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Kevin Giles: The Eternal Generation of the Son

 

Kevin Giles, The Eternal Generation of the Son: Maintaining Orthodoxy in Trinitarian Theology (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2012), 270 pages including indices, ISBN 9780830839650.

What this reviewer sees in Kevin Giles’ The Eternal Generation of the Son is a carefully reasoned presentation of what is inherent, or implied within John 1:1 and also in Second Corinthians 5:19, and retaining what is there regarding the person of Jesus in Christian doctrine. The key phrases are “In the beginning was the Word “(John 1:1) and “namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself” (2Corinthians 5:19). There is an implied or inherent eternality in both the Fourth Gospel and in Paul’s second letter to the Church in Corinth.

Giles first sets forth the biblical warrant for “the eternal” generation of Jesus as suggested by “in the beginning was the Word” and also the uniqueness of Jesus as the Word made flesh through whom God reconciled the world to Himself. He then recounts how succeeding Christians from the earliest apologists through the Nicene fathers, Athanasius, Basil of Caesarea, Gregory of Nyssa, and Gregory Nazianzus, to Augustine and Thomas Aquinas and eventually the Reformers of the 16th century preserved the understanding of Jesus as “eternal” as well unique. This is meticulously done through copious citations from original documents relative to Justin, Athanasius, the Capadocians (Basil, Gregory of Nyssa, and Gregory Nazianzus), Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, Calvin, and other of the reformers. They are presented in opposition to Arius, Eunomius, and those who thought otherwise in successive years by maintaining that Jesus is subordinate to God the Father such as Servetus and Socinius in the sixteenth century. Giles singles out Wayne Grudem and Bruce Ware as twentieth-century subordinationists.

The idea of “eternal generation” is drawn from God’s eternality and His entry within the realm of time in the person of Jesus. Giles noted how many of the 4th century creeds used the Greek word gennao to express the eternal nature of God in His Christ, Jesus, and monogenes to express the uniqueness in Jesus. This reviewer cannot stress enough the painstaking nature of Gile’s apologetic effort in an effort to retain and maintain an orthodox understanding of Jesus relation to God as Father within the time-honored Trinitarian tradition.

Giles supports his argument for maintaining and retaining the “eternal generation” of the “Sonship” of Jesus by not only referencing citations in the Bible but also by a “roll-call” from the past to the present. He regards Athanasius as “one of the greatest theologians of all time” (p. 118). He progresses from Augustine to Aquinas to the major reformers, the Puritans John Owen and John Owen, the Swiss-Italian Francis Turretin, Moses Stuart, and Samuel Miller in America, and the later figures of William G.T. Shedd, Louis Berkhof and Herman Bavinck, Karl Barth, David Cunningham, and lastly, Robert Letham who incidentally wrote a forward to Giles.

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Category: In Depth, Spring 2014

About the Author: Woodrow E. Walton, D.Min. (Oral Roberts University School of Theology and Missions), B.A. (Texas Christian University), B.D. [M.Div.] (Duke Divinity School), M.A. (University of Oklahoma), is a retired Seminary Dean and Professor of biblical, theological and historical studies. An ordained Assemblies of God minister, he and his wife live in Fort Worth, Texas. Walton retains membership with the Evangelical Theological Society, American Association of Christian Counselors, American Society of Church History, American Academy of Political Science, and The International Society of Frontier Missiology.

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