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Which Trinity? Whose Monotheism?: Philosophical and Systematic Theologians on the Metaphysics of. Trinitarian Theology.

Which Trinity? Whose Monotheism?: Philosophical and Systematic Theologians on the Metaphysics of Trinitarian Theology. By Thomas H. McCail. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2010. ISBN 978-0-8020-6270-9. vii and 256 pages. Paper. 130.00.

Mark Mattes Des Monies, Iowa

McCall is an evangelical of the Arminian persuasion who teaches systematica at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerheld, 111. He approaches Trinitarian theology through the lens of analytic philosophy. This book is markedly erudite in breadth of scholarship and intensely guided by semantic and logical precision so highly valued by the analytic tradition.

The book is divided into three sections: (1) Which Trinity? Whose Monotheism? (2) The Kingdom of the Trinity (3) The Future of Trinitarian Theology, Chapter one outlines recent Trinitarian models such as (A) "social Trinitarianism," in which the Father, Son, and Spirit are three distinct centers of consciousness whose interrelationship forms a generic divine essence (41); (B) relative Trinitarianism which sees God as "an individual (rather than a society, or a complex entity made up of parts)" (109); and (C) Latin Trinitarianisfti in which the one divine substance and the three persons are Cod "three times over" (50). Chapter two especially focuses on Richard Bauckhams New Testament basis for triune theology, the perspective chat Second Temple Judaism was concerned primarily with Yah-wehs uniqueness as Creator and ruler oblivious to the metaphysical categories employed by later Christians and thus permitting Jesus a place in Yahweh's identity. In this light, McCall favors social Trinitarianism over its two rivals, noting however, that relative Trinitarianism has much to he commended.

In the next section, McCall critiques the work of Robert Jenson, Jurgen Moltmann, John Zizioulas, as well as Wayne Grudem and Bruce Ware. His critique of Jenson is masterly. Jensons claim that God is identical to his revelatory speech and action (129) makes God dependent on creation similar to the thinking of Hegel. Similar concerns arise for Moltmann's view of the Trinity defined as thoroughgoing perichoresis (each or the Trinitarian persons thoroughly indwelling the others). In Moltmann's Hegelian-inspired view, the fact that God can suffer becomes tantamount to the view that God must suffer. With respect to Grudems and Wares views of the Son's subordination to the Father within the trinity, McCall worries that if the Son is necessarily subordinate to the father, then such subordination as essential is hard to square with the homoousios doctrine, i.e., that the Son is of the same (not just similar) substance as the Father (178-180).

In conclusion, McCall sets an agenda for Trinitarian doctrine which includes commitment to monotheism, acceptance of the full divinity of the distinct persons, squaring with the New Testament, and that avoids merely generic or perichoretic unity (though perichoresis can help us understand God's purposes in creation). A robust view of the Trinity should be able to affirm God's redemptive action in light of the triune identity and purposes for creation (246-253).

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Author:Mattes, Mark
Publication:Currents in Theology and Mission
Article Type:Book review
Date:Dec 1, 2011
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