Forsaken: The Trinity and the Cross, and Why It Matters, By Thomas H. McCall
  • Length: 171 pages
  • Dimensions: 5.5 × 8.25 in
  • Published: March 16, 2012
  • Imprint: IVP Academic
  • Item Code: 3958
  • ISBN: 9780830839582

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"My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?"

How should a Christian interpret this passage? What implications does the cross have for the trinitarian theology? Did the Father kill the Son?

Theologian Thomas McCall presents a trinitarian reading of Christ's darkest moment--the moment of his prayer to his heavenly Father from the cross. McCall revisits the biblical texts and surveys the various interpretations of Jesus? cry, ranging from early church theologians to the Reformation to contemporary theologians. Along the way, he explains the terms of the scholarly debate and clearly marks out what he believes to be the historically orthodox point of view. By approaching the Son's cry to the Father as an event in the life of the Triune God, Forsaken seeks to recover the true poignancy of the orthodox perspective on the cross.

"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

"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


1. Was the Trinity Broken? The Father, the Son and Their Cross
2. Did the Death of Jesus Make It Possible for God to Love Me? Righteous Wrath, Holy Love and the Heart of the Triune God
3. Was the Death of Jesus a Meaningless Tragedy? Foreknowledge, Fulfillment and the Plan of the Triune God
4. Does It Make a Difference? The Brokenness of Humanity and the Unbroken Work of the Triune God
Conclusion: A Personal Theological Testimony
Name Index
Scripture Index


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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.