Delighting in the Trinity: An Introduction to the Christian Faith
IVP Academic 2012
By Michael Reeves
Reviewed by Jack Kettler
Michael Reeves, (PhD, King’s College) is an author, theologian, historian and professor who teaches at Wales Evangelical School of Theology (WEST) and is the director of Union, a WEST initiative that puts the theological academy back in the local church context. He previously served as theological adviser for the Universities and Colleges Christian Fellowship in the United Kingdom where he oversaw the Theology Network, a theological resources website. He was also associate minister at All Souls Church, Langham Place. Reeves is the author of books such as Delighting in the Trinity, The Unquenchable Flame, Discovering the Heart of the Reformation, The Breeze of the Centuries, On Giants Shoulders and The Good God.
What others are saying:
“Even many Christians find the Trinity confusing, but Delighting in the Trinity is the clearest and best written explanation I’ve ever read.” (Marvin Olasky, World Magazine, June 29, 2013)
“Michael Reeves’s Delighting in the Trinity is an enjoyable introduction to the doctrine of the Trinity. . . . [It’s] a great read. . . . This book would be useful for working with non-Christians seeking to understand Christianity. It would also serve the Christian who wants a better understanding of why the Trinity was not the invention of ‘bored monks on rainy afternoons.’” (New Horizons, April 2013)
“Michael Reeves . . . has produced a powerful and concise treatment of the trinity in Delighting in the Trinity. One of the strengths of this volume is its practicality and accessiblity. One of the most exciting aspects of this book is Reeves’ skill in helping readers understand what it means to enjoy God and understand the doctrine of the trinity to be a demonstration of ‘the beauty, the overflowing kindness, the heart-grabbing loveliness of God.'” (R. Albert Mohler Jr., Preaching, March/April 2013)
“It’s not often one reads a book on trinitarian theology that is deeply insightful and wonderfully witty at the same time, but this is such a volume. Filled with careful thought and wise application, Reeves provides a most accessible book for those who are trying to understand what difference it makes that we are trinitarian.” (Kelly M. Kapic, Covenant College)
“The Trinity is often regarded as an esoteric and intimidating doctrine, over the heads of rank-and-file Christians. What are laypeople and students to make of the theologians’ unfathomable utterances about how the Father, Son and Spirit constitute one God? The answer: Start by reading this book. Michael Reeves unpacks the significance of the Trinity for Christian life with a straight-shooting, conversational style honed by years of student ministry. But don’t let the panache fool you. There is substance here that outweighs that of books much harder to understand. Read this book. Look up all the Bible passages it quotes. Let the Spirit use it to help you to see the Scriptures―and most of all, to see God the Trinity―in a new way. I cannot recommend it highly enough.” (Donald Fairbairn, Robert E. Cooley Professor of Early Christianity, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and author of Life in the Trinity)
First off, this is how the introduction and chapter layout look:
Introduction: Here Be Dragons?
1. What Was God Doing Before Creation?
2. Creation: The Father’s Love Overflows
3. Salvation: The Son Shares What Is His
4. The Christian Life: The Spirit Beautifies
5. “Who Among the Gods Is Like You, O Lord?
Conclusion: No Other Choice
To start, this work is nothing short of extraordinary! It is has both a devotional aspect and powerful apologetic combined! The apologetic value of the book for Muslims and Arians is enormous.
From the Introduction we read:
“You see it in the Bible, where the Lord God of Israel, Baal, Dagon, Molech and Artemis are completely different. Or take, for example, how the Qur’an explicitly and sharply distinguishes Allah from the God described by Jesus:
“Say not ‘Trinity.’ Desist; it will be better for you: for God is one God. Glory be to Him: (far exalted is He) above having a son.” (Surah 4.1710).
“Say: ‘He, Allah, is One. Allah is He on Whom all depend. He begets not, nor is He begotten. And none is like Him.’” (Surah 112).
“In other words, Allah is a single-person God. In no sense is he a Father (“he begets not”), and in no sense does he have a Son (“nor is he begotten”). He is one person, and not three. Allah, then, is an utterly different sort of being to the God who is Father, Son and Spirit. And it is not just incompatibly different numbers we are dealing with here: that difference, as we will see, is going to mean that Allah exists and functions in a completely different way from the Father, Son and Spirit. All that being the case, it would be madness to settle for any presupposed idea of God. Without being specific about which God is God, which God will we worship? Which God will we ever call others to worship? Given all the different preconceptions people have about “God,” it simply will not do for us to speak abstractly about some general “God.” And where would doing so leave us? If we content ourselves with being mere monotheists, and speak of God only in terms so vague they could apply to Allah as much as the Trinity, then we will never enjoy or share what is so fundamentally and delightfully different about Christianity.” (pp. 17, 18 introduction)
This short selection from the introduction is amplified and the implications developed and expanded many times over throughout the book.
For example, consider some more gems from this book in the next three quotes:
“Just so, the Father would not be the Father without his Son (whom he loves through the Spirit). And the Son would not be the Son without his Father. He has his very being from the Father. And so we see that the Father, Son and Spirit, while distinct persons, are absolutely inseparable from each other. Not confused, but undividable. They are who they are together. They always are together, and thus they always work together. That means that the Father is not “more” God than the Son or the Spirit, as if he had once existed or could exist without them. His very identity and being is about giving out his own fullness to the Son. He is inseparable from him. It also means there is no “God” behind and before Father, Son and Spirit.” (34)
“Therein lies the problem: how can a solitary God be eternally and essentially loving when love involves loving another? In the fourth century B.C., the Athenian philosopher Aristotle wrestled with a very similar question: how can God be eternally and essentially good when goodness involves being good to another? His answer was that God is, eternally, the uncaused cause. That is who God is. Therefore he must eternally cause the creation to exist, meaning that the universe is eternal. This way God can be truly and eternally good, for the universe eternally exists alongside him and eternally he gives his goodness to it. In other words, God is eternally self-giving and good because he is eternally self-giving and good to the universe. It was, as always with Aristotle, ingenious. However, once again it means that for God to be himself, he needs the world. He is, essentially, dependent on it to be who he is. And, even though technically “good,” Aristotle’s god is hardly kind or loving. He does not freely choose to create a world that he might bless; it is more that the universe just oozes out of hi.” (40-41)
“The seventeenth-century Puritan theologian John Owen wrote that the Father’s love for the Son is “the fountain and prototype of all love. . . . And all love in the creation was introduced from this fountain, to give a shadow and resemblance of it.”
Indeed, in the triune God is the love behind all love, the life behind all life, the music behind all music, the beauty behind all beauty and the joy behind all joy. In other words, in the triune God is a God we can heartily enjoy—and enjoy in and through his creation.” (62)
From the final chapter:
“Who Among the Gods Is Like You, O Lord?”
“For the last two hundred years or so, atheism in the West has been marching forward with ever more confidence and power. Its cries have not only heartened the person on the street who would simply rather do without God and religion; they have also inspired a new, ultra-aggressive squad of “antitheists.” (109)
This final chapter along with Reeves’ closing comments are extremely valuable in dealing with atheistic mistaken beliefs about the triune God. Bibliophiles, this book is for you.
“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
Nothing in us caused or merited this supreme act of love on God’s part!
“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)
“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.” (Titus 3:5)
“To God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.” (Romans 16:27) and “heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:28, 29)
Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of the book defending the Reformed Faith against attacks, titled: The Religion That Started in a Hat. Available at: http://www.TheReligionThatStartedInAHat.com
Delighting in the Trinity: An Introduction to the Christian Faith can be ordered by clicking on the book title hyper link.