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The Witness of Jesus

The Deity of Christ Edited by Christopher Morgan and Robert Peterson

This new volume in the Theology in Community series put out by Crossway in an excellent example of scholars, pastors, and teachers teaming up to write The Deity of Christ as it relates to the Scriptures, missions, theology, and church history. To begin, I thought the concise nature of the chapters lent itself to straightforward reading. Generally in a volume dedicated to a professor or dedicated to one specific idea, the essays tend to be solely academic in nature and are difficult to wade through. However, this volume was not difficult to dive into because of the short chapters and the various ways the authors handled their topics.

One of my absolute favorite sections in the book was the chapter by Raymond Ortlund Jr entitled "The Deity of Christ and the Old Testament." Ortlund, a PCA pastor, takes a look at the Old Testament witness in relationship to the deity of Christ and uses three categories as markers: one, OT passages inaccurately construed to reveal the deity of Christ, OT passages accurately construed to reveal the deity of Christ, and OT passages not clear enough to be certain one way or the other (40-59). We get a sense in this chapter of both the difficulty of handling the OT and the way Christians have sometimes overstated the case for the deity of Christ by using certain passages out of context. In talking about Micah 5:2, Ortlund writes "Deity is not the message. Authenticity is. God will bypass the many generations of corrupt failures on the throne of David, go all the way back, and restore the kingdom with another man after God's own heart" (58). Ortlund uses both the grammar of the text and the prophetic nature of Micah to place this text as pointing to Christ's birth and coming. In understanding Micah 5:2 this way, Ortlund does not downplay the significance of the text for Matthew, but rather wants to be careful not to miss the point that Messiah in God's eyes was `no afterthought in God's program' (57-58).

I also really enjoyed reading Andreas Kostenberger's chapter on the Deity of Christ in John's Gospel. Kostenberger, a NT scholar from Southeastern Baptist Seminary is one of the foremost authorities on the Gospel and writings of John. Early on in talking about the prologue to John's Gospel, Kostenberger writes, "The Son, while equally God, nonetheless is called to submit to the Father and to carry out the Father's mission rather than his own, independently conceived. This provides texture and structure to the Father-Son relationship with regard to their respective identities and commensurate authority" (101). Earlier, Kostenberger signals that the "One and Only Son" (monogenes) in John gives weight to the distinction between the Father and Son while still both sharing Deity. Understanding the roles of each person of the Godhead goes a great deal in seeing how each person of the Trinity complements one another. There is no blind subordination here but a humble submission by the Son to carry out the Father's work. Kostenberger draws out attention to the unique places in John that draw that the significance of the Deity of Christ in relationship to the roles of the Father and Son.

Lastly, the other contributions in this book are worth reading through also. The contribution of J. Nelson Jennings goes a long way in clearing the fog away from our eyes in looking at missions and the deity of Christ. Jennings carefully untangles the thorny idea of Christian missions and God's mission to the world in a discussion regarding the nature and history of mission (256-260). This book is a treasure house full of good material to go back and help in one's research, writing, preparation for ministry in the church and abroad. I hope this book goes a long way in helping the Church act confidently in proclaiming that Jesus is God throughout every area of life.

Thanks to Crossway for the review copy of this book.


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