Book Review: “Forsaken: The Trinity and the Cross, and Why it Matters” by Thomas H. McCall

FORSAKEN: THE TRINITY AND THE CROSS, AND WHY IT MATTERS. By Thomas H. McCall. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2012. Pp. 171. $20.00.

McCall’s primary concern is to critique the teaching (of Moltmann, but also many who follow him) that at the death of Christ there was a rupture in the Trinity. McCall argues that the Father only forsook Jesus in the sense that he allowed him to die, but he maintains that the unity of the Trinity could never be broken. McCall explains how the Trinity ‘matters’ because it shows that God does not forsake those he loves, with the result that for believers there is no condemnation, no defeat, and no despair. Along the way McCall includes helpful discussions of atonement theology, trinitarian theology, divine love and wrath, impassibility, simplicity, determinism, justification, and sanctification. McCall implicitly critiques some versions of penal substitution (although never explicitly mentioning penal substitution), preferring the christus victor theory and viewing Jesus’ death as a sin offering. McCall presents a clear description of the issues at stake (even for non-specialists), while both drawing on historic sources and giving readers a good sense of the contemporary discussion. One minor weakness of the book, however, is that when discussing justification, McCall advocates the forensic view without engaging with current biblical or theological critiques of this view. Overall, McCall offers readers a theological delight that is sure to inspire many scholars, preachers, and lay readers.

(As a fulfilment of copyright, I am required to say that this review will be published in Religious Studies Review)

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