Book Review: Kiss The Son
(Originally published 29 November 2012)
“Kiss the Son: A Christological Apology in Response to David K. Bernard’s The Oneness of God” by Michael R. Burgos Jr.
Reviewed by Lindsay Brooks
Burgos, Michael R., Jr. Kiss the Son: A Christological Apology in Response to David K. Bernard’s The Oneness of God. [Winsted]: CreateSpace Independent Platform, 2012. PDF. 150 pages.
$14.99 Paperback/$9.99 eBook
Interest in the Trinity and the identity of Jesus Christ was piqued earlier this year by the now infamous ‘Elephant Room 2’ controversy centering around Oneness teacher and evangelist, pastor TD Jakes, showing the need for, among other things, an easy to understand work of reference to the Christological passages in the Bible (those passages that talk about the identity and nature of Christ). All the better if it includes exegetical notes, not only for anyone who talks with Oneness Pentecostals, but also to anyone with the moxie to invite the Saturday morning door-knockers (Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, etc.) in for coffee. This is precisely what Michael Burgos, an associate of Christian Apologetics Research Ministries (carm.org), has provided in ‘Kiss The Son,’ a response book to David K. Bernard’s Oneness of God, volume 1 in Bernard’s series on Pentecostal theology. Bernard is the general superintendent of the United Pentecostal Church International, and author of 30 books, including ‘The Oneness of God’.
Burgos, in the first two chapters of Kiss The Son, is concerned with ensuring we are speaking the same language, so in an eminently readable style he defines the common terms and sets the stage for the precision he intends to employ in the rest of the book.
The meat of the book can be found in chapters 3-5 where Old Testament passages about God and New Testament passages about the identity of the Son are given due attention. It is in Chapter 5, where Burgos addresses the disputed passages one at a time, that we find some of the best interaction with David K. Bernard’s material.
While the heavy lifting is done in chapters 3-5, the heart of the book, its center of gravity, is found in Chapter 6, where Burgos tells us the stakes of a misapprehension of the nature of God and of the nature of Christ. Touching on important questions of whether ‘natures’ or ‘persons’ pray, whether an equality of persons can have a hierarchy in roles, and finally, whether misapprehending the nature of God has consequences for objective morality—Burgos finds in these consequences for the orthodox view of the nature of the human family and whether the Biblical God falls to the famous ‘Euthyphro dilemma’ (does God say things are good because they are independently good, or are things good because God says so). In the end, Burgos proclaims the superiority of the orthodox position in its ability to explain these things without contradiction.
There is a certain advantage in doing a ‘response’ book. You have the structure and arguments all laid out. The disadvantage is the flipside of that coin; you must answer the assertions of the other side and not venture too far from them. Kiss The Son takes full advantage of the nature of a response book, addressing with clarity the arguments of David K. Bernard in his systematic theology. The Scriptural arguments are easy to follow and well stated. References to other theologians on the Oneness side include Jason Dulle, David Norris and Daniel Seagraves, and serve to not only show a variety of opinions among Oneness theologians on some of the key points, but also to show the unity Bernard has with his fellow theologians.
The Scripture index at the end of the book is an excellent reason not only to read Kiss The Son, but also to keep it on your shelf as a reference.
The things that a response book couldn’t do are just the things that I hungered for after reading Kiss The Son. The history of the Oneness Pentecostal movement, and of the peculiar theology that has developed within it, is of keen interest and would have given depth to the book and schema to the readers who will actually use the material. Also, the entire first millennium of the Christian Church is marked by Trinitarian and Christological controversy. The first six ecumenical councils all deal with the subject, responding to questions that apply to current Oneness discussion. These additions would triple the size of the book, however, and if one is going to narrow the scope of a work, narrow it to the exegesis of the text of Scripture as Burgos did.
In brief, Michael Burgos has given us an easily readable and useful book focused on answering the Biblical challenges of Oneness Pentecostalism to the historic and orthodox Christian faith. It’s organization and Scripture index make it easy to understand and easy to use as a reference. It lacks in historical schema, but is sufficient to equip those who are called upon to make a defense of these crucial doctrines on a Biblical basis.