Tag Archives | Trinity

Two New Theology Books Now on My Wishlist

Concise Reformed DogmaticsP&R just published J. van Genderen & W. H. Velema’s Concise Reformed Dogmatics, which the publisher describes as “a crystallization of the best confessionally Reformed Dutch thought in a single, manageable English-language volume.” The translation is the merger of Gerrit Bilkes’s and Ed M. van der Maas’s separate English translations of the original 1992 Dutch edition, Beknopte Gereformeerde dogmatiek.

It is the product of a multistep process of comparing the two translations and combining their strengths. With an eye for clarity and theological integrity, a team of readers—including W. H. Velema, the lone surviving author, together with Lawrence W. Bilkes and Gerald M. Bilkes—checked the entire work.

One might be tempted to question if this nearly 1,000-page tome rightly bears the descriptor concise. Compared to many systematic theology books, 1,000 pages is by no means brief, but held to the standard of other Dutch works like those of Bavinck (3,024 pp.), Kuyper (3,486 pp.), and Vos (≈1,900 pp.), it is definitely on the smaller side.

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Wanted: A Dutch-to-English Translator

Abraham KuyperYesterday I stumbled across Kuyper’s dogmatic theology, Dictaten dogmatiek: College-dictaat van een der studenten, on Princeton’s digital online library. By the subtitle, it appears to be dictations from one of his students. I really wish I knew even enough Dutch to work through some of this with profit. Better yet, I wish I knew someone who knew Dutch and would be willing to translate his section on the Trinity for me: Hoofdstuk I. Het Dogma de Sancta Trinitate. It’s only 44 pages. Any takers?

Also, how about we get someone to translate the whole thing—all 3,486 pages of it—into English for print and digital publication?

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Does the McCall–Yandell Argument Work? Feinberg Says No

I commented briefly in the second half of this post on why I think that the McCall–Yandell argument fails. (To get up to speed on what that argument is, see my two previous posts here and here.) A couple of days ago I stumbled across a quote in John Feinberg’s No One Like Him that demonstrates nicely why that argument doesn’t succeed.

In the last section of his chapter on the Trinity, “Logic and the Doctrine of the Trinity,” Feinberg is responding to criticisms that challenge the logical coherency of the doctrine.

Timothy Bartel raises an objection that parallels the McCall–Yandell argument very closely, the only difference being which properties are in view. McCall and Yandell attacked the notions of authority and submission, but if their argument is applied consistently, it would have to encompass any properties that the three don’t share in common.

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Does Eternal Subordination Entail a Denial of Homoousion?

Shield of the TrinityIn tonight’s debate, McCall and Yandell tried to make the case that the eternal subordination of the Son to the Father entails a denial of homoousion.

The Argument

Here’s their argument:

  1. If the Son is eternally subordinate to the Father in all possible worlds, then the Son is necessarily subordinate to the Father.
  2. If the Son is necessarily subordinate to the Father, then the Son is essentially subordinate to the Father.
  3. Thus, the Son, as essentially subordinate to the Father, is of a different essence or nature than the Father, which entails a denial of homoousion.

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My Question for Dr. Yandell

My good friend Andy Naselli is sitting on the front row watching and live blogging the debate. He asked me if I wanted to ask a question, so I sent this:

If the Son is necessarily the Son and the Father is necessarily not the Son, then the Son is essentially the Son and the Father is essentially not the Son. Thus the Son is essentially different from the Father. Must you not deny homoousion on the basis of your own premises?

This parallels the central argument that Drs. Yandell and McCall were making—and shows its weakness:

If the Son is necessarily subordinate to the Father, then the Son is essentially subordinate to the Father. Thus, the Son is essentially different from the Father, which entails a denial of homoousion.

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Trinity Debate—Live

I mentioned the debate between Ware–Grudem and McCall–Yandell a while back. The subject of the debate is “Do relations of authority and submission exist eternally among the Persons of the Godhead?” I’m currently watching the debate live right now. You can tune in as well.

I don’t know if I’ll liveblog. We’ll see. But I probably will write a post later analyzing the debate.

Ware–Grudem vs. McCall–Yandell on the Trinity

Bruce Ware, Wayne Grudem, Thomas McCall, and Keith YandellA few weeks ago, a friend informed me of this upcoming debate between Bruce Ware & Wayne Grudem and Tom McCall & Keith Yandell. It’s very relevant to my dissertation topic, so I’m looking forward to hearing the results. Hopefully audio and transcripts will be made available.

I read a paper from Tom McCall several months ago on this subject and was not very satisfied with his approach. I think he oversimplifies matters and confuses categories (especially regarding the notion of essence—much like Kevin Giles does). I have had the privilege recently of interacting with Bruce Ware a little on these matters. While I don’t necessarily agree with everything as he states it and am still in the process of working through some of these issues, I’m far more comfortable with Ware’s approach.

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Gunton on Taxis in the Trinity

I know I’ve been doing a lot of quoting recently, but my blogging time is limited and quoting is easier than writing—not to mention that you’d probably rather read Gunton’s perspective on the Trinity than mine anyway.

I stumbled across this relevant bit from Colin Gunton in his The Promise of Trinitarian Theology, which I have as part of the Colin E. Gunton Theology Collection. (I sure do love having a digital library!)

It is often said that when the New Testament writers use the word ‘God’ simpliciter, they are referring to God the Father, so that Irenaeus is true to Scripture in speaking of Son and Spirit as the two hands of God, the two agencies by which the work of God the Father is done in the world. Indeed, Paul’s account of the progress of the risen and conquering Christ in 1 Corinthians 15 ends with the confession that when he hands the Kingdom over to the Father, God will be all in all (v. 28). Here, however, the priority of the Father is not ontological but economic. Such talk of the divine economy has indeed implications for what we may say about the being of God eternally, and would seem to suggest a subordination of taxis—of ordering within the divine life—but not one of deity or regard. It is as truly divine to be the obedient self-giving Son as it is to be the Father who sends and the Spirit who renews and perfects. Only by virtue of the particularity and relatedness of all three is God God.

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Barth on the Son’s Subordination to the Father

In Barth’s section on “God the Father” in volume one of his Church Dogmatics, he makes some interesting statements about the relationship between the Father and the Son.

He opens his discussion with this affirmation of the deity of the Son:

Who is the Lord and therefore the God to whom the Bible is referring? As we have seen already, it is typical of the Bible in both the Old Testament and the New that its answer to this question does not point us primarily to a sphere beyond human history but rather to the very centre of this history.

The answer is that at the climax of the biblical witness Jesus of Nazareth is the Kyrios. He is the One who approaches man in absolute superiority. He is the self-revealing God. (I, 1, 384)

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New NSBT Book on the Trinity

Father, Son and Spirit: The Trinity and John's GospelThere’s a new book on the Trinity that I’m looking forward to picking up in a couple of months. Andres J. Köstenberger and Scott R. Swain have coauthored Father, Son and Spirit: The Trinity and John’s Gospel, volume 24 in the New Studies in Biblical Theology (NSBT) series, edited by D. A. Carson. It’s 224 pages and due to be released sometime in July.

Here’s how Köstenberger summarizes the book:

Part One situates John’s trinitarian teaching within the context of Second Temple Jewish monotheism. Part Two examines the Gospel narrative in order to trace the characterization of God as Father, Son and Spirit, followed by a brief synthesis. Part Three deals more fully with major trinitarian themes in the Fourth Gospel, including its account of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, and mission. A final chapter discusses the significance of John’s Gospel for the church’s doctrine of the Trinity, and a brief conclusion summarizes some practical implications.

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