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Veli-Matti Karkkainen: Trinity and Revelation

I appreciated the author’s sincere and transparent effort to foster true dialogue with other religions. I think his goal is proper both in method and goal. He correctly shuns oversimplification of other religions as well avoiding conflicts that are more apparent than real. I think readers will benefit from reading his reviews of the theologies of Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism as Kärkkäinen shows where Christians differ and areas where we may not.

There is much to consider in these pages.

I do think that God has revealed himself to other people and faiths, as Kärkkäinen suggests, assuming I understand him correctly. I think any theology of natural revelation must affirm such a view. My concern, however, with this line of thinking is that Kärkkäinen did not consider the possibility that Satan also reveals. If revelation is merely communication, then could we not also say that non-Christian religions can express the revelation of the demonic? This distinction is important because it would suggest that other religions are not just wrong in what they lack (theological privation) but also that they may have elements of positive error deliberately distorting the truth (i.e. the doctrine of demons). Unfortunately, Kärkkäinen did not engage that question, but I understand that demons will be addressed in volume 5.

In sum, this book is challenging. The author does not just repackage ideas that have been heard before, but carefully engaging issues from perspectives not typically addressed by systematic theologians. Readers should have a fair amount of theological background to fully appreciate and evaluate Kärkkäinen’s ideas. But make no mistake, there is much to consider in these pages.

Reviewed by Stephen M. Vantassel

 

Publisher’s page: https://www.eerdmans.com/Products/6854/trinity-and-revelation.aspx

Preview Trinity and Revelation: https://books.google.com/books/about/Trinity_and_Revelation.html?id=aybpAgAAQBAJ

 

See also the review of Christ and Reconciliation, Volume 1 of the Constructive Christian Theology for the Pluralistic World series: http://pneumareview.com/veli-matti-Kärkkäinen-christ-and-reconciliation/

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Category: In Depth, Winter 2018

About the Author: Stephen M. Vantassel, Ph.D. theology (Trinity Theological Seminary), M.A.T.S. Old Testament (Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary), B.S. Biblical Studies (Gordon College), is a tutor of theology at King’s Evangelical Divinity School in Broadstairs, U.K. and Assistant Editor for the Evangelical Review of Theology and Politics. His dissertation on the role of animals in Christian theology was published in expanded form in Dominion over Wildlife? An Environmental-Theology of Human-Wildlife Relations (Wipf and Stock, 2009). He lives with his wife in Lewistown, Montana. He regularly posts articles at kingsdivinity.academia.edu/StephenMVantassel.

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