The triune God of the gospel

kevin j. vanhoozer

"Evangelicals are gospel people''1

an introductory paradox: the difficult, diffident evangelical doctrine of god

Evangelicals are a people of the gospel (evangel). The good news about what God has done in Jesus Christ for the world presupposes two key theological truths: (1) God has acted (there is something good to report); (2) God has spoken (the news comes from God and so it is utterly reliable). There is no gospel, neither Christological content nor biblical form, apart from the speech and act of God. It therefore stands to reason that evangelicals enthusiastically affirm the God of the gospel, and on one level this is true.

A cursory examination of evangelical theology thus finds nothing exceptional to report: evangelicals agree with the orthodox consensus of the church that God exists, reveals himself in word and deed, and is able to accomplish his gracious purposes. The very logic of the gospel - the declaration that God enables believers to relate to God the Father in Jesus Christ through the Spirit - implies the divinity of the Son and Spirit as well. Hence evangelicals concur with the Trinitarian formula produced by the church fathers in 325 ad - the Nicene Creed - professing belief in one God: Father, Son, and Spirit.

One nevertheless detects a certain malaise in evangelical theology. Though evangelicals did not depart from orthodox affirmations, the doctrine of God languished through much of the twentieth century, mired in a deep funk. John Frame notes that "we live in an age in which the knowledge of God is rare''2 and David Wells laments the ''weightlessness of God'' in many contemporary churches.3 One important reason for this malaise was the tendency to treat the doctrine of the Trinity (when it was treated

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