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The Battle for the Trinity

ISBN: 9781579106928

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In The Battle for the Trinity, Donald G. Bloesch tackles the controversial issues surrounding the language we use to describe God, and how these are among most divisive issues facing the church in the twentieth century. Should God be addressed as Father, Mother, or Parent? Should Jesus be referred to primarily as the Son of God or the Child of God? Did God really reveal himself definitively in the person of his Son Jesus Christ? Bloesch contends that how we speak about God embodies the very core of Christianity and how we ultimately understand the biblical and historical meaning of the Trinity.

The debates surrounding the doctrine of God are many, and Bloesch urges the church to respond to the concerns of women that the sacred carries both masculine and feminine dimensions. Bloesch emphasizes that the God of the Bible is not described in masculine terms exclusively, and we err in our failure to recognize it. If Christianity is to remain “genuinely Christian,” these controversial issues must be dealt with in such a manner that will preserve the full historical and biblical understanding of the Trinity.

For more by Donald G. Bloesch, see Select Works of Donald G. Bloesch (9 vols.).

Resource Experts
  • Critically assess how God is referred to in modern Christianity
  • Learn that how we speak about God embodies the core of Christianity
  • Understand that God is not described exclusively in masculine terms

Top Highlights

“Bloesch believes that feminist resymbolization of Christianity is leading to a new form of Gnosticism and of ancient Near Eastern goddess and fertility religion. I am sure that much of feminist theology is a return to Baalism. I am much less sure about its parallels with Gnosticism. But one thing is certain—many women, in their dedication to the feminist movement, are being slowly wooed into a new form of religion, widely at variance with the Christian faith.” (Pages xi–xii)

“He is not a being alongside other beings, but the being who is the ground and center of all other things, the almighty Creator of all that exists.” (Page 30)

“In order to realize more fully what is happening, perhaps some theologians and biblical scholars need to imagine more realistically the depth of the hurt suffered by women in this country at the present time. The feminist movement has now gone far beyond its origins in the early suffrage movement, the civil rights movement of the sixties, and the initial impetus given to it by Betty Friedan’s book, The Feminine Mystique. Modern American women now smart under not only unequal pay and inferior social status. They have come to sense that their struggle now has to do with their very being and purpose for being. Their hurt is no longer functional but ontological, no longer sociological but theological. And the result is that they are now acting and thinking ontologically and theologically.” (Page xii)

“The debate in the church today is not primarily over women’s rights but over the doctrine of God. Do we affirm a God who coexists as a fellowship within himself, that is, who is trinitarian, or a God who is the impersonal or suprapersonal ground and source of all existence? Do we believe in a God who acts in history, or in a God who simply resides within nature? Are we committed to a God who saves the world by a sacrificial act of undeserved compassion, or a God who moves the world by the lure of his magnetic love (the God of process theology)? Do we believe in a God who created the world out of nothing or in a God whose infinite fecundity gave rise to a world that is inseparable from his own being? Do we affirm a God of the heights or a God of the depths?” (Page 11)

This book should be (and I hope will be) the last word on the subject. It critiques feminism - but only in regard to the repercussions attending the feminist rejection of the Bible’s own God-language. The topic, of course, invites passionate polemicism, but Bloesch’s book is not that. Here is quite dispassionate, entirely respectful, fully researched, finely reasoned, theologically insightful demonstration to the effect that any change of that language can spell nothing other than the destruction of the faith it was intended to express. From here on, any and all discussion of the issue should start with, and address itself to, this book.

—Vernard Eller, author, The Mad Morality

  • Title: The Battle for the Trinity: The Debate over Inclusive God-Language
  • Author: Donald G. Bloesch
  • Publisher: Wipf and Stock
  • Print Publication Date: 2001
  • Logos Release Date: 2016
  • Pages: 164
  • Language: English
  • Resources: 1
  • Format: Digital › Logos Research Edition
  • Subjects: Bible › Evidences, authority, etc; Feminism › Religious aspects--Christianity; God (Christianity); Language question in the church; Trinity; Incarnation
  • ISBNs: 9781579106928, 1579106927
  • Resource Type: Monograph
  • Metadata Last Updated: 2022-09-29T22:03:10Z

Donald G. Bloesch (1928-2010) earned his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago and was professor of theology emeritus at Dubuque Theological Seminary in Dubuque, Iowa. He did postdoctoral work at the universities of Oxford, Tübingen and Basel. He wrote numerous books, including Faith and Its Counterfeits, Evangelical Theology in Transition, Theological Notebook: Volume 3, Essentials of Evangelical Theology, The Future of Evangelical Christianity, The Struggle of Prayer, Spirituality Old New, Freedom for Obedience and the seven-volume Christian Foundations series. He also served for a time as president of the Midwest Division of the American Theological Society.


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  1. Glenn Crouch

    Glenn Crouch


    I do enjoy reading Bloesch, and I do enjoy reading books that defend the Trinity. So probably not a big surprise that I enjoyed this book. I appreciated that the Author correctly (in my opinion) separated the inclusive language use in modern Scripture Translation between "God Language" and general situations. I don't have any problem with Paul addressing "Brothers and Sisters" rather than "Brothers", for example, but I struggle to see good arguments for references to God as "Father", being changed to "Mother" or "Parent". This book is only dealing with the proposal of inclusive language when it comes to referring to God, and in particular to the persons of the Trinity. The Author does not ignore the various Feminine aspects of God throughout Scripture, nor does he try to argue that God is male. Rather that God has revealed himself using these masculine terms, whilst incorporating the feminine aspects of his nature. Not surprisingly, the Author does a better job at this then I do in my summary. Examination of various proposals and arguments from Feminist Quarters, as well as from Process Theology are well handled, and gave me much to think about. The Author's examination of the German Christians during the rise and rule of National Socialism was quite enlightening. I think his warning to the Evangelical Church of the 21st Century is quite valid, and he carefully avoids falling into either a "conspiracy theory" approach, nor into "throwing the baby out with the bath water" approach. Even if we disagree with the Author's analysis of various groups, or with his conclusions, I believe he does raise many good issues for us to think about.


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