The Gospel Coalition

 

Michael Reeves. Delighting in the Trinity: An Introduction to the Christian Faith. Downers Grove: IVP; Milton Keynes: Paternoster, 2012. 130 pp. £9.99/$15.00. [The UK title is The Good God: Enjoying Father, Son and Spirit.]



Have you ever been mystified by the Trinity? If so, then this book is for you. It is written in a popular style, quite free of theological jargon, and aims to tell us in a simple and straightforward way why the doctrine of the Trinity is central to our faith. You cannot understand the Bible or grow in the Christian life without coming to know the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit personally. That means meeting each of them together since they are never apart from each other, and it also means seeing how they relate to each other inside the mysterious oneness of God.

Dr Reeves starts with the assertion that God is love and that the Trinity is the supreme manifestation of that. From there he goes on to explain that the creation of the world was an expression of God's love but that human beings chose to reject it and turned in on themselves. That cut them off from God and led to the drama that we know as the Christian faith. To explain that, Dr Reeves opens up to us the mystery of salvation, telling us how the Father sent his Son to suffer and die for us so that we might be able to return to fellowship with him. From there he goes on to talk about the life in the Spirit that Christians are called to enjoy as children of the Father and adopted brothers and sisters of the Son.

Along the way, Dr Reeves introduces his readers to some leading theologians of the past, explaining who they were and what contribution they made to our understanding. He does not run away from the hard bits, like the so-called 'damnatory clauses' in the Athanasian Creed, which state that those who do not believe in the Trinity will perish everlastingly. Rather than dismiss this as outdated prejudice, Dr Reeves shows us why the Creed is right. Belief in the Trinity is essential, and understanding God's self-revelation correctly is proof that we have indeed met him and known him as our Saviour and Lord.

It is obviously impossible to do full justice to such a mighty theme in a few short pages, but Dr Reeves is not trying to do that. His book is an introduction that aims to set us on the right track, and here he succeeds admirably. If there is a weakness in his presentation, it is that he puts so much emphasis on the 'sunny side up' dimension of our relationship with God that the more sombre aspects, like sin and suffering, tend to get passed over. For example, although Dr Reeves occasionally quotes from the book of Job, he does not enter into Job's experience of God, which for many Christians is more real than the 'happy ever after' approach that he seems to prefer. There is a balance that needs to be struck here of course-Christians are not meant to be miserable! But the joy of the Lord is often found in and through suffering, and more could have been said about that.

This book is an ideal introduction for young people, for those who want to know more about God but who cannot grasp academic theology, and for pastors who are looking for ways to communicate the faith to non-specialists. Its basic approach is sound, and it will refresh the souls of all who read it. Could we ask for more?


Gerald Bray
Beeson Divinity School, Samford University
Birmingham, Alabama, USA



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