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

4.8 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"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 (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #108,005 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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This book is a must read for any pastor who seeks to understand the great gift of salvation in Christ Jesus as revealed in the person and work of Jesus Christ. McCall points out the modern theological trend of preaching a separated trinity on the cross, a trend that deviates greatly from the tradition of the early Church fathers. He economically describes the issues at hand and wets your appetite to dig deeper into this crucial theological topic. One slight warning though, if you are a Calvanist, chapter three might be a bit of an annoyance. McCall makes a case against determinism but doesnt quite make it to free will either. The question McCall asks in chapter three is extremly important, however, it is the weaker chapter of the book. But please do not let that hinder you from reading it anyway.
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I would recommend this book to ever Christian who loves the Lord as Savior, Comforter, and living God, to those who struggle with some portion of the trinitarian theology, and for those who struggle with the meaning of Jesus' cry from the Cross for you to understand the truth of that victory cry found within Psalm 22.
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McCall's approach to the broken-Trinity subject is profound. The attention he pays to the Scriptures and respect given to early Christians to accurately evaluate contemporary/modern understanding of the Gospel message makes it superb. Buy it.
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Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection is the central event in the Christian story. What we believe about what happens in this short period shapes everything else we believe. Little has been more confusing for many Christians than what happened when Jesus died.

When Jesus is on the cross, he cries out

My God, My God! Why have you forsaken me?

What did Jesus mean when he called out those words? How we answer that question informs a lot of what we believe: who we understand God to be, what our relationship with God looks like, how we live out our faith in the world.

Many Christians have heard that Jesus' statement means that the Trinity was broken in these moments. That God the Son became sin, so God the Father abandoned him. That because Jesus became our sin on the Cross, the Father poured all his wrath onto Jesus (instead of us), so now God can love us because his wrath has been satisfied.

All of those statements are completely, dangerously wrong.

In his excellent new book Forsaken, theology professor and pastor Thomas McCall comes to the Cross, arriving with a robust, fully-formed and orthodox Trinitarian theology. Looking at Jesus' death through the lens of the Trinity helps us to understand the God who rescues us more fully.

Dr. McCall arranges the book with four questions that take us through his argument clearly and succinctly:

1. Was the Trinity Broken?

In a word, No. McCall boils some complex and often-confusing theological positions on the nature of the Trinity down to accessible, understandable concepts.
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