Thomas H. McCall, Forsaken: The Trinity and the Cross, and Why It Matters.Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2012. ISBN: 978-0-8308-3958-2. 171 pages.
Dr. Vic Reasoner
THE ARMINIAN MAGAZINE. Issue 2. Fall 2012. Volume 30.
Date Posted Jan., 2013
Tom McCall raises appropriate questions about the "broken Trinity" interpretation of Matthew 27:45-46 and Mark 15:34. Was this a cry of dereliction? Did the Father abandon the Son? Was the Trinity broken?
While this is a popular contemporary interpretation, McCall demonstrates that this was not the traditional interpretation. Jesus was not cursed, nor did he become sin. If Christ were a sinner, then he himself would need salvation. Despite the popular claim that Jesus was the greatest sinner, in him was no sin at all. Thus, the better interpretation of 2 Corinthians 5:21 is that Christ became a sin offering.
Since the Father is father in the sense that he eternally generates the Son, if the Father rejected the Son he would not longer be the Father. Roger Nicole said, "There can never be a division in the Godhead."Adam Clarke wrote, "Nor could he be forsaken of God, in whom dwelt all the fullness of the Godhead bodily." How could God withdraw from God? Thomas Oden wrote, "His cry from the cross did not imply a literal abandonment of the Son by the Father."
While Psalm 22 opens with the haunting words in question, it moves to affirmations of hope and faith. By v 24 we find a strong affirmation that God has not despised the suffering of the afflicted one. The union of Christ with humanity was unbroken and his relationship with the Father was also unbroken. McCall argues that the Son's relationship to the Father matters for our hope in the gospel. The unbroken work of the triune God is the hope for the brokenness of humanity.
This discussion becomes a starting point in which McCall evaluates other doctrines in light of the doctrine of the unbroken Trinity. He argues that the Trinity is for us. McCall does not discount the wrath of God against our sin. But God's holy love moved him to offer Christ as an atoning sacrifice for our sin. Thus, we cannot conceive of a breach in the Trinity between the wrath of the Father and the love of the Son. Nor is it accurate to declare that God killed his son.
The victory of the cross implies more than a legal justification. It provides a real sanctification. The will of the Father, the provision of the Son, and the continuing work of the Holy Spirit are an unbroken dynamic providing the believer real victory. Thus, McCall argues over six pages that Romans 7 does not describe Christian experience.
In the conclusion McCall celebrates the life of the best man he ever knew - his own father. God took him as a kid without a chance in life and liberated him from the bondage of sin Now his son reflects on that life theologically. The triune God is radically against sin but radically for the sinner. It is because the actions of the Trinity are always undivided that we can live and die in victory.