* Wedding rich theological insight with practical application, this new volume in the Theology in Community series offers a multidisciplinary treatment of the deity of Christ. Robert Peterson, Christopher Morgan, Andreas Kostenberger, Steve Wellum, Alan Gomes, Stephen Nichols, and other noted contributors carefully examine this central doctrine from contemporary, historical, biblical, systematic, apologetic, and missional perspectives. 320 pages, hardcover from Crossway.
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In 1 Peter the Apostle Peter gives us all a very important command; “but honor the Messiah as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you. (1 Peter 3:15, Holman Christian Standard Bible, HCSB)” Unfortunately for the Church today fewer and fewer people are willing to stand up for the hope that is in them as born-again believers. Over the past several years we have seen many well founded denominations chose to move away from the doctrines from which they were founded, and chose to blaze for themselves a new path of “tolerance and love” while turning away from the only source of true love, Jesus Christ.
Those who profess faith in Jesus Christ are often challenged by those who do not to defend the faith. Many do not have the knowledge, experience, or tools to do this. This is where “Theology in Community” comes into play. This is a series of books that began with “Suffering and the Goodness of God” in 2008, then “The Glory of God” in 2010. This year they released their third addition “The Deity of Christ” which is what this review will be on today.
“The Deity of Christ” is edited by Christopher W. Morgan and Robert A. Peterson with contributions from 7 others. In this book they address 10 common topics of challenge to the deity of Christ; as it is viewed today, in the Old Testament, Synoptic Gospels, John’s Gospel, Church History, World Religions, Missions, and others. Having come from a background as a Pastor’s son, I did not spend too much time on the Biblical aspects of Christ’s Deity because that is something I feel like I am well grounded in. However, some of the other chapters were very informative.
I have had this book now for probably three months, which is longer than the publisher likes normally without a review, but this book was so in depth that I could not just read it once. This is a book I had to read and mull over numerous times. I believe every follower of Christ should invest in a book like this and use it for the tool that it is. Although this tool is very in depth, and written by scholars, there is no doubt that these men took time to make this a book every believer could read. For a volume that only has 255 pages actually in the chapters, the amount of information contained in this book is remarkable.
Chapter 7, which is “The Deity of Christ in Church History” by Dr. Gerald Bray was one of the chapters I spent a lot of time in. I am not as knowledgeable as others on the founding fathers, so reading this chapter was actually of great interest and great value to me. One point I found interesting was the fact that many so-called scholars instead of looking at the facts presented from the actual Word of God dismiss them as evidence because the Gospels show Christ as 100% God and 100% Man. Another excellent point made by Dr. Bray was the fact that although there are some miracles in each of the Gospel accounts, that is not the full focus of any of the Gospels, showing that so convinced were the authors of Christ’s deity that they did not feel the need to build up any of the miracles to a point of sole focus.
Although Pastor Appreciation Month is over, this is a book I would recommend as a gift to any pastor, or any other serious student of the WORD of God. With all the technical writing, and the re-reads I still rate this book a 5 out of 5. There is no doubt that we are in a time where we will have to continue to defend our faith in Jesus Christ and the Trinity, and this tool of offense or defense is worth having.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Crossway as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
We live in an American culture where it is fashionable to make Jesus everything you want Him to be. Unfortunately, the Jesus of too many American’s, and Christians none-the-less, is not the Jesus presented in the Bible. If the Burger King slogan “Have it Your Way” were to have a Christological bent, then the slogan for the Jesus of America would be “Jesus, Have Him Your Way.”
The Deity of Christ (Theology in Community Series) ed. by Christopher Morgan and Robert Peterson is a clear call amidst the often confusing voices claiming to present the Jesus of the Bible and history. Amidst the quagmire of the ‘everyone Jesus’ and in a world where Jesus has been reduced to my homey and ‘BFF’, this book brings us back to the center of Christology. This book draws us to one of the most foundational attributes of the Jesus Christ the Son of the living God – his deity.
In the opening chapter, The Deity of Christ Today, Stephen J. Nichols bounces off the work of Stephen Prothero and argues that we have gone from a creedal Jesus, to a human Jesus that is close and ended up with a Jesus that has liberated itself from Christianity and the Bible (p. 27). Stephen points out that there have been many attempts within our American culture to present Jesus. Movies like The Passion of Christ, consumerism and our nifty slogans and even politics where Jesus is somehow on everyone’s side, show us that our cultural attempts to display Jesus have left us with “personal Jesuses who look far more like their makers than like the Jesus of sacred Scripture and the historical creeds (p.31).”
So how do we save ourselves and our culture from the Jesus of our own making? Nichols suggests that we need to get back to the tradition of the creeds and the tradition of Scripture. We need the creeds because they have helped to solidify the teaching of Scripture pertaining to, of many things, the deity of Christ. While creedal tradition can help we must ultimately rest our understanding of Christ on Scripture. When we rest on Scripture we cannot help but conclude that Jesus is God.
In The Deity of Christ there is much that is to be commended. In his chapter, The Deity of Christ in the Synoptic Gospels, Stephen J. Wellum rightly points out that it is Scripture that gives us the material from which we formulate our articulation of Jesus and not the fashionable opinions of the day. Wellum states, Scripture provides not only the raw data for understanding who the historical Jesus is but it also provides the God-given interpretive framework, structure, and categories by which we grasp his identity and thus construct an objectively grounded and warranted Christology. In this way, Scripture serves as our epistemological norm for understanding who Jesus is apart from all historical-critical reconstructions of the text (p. 64).
Wellum’s no nonsense words set the foundation for the rest of the book. It is Scripture and not man’s culturally changing opinions that shape and inform our understanding and presentation of Jesus.
Of particular notice is Stephen J. Wellum’s chapter entitled The Deity of Christ on the Apostolic Witness. Among many things, Wellum does an excellent job explaining the christological aspects of Philippians 2:5-11. His explanation of the kenosis is spot on and even well informed readers will find it helpful.
Concerning Christology within church history, Gerald Bray presents an even handed description and explanation of the churches formation and articulation of the doctrine of the deity of Christ. Bray’s discussion is a dose of good medicine for those who want to cast doubt on whether the early church fathers ‘invented’ the deity of Christ. Bray rightly points out that their debates were not hinged on questioning the deity of Christ but rather they assumed and affirmed the deity of Christ. “The issues debated during the decades of classical creedal formation were more about how belief in his deity should be expressed and harmonized with monotheism then whether he was divine at all (p. 169).” Concerning the correlation between the churches formation and development of the doctrine of the deity of Christ Wellum’s words are worth quoting at length:
"If human beings had invented the deity of Jesus, we would expect them to emphasize his miraculous deeds as the main evidence for this, and the more improbable the miracles were, the better. There would have been little reason for them to have added the more mundane details found in the Gospels if they had not been part of Jesus’ claims about himself. The conclusion must be that Jesus taught these things about himself, and it was for that reason that his disciples worshiped him as God. For all their reflection on the person and natures of Jesus Christ, none of the fathers of the church ever believed that, in confessing the deity of Christ, he was adding anything to the teaching of Jesus himself. Their aim was to explain the evidence that had been set before them in the historical events of the life, death and resurrection of the man whose claims they believed and whose teaching the followed. What that explanation was is the substance of the development of the doctrine of Christ in the history of the church (p. 175-76)."
The concluding chapter by J. Nelson Jennings tackles the ever timely issue of the preeminence of Christ among the religions of the world. Jennings challenges the church and the missionary abroad to proclaim Christ as God in the flesh and as the only God worthy of worship. Christ is not whoever each religion worships for this demolishes the necessity and imminent need of missions, not to mention the many aspects of the doctrine of Christ and salvation. “Rather, the relationship between Christ’s deity and Christian missions consists primarily in Jesus Christ the ascended God-man orchestrating, empowering, and intruding into people’s lives through his followers’ cross-/intercultural witness (p. 267).” In regards to religious pluralism, Jennings addresses its foremost contemporary proponent John Hicks. Hicks contends that there are many ways in which people can find a point of contact through which they can be saved and know God – not just Jesus. Hicks further believes that each religions communication of truth demonstrate the many ways in which divine truth can be believed and found (p. 278). Jennings rightly counters Hicks by reminding us that man does not have to search in his own for his own truth formation of God and salvation. The Bible clearly teaches us that God has come in the flesh for all through the incarnation of Jesus Christ (John 1 & I John 1). The counter claim to religious plurality is the incarnational reality that Jesus is God!
Overall, The Deity of Christ is an engaging, insightful and reader friendly guide through the multifaceted doctrine of the deity of Christ. This is not an esoteric work but rather a book that is aimed at the laymen, pastor, Sunday school teacher and student of the Bible. This book serves as both a refresher course on the deity of Christ as well as a timeless reference guide to explaining many of the great Christological passages and phrases of Scripture. As the third contribution to the Theology in Community series from Crossway, The Deity of Christ is a welcome addition to the much needed area of contemporary expressions of the doctrine of Christ. This book will serve the church well for years to come.
The Deity of Christ, a Theology in Community book edited by Christopher Morgan and Robert Peterson brings together fresh insight into the discussion of the deity of Christ. Nine contributors cover the biblical, historical, theological, and contemporary issues for today's reader.
There are many books that deal with the deity of Christ. Some are very scholarly and can be intimidating for the average reader. Typically these books deal with the biblical veracity of the deity of Christ or the historical debates that have taken place in ages past. Occasionally one can read of the influence that false teaching in church history has had on groups like Mormon's and Jehovah's Witnesses. This book covers these topics from a vantage point that the average reader will appreciate and understand.
What sets this work apart from the others is the chapters that deal specifically with cults and mission work. In fact, these were my two favorite chapters. Alan Gomes writes on The Deity of Christ and the Cults and J. Nelson Jennings writes the chapter titled The Deity of Christ for Missions, World Religions, and Pluralism. These two chapters make combine the biblical truth regarding the deity of Christ and the historical debates within early church history together to lay a foundation explaining cults (Mormonism, Jehovah's Witnesses, and the United Pentecostal Church). Understanding this foundation serves well when examining the deity of Christ with missions and how it relates to world religions and the rise in religious pluralism.
Understanding the truth that Jesus is God is not some dry doctrinal maxim for theologians to debate. The chapters gathered together for the Theology in Community series remind us of the rich, undeniable, necessary reality of contending for the faith and the urgency of doing so in our world today.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Crossway as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
This books contains 10 chapters each written by different pastors and scholars in looking at the deity of Jesus. This book examines the deity of Christ through the gospels, the book of Revelation, Church history, cults, world religions and even in the Old Testament. The book even examines the deity of Christ as it relates to us today and in our work in missions.
This book does a great job in defending the deity of Christ and you learn a lot about how cults and world religions look at the deity of Jesus.
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Review 5 for The Deity of Christ
Worthy Subject, Must Read
Date:August 2, 2011
Location:Cape Coral, FL
The Deity of Christ, edited by Christopher W. Morgan and Robert A. Peterson and published by Crossway is the third title in the Theology in Community series. A complimentary copy was sent to me by Crossway for the purpose of review. The other two titles in this series are: Suffering and the Goodness of God and The Glory of God.
From the back cover of the book:
"The Theology in Community series assembles teams of scholars to explore key theological themes and apply them to contemporary concerns. Each volume approaches a topic from the vantage points of the Old and New Testaments, and of historical, systematic, and practical theology. The books draw upon a variety of contributors to craft a unified and accessible message. They aim to help pastors, church leaders, and laypersons alike."
Contributors for this volume are:
Gerald Bray, Research Professor of Divinity, Beeson Divinity School Alan W. Gomes, Professor of Historical Theology, Talbot School of Theology J. Nelson Jennings, Professor of World Mission, Covenant Theological Seminary Andreas J. Kostenberger, Professor of New Testament and Greek, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary Christopher W. Morgan, Professor of Theology, California Baptist University Stephen J. Nichols, Research Professor of Christianity and Culture, Lancaster Bible College and Graduate School Raymond C. Ortlund Jr., Pastor, Immanuel Church, Nashville, TN Robert A. Peterson, Professor of Systematic Theology, Covenant Theological Seminary Stephen J. Wellum, Professor of Christian Theology, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
The chapters are:
The Deity of Christ Today (Nichols) The Deity of Christ and the Old Testament (Ortlund) The Deity of Christ in the Synoptic Gospels (Wellum) The Deity of Christ in John's Gospel (Kostenberger) The Deity of Christ in Apostolic Witness (Wellum) The Deity of Christ in John's Letters and the Book of Revelation (Kostenberger) The Deity of Christ in Church History (Bray) Toward a Systematic Theology of the Deity of Christ (Peterson) The Deity of Christ and the Cults (Gomes) The Deity of Christ for Missions, World Religions, and Pluralism (Jennings)
The book is 281 pages in length with appendixes by author, subject and scripture at the end. The chapters are lengthy with an average chapter being around 25 pages. The Deity of Christ is a challenging read due to the weightiness of its subject matter and the academic nature of the writing. With that said, don't be afraid of those challenges and let them stop you from approaching this volume.
Each contributor puts forth scripture as the first and foremost authority. You also get perspective from both the Old and New Testaments. In The Deity of Christ, you will find word studies, quotes from other sources well versed in the study of the deity of Christ, and a careful look at the implications of viewing Christ's deity rightly or wrongly. I am excited to have this title as a part of my personal library and encourage you to make it a part of yours.
It is difficult to review a non-fiction book that has several contributing author's. So I will address two points. 1. What were the strengths and weaknesses of the book 2. Did the book address the goal from the introduction, "key theological themes and apply them to contemporary concerns."
1. One of the strengths in the book is that the reader has a variety of authors to choose from. Meaning differing teaching and writing styles. Where as one author maybe a little dry in his writing, rather like a lecture filled college classroom, the next chapter will have an author that has more energy and personableness. Another strength is the reader has the ability to glean from a background of people that have studied and taught from a seminary. Another strength is that these authors have varying denominational backgrounds. A few from European Universities. The main strength is that I felt each of the author's (even though from differing denominations and universities and personalities) worked together as a whole to address The Deity of Christ. The only weakness I found was that the book was written for Christians that have above average Bible knowledge. I know more Christians that do not read and study the Bible than those that do, because of that there would be a smaller amount of people that would be interested in reading this book. Some might would be put off by its weighty theology material. As for me I loved this book and there were three chapters that I read twice.
2. Yes, I felt the book did address "key theology themes" and applied them to our current culture. In chapter 1 entitled The Deity of Christ Today written by Stephen J. Nichols. He wrote on how through the generations Jesus was looked at or perceived in a certain way. For example during the Victorian Era, Jesus "espoused Victorian virtues of tenderness and gentleness. He was a meek and mild savior, who always had time for children." Another example, the Jesus that is perceived by many in America today is persuaded by film, television, and fictional books such as The Da Vinci Code. The author states that Jesus even shows up on "backpacks and T-shirts." In chapter 9 entitled The Deity of Christ and the Cults. The author took the various beliefs from early Church history and compared them to modern cults. For example: The Arian teaching. The Arian teaching believed that "Jesus was not fully human, instead he was more like an angel-like spirit creature animating a body." The Arian teaching is compared to the Jehovah's Witnesses that believe "The King Christ Jesus now rules as a disembodied angel over the 144,000, a special class of Jehovah's Witness, who also experienced resurrection in a disembodied form."
My favorite chapter (I read twice) that addresses the title of the book, The Deity of Christ, is Chapter 4 The Deity of Christ in John's Gospel written by Andreas J. Kostenberger. In this wonderful chapter I was given a deep lesson from the Gospel of John. "John's Gospel is rooted in the soil of 1st Century Jewish monotheism. It was composed by an eye witness of the events surrounding Jesus' earthly ministry and has as its major purpose the demonstration that Jesus is the Christ and Son of God in order to instill in its readers resulting in eternal life." John 20:30-31 I loved this chapter on John, John's Gospel is probably my favorite book of the Bible. Kostenberger addressed that John was "bold in proclaiming Jesus' divinity. Jesus is presented as both the pre-existent Word at creation and as the incarnate word. Both Yahweh and the Word are theos, 'God.'" "John presents Jesus as distinct from Yahweh (not one seen) and yet at the same time as God-the incarnate God who revealed God to humans in human form." See John chapter 1 verses 1,14-15,17-18,30.
I want to thank Crossway Books for sending me a copy of this wonderful book to review for those who follow my reviews and blog page.
I usually go through a book fairly quickly, but must admit that this book I have taken more time to go through and find myself going back over sections at a time. It’s not because the book is difficult to read, it is because the material is so valuable and there is much to digest.
The book is a compilation of short Essay’s on the topic of the Deity of Christ. Each Essay is well done and touches on a different aspect of the Deity of Christ. Chapters include the following;
The History of the debate on the Deity of Christ Christ in the Old Testament Christ in the Synoptic Gospels Christ in John’s Gospel Christ in the Apostolic Witness Christ in John’s Letters and Revelation Towards a Systematic Theology of the Deity of Christ The Deity of Christ and the Cults The Deity of Christ for Missions, World Religions and Pluralism
While the book is going to delve into the reasons that we can believe in the Deity of Christ we need to understand an underlying principle that was used in bringing this volume together. That principle is this, “We are writing from the perspective that we believe the Bible is the authoritative Word of God, inerrant and useful for teaching.” If you doubt the inerrancy of scripture or that it is truly the Word of God then you will need to tackle that subject in another text before going through this book.
That said, this book is well done, easy to understand for both laymen and clergy. There are a huge number of Biblical references that you can use to develop good teaching outlines for Sunday School classes as well as small groups. Pastors will find this a good resource book for sermons they plan to preach on the Deity of Christ.
My favorite two chapters are Chapters 3 and 4 on The Deity of Christ in the Synoptic Gospels and the Gospel of John. They caught my attention and I read each of those chapters two or three times each and kept my Bible handy to be cross-reading as I went through the text. It was a wonderful study experience.
With today’s culture debating whether Christ was truly the “Son of God” this book is a treasure trove of information to help you develop your understand of Jesus Christ as the Son of God. Some of the information will be old news that you have heard before, but it is presented in a fresh way that will stimulate your thinking about the topic and push you to be more pro-active in sharing the truth about Jesus Christ.
This book can be read in different ways. You can read it straight through one chapter after another, or you can pick and choose chapters based on discussions you may be having with people regarding Christ.
But whatever way you read through this text you will be happy you purchased this book and took the time to thoughtfully work your way through it.
The Deity of Christ is part of a series of books titled Theological in Community edited by Christopher W. Morgan and Robert A. Peterson. The purpose of this series is to assemble a team of scholars to explore key theological themes and apply them to contemporary concerns. Every volume in this series explores the Bible, history, systematic theology and practical theology.
The deity of Christ is important today because of the expansion of Islam, religious pluralism and cults. Chapter nine of this book is my opinion is the most helpful chapter in this book because it explains how the deity of Christ is under attack by cults.
The deity of Christ is important to understand because it explains that Jesus is God in the flesh (John 8:58, 1:1, 14; 10:30-33, 1 John 4:2-3). John states in 1st John 4:2-3 that anyone who acknowledges Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God.” John 1:1 plainly teaches that the Word was God and the Word became flesh. Jesus taught continually through the book of John that “I Am” which is a clear claim to the fact that He is the Son of God and the Son of Man. When Jesus said I Am the bread of life for example in John 6 and noted that only by eating of him, only through him may one come to the Father. This teaching upset the Jews because they could not get past the humanity of Christ—John 6:42, “Is not this Jesus, the Son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know?”
The deity of Christ is important to understand because it includes the Trinity (One God who exists in three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit who are all coeternal and of the same nature), Monotheism (that there is only one God in all existence), the hypostatic union of Christ (That Jesus is both God and man), and the sufficiency of the sacrifice of Christ. Understanding the deity of Christ is so important because the deity of Christ distinguishes biblical Christianity from Jehovah’s Witnesses, Islam, etc.
The Deity of Christ is a helpful treatment on an important topic. This book will help you think through an issue that is considered fundamental to biblical Christianity. Reading this book will help you develop a biblical worldview on the Deity of Christ and help you defend your faith. I encourage you to pick this up and be challenged and learn to defend the deity of Christ against the attacks of by Islam, Jehovah’s Witnesses and more.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Crossway as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commision’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
When The Deity of Christ, a book sent by the publisher for me to review, was delivered to my house I was in the backyard roasting coffee. I was in process of creating a blend to commemorate a friend's wedding. A blend in the world of coffee is a mixture of coffees from multiple origins and is typically blended to produce a balanced cup. As I perused the volume that had just arrived I was intrigued by the concept behind the book and the similarities between that and the coffee blend I was working on. The Theology in Community series “assembles teams of scholars to explore key theological themes and apply them to contemporary themes.” It seems this series of books is a blend of authors, from various origins, that would result in a balanced book on a particular topic. I generally enjoy these types of books as they expose one to multiple authors with multiple perspectives. With coffee beans cracking in the heat of the roaster, I cracked open The Deity of Christ.
The deity of Christ, in the eyes of the editors, is a topic of paramount import; “The deity of Christ is vital to Christian faith and practice. In fact, nothing is more important than whether or not Jesus Christ is God. If Jesus is not God incarnate, then Christianity is not true; if he is, then it is true. The critical importance of Christ's deity is sufficient reason for this book.” (20) Though no further defence for a book of this sort is needed, the editors share several other reasons this volume is important; an increase in popularity of 'gospels' denying the divinity of Christ, the worldwide expansion of Islam which denies Christ is God, religious pluralism which undermines the exclusivity of Christ's salvation, and the proliferation of cults whose status as cults is a result of their denial of the central doctrine of Christ's deity.
With so much at stake, a book of this sort is more than a nicety; it is a necessity. And though there have been many written works on this topic, a fresh, contemporary look at this integral doctrine should not be overlooked.
It occurred to me that the editors and others of this volume, in producing this book, are raising a standard. A quick glimpse in a dictionary for the definition of standard resulted in over 30 definitions. Nevertheless, several of them pertain directly to this book. The deity of Christ, and hence this book, is a doctrine that embodies several of the definitions I came across. The editors and authors of The Deity of Christ employ this doctrine as a standard for the Christian church. How is this doctrine a 'standard'? The doctrine of Christ being divine is a standard in the sense that is something to conform to and a basis for comparison. A Christian church, to be truly Christian, must conform to this doctrine and if an individual Christian's beliefs are found lacking when compared to this doctrine, the designation of Christian is speculative at best. A standard is also a flag representing a sovereign which one can rally to, and the writers call the church to rally to Christ, the second person of the trinity, our sovereign Redeemer. Finally, the truth of Christ's divinity is a standard as in a support; Christ as God provides an unfaltering practical support to the believer and to the church. Practically speaking, Christ's divinity is a necessity for our daily walk of faith.
The Deity of Christ as a book raises a standard in the multifaceted ways described above and presents a myriad of applications. The various authors serve their purpose well in providing a collection of chapters that rally Christians around their King and Saviour, explain and elucidate the doctrine which historic Christianity has used as a means of comparison and conformity, and strategically support the saints in their safeguarding of this tenet of their faith. This book, and the others in this series, attempt this this by approaching the topic through biblical, historical, systematic and practical perspectives.
Some books are classics that you will read many times over your lifetime. This is not that book. Some books are barely worth reading, and having read them, you'll never crack them open again. This is not that type of book either. But, some books are valuable in that they provide you with a resource for future reference that you will consult at different times for different reasons at many times. That is this book. Though I do not foresee myself reading this book from cover to cover again, I am quite certain I will revisit this book for numerous reasons on various occasions. Like a good cup of your favourite blend of coffee, this book will always leave you wanting another sip.
Great book about the truth of fully God nature of Christ. Like the other books in this series, the editors sought a team of respected scholars to tackle the issue at hand, in this volume, the deity of Jesus Christ. I have no hesitation to highly recommend this book to anyone.