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Forsaken: The Trinity and the Cross, and Why It Matters Paperback – April 16, 2012

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Editorial Reviews


"Forsaken is an excellent book and holds great promise for a variety of readers and teaching venues. It is not only user-friendly and informative, but will provide plenty of grist for the proverbial mill of future discussions." (David D. Feiser, Trinity Journal, December 2013)

"Though it comes from an academic press, it is actually a work of popular theology. McCall ends with a moving epilogue about his own earthly father’s death in the light of the foregoing four chapters of theological truth. Time after time, this book combines the theological with the practical, consistently delivering (as the title promises) 'why it matters.'" (World Magazine, October 20, 2012)

". . . Its brevity, clarity and balanced perspective make Forsaken worth reading." (Jeff Haanen, Christianity Today, June 2012)

"This is a remarkable book. With marvelous clarity and economy, McCall takes us on a journey across a landscape of biblical, historical, philosophical and theological trails that thrills the mind, warms the heart and draws us into the life of God. This is a rare achievement worthy of manifold imitation." (William J. Abraham, Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University)

"I like the way that Tom McCall does theology. He is a genuine trinitarian. The God that he sees revealed in the crucifixion of Jesus is totally and richly trinitarian, three persons who live in interpersonal, other-oriented holy love because the divine being that they in unicity share is itself that same other-oriented love. The incarnation, the crucifixion, the resurrection of Christ and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost are God's response to the creatures' determination to separate themselves from loving communion with their Maker. The trinitarian God wants his creatures to be in his life when they do not want him to be in theirs. So in Christ he entered into our separation to make it possible for us to be brought back into participation in his interpersonal life of love. As Paul said, this God is pro nobis! Only a trinitarian God could be that. Tom sees all of this. I found myself wanting joyously to worship. My prayer? 'Lord, let Tom give us more!'" (Dennis Kinlaw, founder of The Francis Asbury Society)

"Forsaken treats some deep topics in gospel teaching about God and the works of God with economy, clarity, analytical rigor and spiritual penetration. This is a compelling reflection on matters at the heart of Christian faith." (John Webster, professor of systematic theology, University of Aberdeen)

"By addressing the thorny question of how we speak well of God given Jesus' cry of dereliction, Thomas McCall's Forsaken offers not only a welcome but also an indispensable contribution to theology proper. He challenges much modern theology that sets God against God and implicitly or explicitly presents a broken Trinity that inclines toward a denial of essential Christian teachings such as God's simplicity and impassibility. He accomplishes this through a careful biblical and theological argument that is faithful to Scripture and trinitarian doctrine. Generously confronting this modern inclination, he persuasively demonstrates it is misguided and unnecessary. In the process he offers a beautiful and truthful doctrine of God worthy of the triune God Christians confess. Careful readers of this book will avoid tempting but misguided modern theological confusions." (D. Stephen Long, Marquette University)

About the Author

Thomas H. McCall (PhD, Calvin Seminary) is professor of biblical and systematic theology and director of the Carl F. H. Henry Center for Theological Understanding at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois. He is the author of Which Trinity? Whose Monotheism? Philosophical and Systematic Theologians on the Metaphysics of Trinitarian Theology, Forsaken: The Trinity and the Cross, and Why It Matters and coeditor (with Michael C. Rea) of Philosophical and Theological Essays on the Trinity.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 171 pages
  • Publisher: IVP Academic (April 16, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0830839585
  • ISBN-13: 978-0830839582
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #878,470 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Abram Kielsmeier-Jones on August 5, 2012
Format: Paperback
"My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"

"Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you."

"I and the Father are one."

Wondering how these three verses of Scripture fit together? I often have. Cognitive dissonance finally got the better of me, and I decided I should try to think through this one a little more deeply. To that end I read Thomas H. McCall's Forsaken: The Trinity and the Cross, and Why It Matters. (Thanks to IVP for the free review copy, in exchange for an unbiased review.)

First, the very short summary of my review, if you want to cut to the chase and head off and do something else after this next paragraph.

McCall tackles some difficult questions: "Did God forsake Jesus [on the cross]? Did the Father turn his back on the Son in rage? Was the Trinity ruptured or broken on that day?" His answers and arguments are rooted in Scripture, the history of interpretation of that Scripture, and are consistently compelling. McCall really helped me through my own struggles to grasp some of these questions, leading me to a fuller understanding of the life of the Trinity and the relationship between its persons, particularly in terms of what happened on the cross. And he spells out the implications of his assertions beautifully. God is not divided, he concludes, but God--all of God--is for us. So we can rejoice and rest secure in that. Five stars, no doubt.

McCall writes "not for other scholars...but for pastors, students and friends--indeed, for anyone genuinely interested in moving toward a deeper understanding of God's being and actions." Forsaken is heavy theological lifting for a non-scholar (and not lightweight for a scholar, either), but the effort is well worth it.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A. Omelianchuk on August 31, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I cannot remember the last time I read a theology book I so thoroughly enjoyed. Perhaps it is because of receiving training in philosophy or being overexposed to certain (overrepresented) segments of the literature, the fact remains: I have become picky if not an outright crank. But as I finished up Thomas H. McCall's Forsaken: The Trinity and the Cross, and Why It Matters I became reacquainted with that old feeling of excitement, passion, and most importantly, reverence for a discipline I used to immerse myself in without abandon. If you don't know about McCall, you should. After reading this book it is easy to see why he is considered to be a rising star (hailing from the Arminian tradition no less) as he deftly weaves knowledge and insight from philosophical, historical, and biblical theology.

While it no doubt is derived from his more scholarly work on the Trinity, Forsaken appears to be the results of a course taught at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, a course that surveyed contemporary issues in Christology. The central question he addresses is this: what does Jesus' cry of dereliction mean? When Jesus said "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" was the perfect fellowship of the Trinity `broken'? Did God the Father express the full extent of his wrath on his Son by `separating' him from the glory of God? Did God `kill his Son' so that he could properly love us? McCall's book is a serious attempt to answer these questions, and he comes to some surprising conclusions.

McCall contends that the fellowship between the Son and the Father was not broken on the cross. Part of his argument takes the form of a reductio: suppose it is the case that the Father truly "forsook" the Son. Then it appears the doctrine of the Trinity is false.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By James R. V. Matichuk on May 17, 2012
Format: Paperback
The cross is the Triune God's way of addressing human sinfulness and reconciling the world to Godself. Yet theologians and popular preachers make certain inferences which undermine a robust doctrine of the Trinity. In Forsaken: The Trinity and the Cross, and Why it Matters, Thomas McCall (associate professor of biblical and systematic theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) aims at answering some of the thorny questions people ask when they consider the cross and the Trinity. The title comes in reference to Christ's cry on the cross, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" and is the subject of the first chapter. McCall asks what can we and should we infer from this cry and how do we understand this in light of contemporary scholarship, patristic and historical theology and attention to the actual text.

I really like McCall's approach of taking popular questions which we've all encountered (or asked!) and addressing them theologically. Although this may make this a somewhat lengthy post, let me walk you through each chapter before concluding with some general reflections on the book:

Chapter 1- "Was the Trinity Broken? -The Father, the Son and Their Cross- How are we to understand Christ's cry of dereliciton? Does it mean total desperation and desertion of the Son by the Father? Was the Trinity completely ruptured? McCall points to contemporary theologians and biblical scholars which conclude that Christ was completely abandoned by the Father. But McCall reads these contemporary conclusions against traditional readings (Patristic and Medieval sources) and observes that traditionally, these words have been understood, not as a broken relationship within the Trinity, but as the `Father forsaking the Son to this death for us and for our salvation.
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