Sunday, October 12, 2008

The nature of God

Collin Hansen at Christianity Today reports on a debate about the nature of the Trinity in "Anathemas All Around":
Four evangelical scholars delivered charges and counter-charges over the Trinity during an October 9 debate before about 450 people at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. The seminary's Carl F. H. Henry Center for Theological Understanding hosted a four-man debate over the question: Do relations of authority and submission exist eternally among the persons of the Godhead? ....

Wayne Grudem and Bruce Ware returned to the suburban Chicago seminary and argued the affirmative: relations of authority and submission do indeed exist among the persons of the Godhead. ....

Tom McCall...teamed up with Keith Yandell, philosophy professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, to offer a different position. ....

Both sides employed technical, nuanced arguments derived from Scripture with help from philosophy. Subsequent responses between the two sides brought greater clarity to the perspectives that separate them. Ware and Grudem argued that in the economic Trinity of the Bible (the three persons as seen in the outworking of the "economy" of salvation) we see the relations between the three as they always have been and will be. But Yandell countered that what sounds biblical from Ware and Grudem actually comes through a filter of Greek philosophy that obscures the meaning of the Incarnation and Pentecost.

Yet the crowd, which filled the TEDS chapel nearly to capacity, hung on the scholars' words for three and a half hours. Yandell shared that his colleagues at the University of Wisconsin would regard this debate as pointless, like arguing over how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. So would many evangelicals, I suspect. But as the evening progressed, the intensity of discussion reminded us why the early church fought with such prolonged fervor over the Trinity. What could be more exciting and more important than sharpening each other's understanding of the nature of God?

The magazine's website provides links to excerpts from each side's opening statement as well as a "liveblog" of the actual debate.

Anathemas All Around | Christianity Today | A Magazine of Evangelical Conviction
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