By Michael Reeves
IVP Press, Academic
Softcover, 135 pages, $16
EVERY ONCE in a while, you are given an opportunity to stretch yourself, to try something a bit out of the ordinary that you know will help you along in your journey of faith. When these chances come along I often find myself jumping in with both feet. In this case I was asked if I would like to read the book by Michael Reeves, Delighting in the Trinity. I was intrigued by the title – not understanding the Trinity but rather delighting in it.
To me the subject of the Trinity has always been a doctrine that one takes for granted. Every year on Trinity Sunday the priest gives an obligatory sermon on the Trinity, explaining the triune nature of the Godhead: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. It all makes sense at the time. Once the sermon is over, the information is tucked away for the rest of the year until Trinity Sunday rolls around once again. I assumed the author would simply re-work the same old trusty analogies I had heard time and time again to explain the doctrine of the Trinity. As I glanced over the contents page I knew my assumptions were wrong. And just how wrong they were I would discover as I read the very first line of the introduction “God is love” and again in the beginning of the third paragraph:
“This book, then, will simply be 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 refreshed.”
Reeves presents a whole new way to think about the Trinity. He discusses God before Creation and during Creation, then he explores our salvation as well as our everyday Christian life. Reeves skillfully uses biblical passages to illustrate his points, along with quotes from the writings of ancient theologians and religious scholars throughout the ages – from Arius and Augustine to Karl Barth and J.I. Packer. He also makes insightful comparisons with other world religions and uses humour and modern analogies to get across his points.
Reeves explains at the opening that “the triune being of God is the vital oxygen of Christian life and joy. And so it is my hope and prayer that as you read this book, the knowledge of the Father, Son and Spirit will breathe fresh life into you.” Reeves takes great pains in illustrating the loving, triune nature of God. This loving nature becomes clear as Reeves shows what a God in the form of one person would be like. This one-person God could not possibly be the one we worship in our Christian faith.
The Chapter regarding Creation begins with the title “Single God, Non-Smoker, Seeks Attractive Creation with Good Sense of Humor...”. Reeves goes on to explain how a single-person god would find it very difficult to create anything except for his or her own self-gratification. In contrast, the Trinity is a self-giving community of love. “For God who is Father, Son and Spirit...he is a God who is not essentially lonely, but who has been loving for all eternity as the Father has loved the Son in the Spirit. Loving others is not a strange or novel thing for this God at all: it is at the root of who he is.”
Reeves speaks of a God who loves so much, much more than we can ever imagine. This loving God is what separates Christianity from all other religions; it is what makes Christianity ‘tick.’ He is the God of the Nicene Creed. He is the God spoken of more elaborately in the Athanasian Creed. He is the God of the Old Testament and the Gospels. I have never been exposed to this approach to the doctrine of the Trinity – and to Reeves I am grateful. This book has really enhanced my journey of faith.
I would highly recommend Delighting in the Trinity for those exploring Christianity for the first time and for mature Christians alike. It is a must-read and should be in every church library. TAP