Posted by: chuckbumgardner | January 20, 2010

Garrett, Systematic Theology, part 4: “God the Holy and Loving Father; The Trinity”

James Leo Garrett, Systematic Theology: Biblical, Historical, and Evangelical, 2 vols. (North Richland Hills, TX: BIBAL Press, 2000), 211-336.

Garrett responds to seven arguments for atheism, but surprisingly does not treat Romans 1:18-21 in his discussion of atheism.  God not only exists, he is personal and everywhere present.  Garrett organizes his treatment of the attributes of God in two major clusters: attributes more directly related to the OT emphasis of holiness, and attributes more directly related to the NT emphasis of love, with righteousness as a “bridge attribute” between the two (1:239).

God is holy, which for Garrett is best understood as being transcendent.  Around this central attribute are clustered God’s eternity, constancy, wisdom, knowledge, power, jealousy/anger/wrath, and glory.  In treating God’s knowledge, free will is briefly described and rebutted thus: “we must be careful not to place undue limits on God’s knowledge because of the limits of our human understanding of the issue” (1:257).  God is righteous, an attribute which partakes of both his holiness and love.  Around the central attribute of love are clustered God’s patience/forbearance, faithfulness, mercy/compassion/kindness, grace, and passibility (capacity to suffer).  Garrett also affirms God as Father against contemporary feminist protestations.

Garrett holds a traditional view of the Trinity: Scripture differentiates among the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, but recognizes all three as God.  Recognizing that the term “person” has shifted somewhat from the patristic connotation of “something less than full individuation,” he cautions against a tritheism which is fostered through the modern concept of the term “person” which “connotes self-consciousness and individuation” (324-26).


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