Working in a Christian bookstore has its advantages and disadvantages for someone like me. The advantage is I see a lot of books. The disadvantage is I see a lot of books. Let me explain. Prior to working at the bookstore I would often specialize my reading on a particular topic I was interested in. Now I often feel like I’m drinking from a fire hydrant just trying to keep abreast with what’s new and still feed my occasional topical interest. I read a lot of stuff that I would have never read before but do so to help my customers. So it’s nice when a book comes out which I feel can catch me up on some of the most current thinking on a particular topic. Such is the case with a new book on the Trinity called Which Trinity? Whose Monotheism?: Philosophical and Systematic Theologians on the Metaphysics of Trinitarian Theology by Thomas H. McCall.
This book scratches my philosophical itch when it comes to the vitally important doctrine of the Trinity. According to the catalog description,
“McCall creatively engages such philosophers of religion as Richard Swinburne and Brian Leftow and such influential theologians as Jürgen Moltmann, Robert Jenson, and John Zizioulas. Among all the currently available books on the doctrine of the Trinity, no other book brings analytic philosophers of religion into such direct conversation with mainstream theologians on this score.”I’ve scanned a good part of it and am very impressed with what McCall has done. Here are the chapter titles:
Section One: Which Trinity? Whose Monotheism?
1. Which Trinity? The Doctrine of the Trinity in Contemporary Philosophical Theology
2. Whose Monotheism? Jesus and His Abba
3. Doctrine and Analysis
Section Two: The Kingdom of the Trinity
4. “Whoever Raised Jesus from the Dead”: Robert Jenson on the Identity of the Triune God
5. Moltmann’s Perichoresis: Either Too Much or Not Enough
6. “Eternal Functional Subordination”: Considering a Recent Evangelical Proposal
7. Holy Love and Divine Aseity in the Theology of John Zizioulas
Section Three: The Future of Trinitarian Theology
8. Moving Forward: Theses on the Future of Trinitarian Theology
This book is not for beginners and the better grasp you have of philosophy the more you will get from it. McCall calls attention to the chasm that exists between those working in systematic theology and those addressing the same issues in analytic philosophy. The former show an almost complete unawareness of the work of the latter and when they do it is often with great suspicion. The gap is unfortunate and McCall wants to bring to the forefront some of the finest thinking that has come from those working in analytic philosophy and theologians who have an appreciation for the discipline of philosophy as it impacts theology. McCall writes as a theologian and his effort is to bridge the gap between these two disciplines. He makes it clear he is not writing a comprehensive overview or trying to have the last word. I read with great interest McCall’s description of William Lane Craig’s and J.P. Moreland’s formulation of Social Trinitarianism and the objections to it by Brian Leftow, Dale Tuggy and others. Philosophy lovers are going to eat this up and theologians should give a close ear because there are some important conversations going on and we can only benefit from it.
Which Trinity? Whose Monotheism? has 256 pages and sells for $30.00. It is an Eerdmans publication.
Thomas H. McCall is associate professor of biblical and systematic theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Deerfield, Illinois, and coeditor of Philosophical and Theological Essays on the Trinity.