This blog is the combined effort of four senior pastors of different churches. Their desire is to point you toward living a God-centered, gospel-focused, Christian life.

Monday, January 21, 2013

A Delightful Book on the Trinity

Last week, a book that I had ordered several weeks ago finally showed up on my doorstep: Delighting inthe Trinity: An Introduction to the Christian Faith, by Michael Reeves.
Though late, its arrival was still timely. As our church works its way through the New City Catechism, this week we arrived at a question dealing with the doctrine of the Trinity, Question #4, which asks: “How many persons are there in God?”

When I asked this question of my kids on Sunday night, they knew an abbreviated form of the answer: “Three!” several exclaimed at once.
But they—like many of us—struggled to explain what that really means.

The answer the New City Catechism provides is both concise and profound: “There are three persons in the one true and living God: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. They are the same in substance, equal in power and glory.”
Sometimes, we think of the Trinity as a mystery that cannot be understood. But Reeves contends this is not the right way to understand (or avoid understanding) the Trinity:

God is a mystery, but not in the alien abductions, things-that-go-bump-in-the-night sense. Certainly not in the “who can know, why bother?” sense. God is a mystery in that who he is and what he is like are secrets, things we would never have worked out by ourselves. But this triune God has revealed himself to us. Thus the Trinity is not some piece of inexplicable apparent nonsense, like a square circle or an interesting theologian. Rather, because the triune God has revealed himself, we can understand the Trinity (12).
The doctrine of the trinity is not only a central tenant to the Christian faith but essential to knowing who it is we worship as God. In his introduction, Reeves says his book is

about growing in our enjoyment of God and seeing how God’s triune being makes all his ways beautiful. It is a chance to taste and see that the Lord is good, to have your heart won and yourself refreshed. For it is only when you grasp what it means for God to be a Trinity that you really sense the beauty, the overflowing kindness, the heart-grabbing loveliness of God (9).
This is an excellent way to approach this doctrine. Tim Challies, in his review of the book, notes the uniqueness of Reeves’ approach:

I have read several books on the Trinity in the past and have always enjoyed reading them. James White’s The Forgotten Trinity and Bruce Ware’s Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are biblical, systematic and powerful. I’ve read them, benefited from them, and often recommended them. I will continue to do so. The unique angle—and unique beauty—of Delighting in the Trinity is that it looks less at a concept and more at a relationship, less at a doctrine and more at the persons of the godhead. It is, at heart, an introduction to the Christian faith and the Christian life that seeks to show that both must be at all times rooted in the triunity of God. All that God is, all that God does, flows out of his triunity.
I highly recommend Reeves’ book. As the subtitle suggests, understanding the triune nature of God isn’t just about knowing some theological jargon. It is about knowing the God we claim to worship.

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