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Retrieving Eternal Generation Paperback – November 21, 2017
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Retrieving Eternal Generation is an encouraging display of how biblical studies,church history, and systematic theology can work together to the glory ofGod, recovering from the past and commending for today the confessionof Jesus Christ as the and ldquo;only begottenand rdquo; Son of the Father, Light from Light,very God from very God. -- Kevin J. Vanhoozer, Research Professor of Systematic Theology, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
In contemporary Trinitarian theology, conservative Christians have alltoo often been moving in one of two directions: either inadvertentlyundermining the full divinity of the Son--therebyturning Christianityinto a unitarianism--orinadvertently distinguishing the divine persons inways that are logically tritheistic. In response, Swain and Sanders have puttogether an important and profound volume whose timing simply couldnot be better. -- Matthew Levering, James N. and Mary D. Perry Jr. Chair of Theology, Mundelein Seminary
Retrieving Eternal Generation is a vital gift to evangelical theology. The variousauthors provide stimulating biblical exegesis, hermeneutical breadth,historical expertise, and theological depth. Respectfully but courageouslyengaging the challengers of this classic doctrine, they transcend polemicsto contribute fresh dogmatic insight. I will be referring to several of theseessays again and again. -- Daniel J. Treier, Knoedler Professor of Theology, Wheaton College Graduate School
The Christian teaching of the eternal generation of the Son has from thebeginning engendered detailed scrutiny and fierce opposition, and again inthe present, the doctrine is causing great controversy. By way of response,Swain and Sanders have gathered together for this volume a range of expertsfrom the fields of biblical exegesis, church history, and systematic theologyto consider this teaching in detail. The result is a powerful and dynamicdefence of the doctrine, insisting vigorously upon its scriptural, traditional,and dogmatic importance. At a time of much doctrinal diversity and uncertainty,this book lucidly sets out a salutary and welcome account of thisvenerable teaching and of its central significance for faithful Christian belief. -- Paul T Nimmo, King’s Chair of Systematic Theology, University of Aberdeen
Retrieval is an important part of the task systematic theology faces today.In Retrieving Eternal Generation, Scott Swain and Fred Sanders, along withtheir fellow contributors, render a great service to the church and theology.In the midst of a fierce and sometimes confused debate over the doctrineof the Trinity, this excellent collection of essays provides a careful biblical,historical, and conceptual analysis that helps uncover the profound richnessof the classic understanding of the Sonand rsquo;s eternal generation from the Father.Retrieving Eternal Generation brings together some of the best of biblical,patristic, and doctrinal theology in a convincing case for a doctrine thatis unjustly accused of being overly metaphysical or Greek, among otherdeprecating terms. It shows that, to the contrary, this doctrine is vital forproper confession of the triune God. -- Dolf te Velde, assistant professor of systematic theology, Theological University Kampen
It is essential to our true understanding of the triune God that we be clearabout the biblical and dogmatic basis for our confession. This book bringstogether an impressive array of world-class theologians whose Scholarshipis matched by their godliness addressing one of the key components of thattask; the basis of our knowledge of relations in God. -- Dr. Liam Goligher, senior minister, Tenth Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia, PA
The creedal doctrine that the Son of God was and ldquo;begotten of the Fatherbefore all worldsand rdquo; is a notion that is often misunderstood or else malignedby many contemporary theologians. In this context, Swain and Sanders havebrought together an impressive collection of essays from across the theologicaldisciplines in order to elucidate and defend this linchpin Trinitariandoctrine. The bookand rsquo;s coherence lies not only in the sum of its parts but alsoin the synthetic nature of its individual chapters. This is retrieval theologyat its best--carefulin its treatment of the historical sources and relevant inits theological import. -- R. Lucas Stamps, assistant professor of Christian studies, Anderson University
About the Author
Fred Sanders (PhD, Graduate Theological Union) is professor of theology in the Torrey Honors Institute at Biola University in La Mirada, California. He is author of numerous books including The Triune God in the New Studies in Dogmatics series; The Deep Things of God: How the Trinity Changes Everything; and Dr. Doctrines’ Christian Comix. He is coeditor of Jesus in Trinitarian Perspective: An Introductory Christology and Retrieving Eternal Generation. Fred is a core participant in the Theological Engagement with California’s Culture Project and a popular blogger at The Scriptorium Daily.
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I’ll cut right to the chase: the book is worth the price for Charles Lee Irons’s chapter alone. He argues very convincingly for the historical translation of the Greek μονογενής (monogenēs) as “only begotten” over and against the more recent scholarly consensus “only one of its/his kind”. While this doesn’t by itself prove eternal generation, it sets our minds greatly at ease that “generation” is at least an appropriate Bible word to use for the eternal “from-ness” or “of-ness” of the Son.
Though Irons’s chapter is arguably the most important contribution, I was pleased to find something valuable and convincing in every single chapter. I can’t mention them all here, but I particularly enjoyed Swain’s chapter on divine names, D.A. Carson’s chapter on John 5:26, Lewis Ayres’s chapter on the writings of Origen, Keith E. Johnson’s chapter on the writings of Augustine, Mark Makin’s chapter on philosophical models of eternal generation, and Sanders’s chapter on eternal generation and soteriology.
I commend the book to anyone looking to deepen and sharpen their understanding of trinitarian theology, and especially those who aren’t sure whether to hold onto or ditch the traditional relations of origin in light of some new idea like social trinitarianism, egalitarianism, or EFS/ERAS. I was more or less persuaded by the EFS/ERAS view but I’m happy to report reading this book has brought me squarely back into the classical eternal generation camp. And that it changed one’s mind is, perhaps, the highest praise one can give to any book.
Retrieving Eternal Generation presents the multifaceted approach needed to establish the biblical necessity of the doctrine of eternal generation for contemporary evangelical theology. Retrieving Eternal Generation is separated into three parts: (1) Biblical Reasoning, (2) Historical Witnesses, and (3) Contemporary Statements. The contributors include D. A. Carson, Charles Lee Irons, R. Kendall Soulen, Michael Allen, and more. Following a brief introduction by Sanders and Swain, there are seven essays focused on building a biblical basis for the doctrine of eternal generation. In this section, the reader discovers three essays that explore aspects eternal generation in the Old Testament and four in the New Testament. The following five essays are historically motivated and trace the conviction of eternal generation from Origen to Karl Barth. The final segment has three theologically oriented essays that bridge the gap between the Bible and history to theological reflection. The volume closes with a number of indexes to help for further reference.
The importance of Retrieving Eternal Generation cannot be overstated. As Sanders and Swain articulate in the introduction, “it is not enough to say that the Son is God; we must see that he is God the Son, not just God in general. Sonship, or eternal generation, is what gives both form and content to the relation between the Father and the Son: the relation has the form of fromness and the content of filiality” (p. 17). The weight of this reality is demonstrated in the initial section of the book and then carried through with clarity into the subsequent sections. The initial section is also the highpoint in the book, in my opinion. Each essay in this initial section transmits its own importance. Nevertheless, the essay on John 5:26 as the interpretive crux of eternal generation by D. A. Carson and the essay on the “only begotten” in the Fourth Gospel by Charles Lee Irons are among the finest in the volume. The shortcomings of the volume are discovered in the variegated nature of the essays and the narrowness of content that occasionally overlooks a fuller portrait of the importance of the doctrine of eternal generation. This is trivial in contrast to the tremendous value the readers will find in Retrieving Eternal Generation.
Retrieving Eternal Generation edited by Fred Sanders and Scott R. Swain is a fascinating set of essays that is both immanent and timely in the context of contemporary evangelicalism. Eternal generation is an inseparable reality of the core convictions of the Christian faith. The thought of eternal generation somehow becoming divorced from the life and wellbeing of the identity of the Christian confession is unimaginable and Retrieving Eternal Generation is a clear example of the need that exists—a need for a doctrinal conviction that is rooted in the Christian Scriptures and expressed in the history of God’s people. If you’re looking for a book that will ignite your heart with a passion for biblical truth that matters, then Retrieving Eternal Generation comes highly recommended.
Is Christ not both derived in humanity but underived in Deity? YOU make up words without knowledge and counsel to defend a creed that is NOT found in scripture, you would be better off if you just stopped and read scripture out loud, and exegetes proverbs 8.22f and let the word of God speak for itself. Christ is not a generated Deity!