Book Review: One God in Three Persons

M52842Recently, the anthropological doctrines revolving around the complimentarity of male and female has been a subject of fierce debate within Evangelicalism. In the past decade or so, the debate has been taking a new form. So called egalitarians have been arguing that the uniform differences between men and women constitutes an ontological difference between the two sexes. So called complimentarians have responded by pointing to the eternal submission of the Son to the Father (ESS) demonstrating that functional submission does not equate to ontological subordination. One God in Three Persons is a collection of essays detailing the various arguments involved in this debate.

This book, edited by Bruce Ware and John Starke, pulls together some of the leading New Testament scholars. Due to the variety of authors, it is impossible to make general stylistic critiques. However, the book is well structured and free of technical and typographical problems.

Each essay focuses on a particular aspect of the debate. Whether it is a survey of the various exegetical proofs for ESS by Grudem, or a survey of the Patristic statements regarding eternal generation by Letham, the essays are thorough and approachable. While some collections of essays leave the reader wondering why a particular author was assigned a particular topic, this collection has clearly matched up proper scholars with appropriate topics.

Most valuable of all the essays was the contribution by Kyle Claunch titled “God is the Head of Christ.” One point I think is often missed in this debate is that the analogy of submission between husband/wife and the submission of Father/Son is tenuous due to the differences in the relationships. While the Father and Son (prior to the Incarnation) share a singular will, a husband and wife only ever have separate (albeit ideally harmonious) wills. Claunch gives the first convincing argument that I have read that takes this into account as he exegetes 1 Corinthians 11, while still maintaining the position that ESS gives us a model for non-ontological submission. While I ultimately disagree with his conclusions, his argument was well reasoned and theologically crisp.

Overall, the book is helpful for someone looking to understand the arguments of one side of the discussion. Hopefully, a similar work will be published by proponents of the opposing view in order to get a robust and scholarly discussion of the topic at hand.