context may not decisively rule out the interpretation Bloesch takes, several factors point in the direction of the following interpretation and demonstrate the gross misrepresentation of Bloesch’s statement.

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Footnotes

  1. In this discussion we need to bear in mind that Calvin’s position and that of later Calvinism are not identical. See Clifford, Atonement and Justification, pp. 69–110.
  2. Donald G. Bloesch, Jesus Christ: Savior & Lord (Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 1997), 168.

When Was Abraham Justified? | Part 1

AbrahamWhen was Abraham justified? This might seem like a rather elementary question with an obvious answer: Abraham was justified when he believed the Lord and the Lord reckoned it to him as righteousness, which is recorded in Genesis 15:6. Certainly Paul’s use of this text in defense of justification by faith apart from works in Romans 4 and Galatians 3 confirms that Genesis 15:6 was the precise point of Abraham’s justification, doesn’t it? This is probably what most people assume. This is what I thought—prior to giving it some careful consideration.

I’m now convinced that Abraham was already justified prior to the events recorded at the beginning of Genesis 15. In this post I’d like to give some arguments in favor of this position, and in the next post I will answer objections and respond to potential problems.

As I see it, the main issue hinges on one central point:

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Köstenberger on NT Commentaries

Andreas Köstenberger comments on how frequently he is asked for New Testament commentary recommendations. He’s finally compiled a list, which will appear in a forthcoming book entitled, Invitation to Biblical Interpretation, which is part of the Invitation to Theological Interpretation series. The volume is a couple years away from publication, but he shares his list in the meantime. I love it when a man of Köstenberger’s caliber recommends commentaries. They quickly get added to my wishlist.

Here are his recommendations on Galatians—a book to which I’m giving focused attention for my dissertation.

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