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Paradox and Truth: Rethinking Van Til on the Trinity by Comparing Van Til, Plantinga, and Kuyper
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Paradox and Truth: Rethinking Van Til on the Trinity by Comparing Van Til, Plantinga, and Kuyper

3.53 of 5 stars 3.53  ·  rating details  ·  36 ratings  ·  14 reviews
More than 1,500 years after the foundational church councils, the doctrine of the Trinity is still as central and as puzzling to theologians as ever. Reformed theology has seen increasing calls for the Trinity to live at the center of Christian confession, prompting the need for a fuller biblical and practical understanding of the subject. In recent Reformed thought, Corne ...more
Paperback, 144 pages
Published June 1st 2003 by Canon Press
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Jacob Aitken
Smith's goal is to compare and contrast the recent arguments of “social Trinitarian” Cornelius Plantinga with the unique approach of Cornelius Van Til. Supposedly, traditional Trinitarianism is stagnant and the insights of these two can revive it.

The introduction is somewhat humorous because Smith (rightly) bemoans the fact that Evangelicals have ignored the Trinity for essentially of their history, and if you take away the doctrine of the Trinity for Evangelicals, nothing will change in their
A deceiving little paperback, at just 142 pages this book is short and gives the illusion that it will be a quick read. Not so! It is a book for careful reading and contemplation. Ralph Smith asserts that the Trinity is "the central and distinguishing Christian affirmation about God without which Christianity as such cannot exist."

Smith begins by introducing the three basic ideas of the Trinity, three persons in one, one person with three names (modalism), three persons who are all in a family (
Jared Mcnabb
Smith is attempting a development upon Van Til's trinitarianism. It seemed to me often unhelpful and uncompelling. He does not maintain the equal ultimacy of the unity and diversity in the Godhead that you find in Van Til. He also doesn't seem to grasp the importance of perichoresis for Van Til (see Survey of Christian Epistemology). Smith follows a reading of Augustine that has been discredited (See Nicea and its Legacy). Smith's understanding of covenant within the trinity leads to more questi ...more
Craig French
It's okay. Part of the problem, and this isn't just Ralph Smith, is that Van Til provided an interesting, though undeveloped, philosophical "solution" to the problem of the one and the many without interacting with Scripture nor explicitly orthodox formulations. I'm sure he affirmed the creedal statements, but that he never interacted with them as a launching pad underscores their relative unimportance for his project.

Smith seems to think the unity of the Trinity is based on covenant...this lead
Rick Davis
Good book. There were a few places where I was looking for more clarification, and I think that he pushes too hard against Aristotelian logic. (I think this happens with a strong Van Tillian antithesis in general.)However, I agree with Rev. Smith's thesis and think he does a good job of supporting it on the whole.

Full Review

Paradox and Truth: Rethinking Van Til On the Trinity by Ralph Smith

I have mixed feelings about this book. This book is academic and intended to have a specific and narrow ai
M.G. Bianco
In this book, Ralph Allan Smith begins what I think is a good and necessary conversation on the role of the Trinity in Christian thinking and worldview. He considers the Trinity from the perspectives of Plantinga, Augustine, Kuyper, and Van Til.

There were times when I wasn't sure I was fully grasping the import of his thoughts due to a lack of familiarity with Plantinga and others. Smith, however, does try to alleve this by quoting or explaining well what their points were. I believe he does a f
Jeff Irwin
On each side of the road there is always a ditch . In the Trinity debate these ditches are the heresies modalism and tritheism. Both attack the classic christian formula on logical grounds but ruin christianity in the process. Make God only One, and he ceases to be Love. Make God only three, and what you have is polytheism. As is usually the case, the orthodox position is straight down the middle. This is Van Tils position-we as creatures and sinful creatures at that, will never understand this ...more
Nov 20, 2013 John rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2013
Ralph Smith doesn't understand how so many theologians have ignored Van Til's work on the Trinity. He examines Van Til's understanding of the Trinity, compares and contrasts it to Cornelius Plantiga's 'social Trinity' and then adds Kuyper's covenantal understanding of the Trinity to demonstrate how by combining the best of the three thinkers that the theology of the Trinity is fully Reformed and answers the philosophical problem of 'the one and the many.'

This is a great, short, yet challenging w
This book is really great! He makes me hungry to read more Van Til and go back and read the Van Til that I read years ago to refresh my memory. He isn't really "rethinking" Van Til so much as standing on Van Til's shoulders to develop some really neat ideas about the nature of covenant in the light of trinitarian orthodoxy.

I only wish the book was longer. He could turn that last chapter into a whole book. Maybe this is just an introduction to a more in-depth study someone could do on this same t
Nick Batzig
Smith uses Van Til for his own twisted end. He tries to establish a doctrine for a covenant between the members of the Godhead in their being, rather than simply accepting a covenant of redemption made between the members of the Godhead in eternity for the salvation of his people. He abandons an orthodox covenant theology in favor of a "Federal Vision" type. He is the brains behind the Trinitarian theology in the FV movement. I do not recommend this book to anyone, ever!
JR McCravy
Smith accomplishes exactly what he sets out to do. He compares Plantinga's and Van Til's approaches to the Trinity, then fills in gaps in their thinking in the intra-Trinitarian covenantal elements. Pretty niche stuff but a helpful little read.
Clear writing, but he didn't really peak my interest in Van Til, Plantinga, or Kuyper. Maybe I'm not enough the systematic theologian though.
Excellent on Van Til, Platinga and Kuyper.
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Ralph Allan Smith (M.Div. Grace Theological Seminary, 1978). Pastor of Mitaka Evangelical Church since 1981; Director of Covenant Worldview Institute since 1988. Ralph and Sylvia married in 1976 and have been serving the Lord in Tokyo, Japan, since 1981.
More about Ralph Allan Smith...
Trinity and Reality: An Introduction to the Christian Faith Eternal Covenant: How the Trinity Reshapes Covenant Theology The Covenantal Kingdom The Baptism of Jesus the Christ The Covenantal Structure of the Bible: An Introduction to the Bible

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