BOOK REVIEWS · The Holy Trinity · Theology


Delighting in the Trinity by Tim Chester is a welcome addition to the growing number of titles from the folks at the Good Book Company.  This impressive British organization is committed to the advancement of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Their commitment is reflected in a consistent stream of solid material designed to strengthen disciples of Jesus Christ.

Chester’s book should be considered a primer on the doctrine of the Trinity.  In part one, he pours the necessary theological “concrete” which gives shape to the foundation which undergird the Trinitarian formulation.  Part two is a walk through church history, beginning in the second century.  Part three explores practical considerations as they relate to the doctrine of the Trinity.  The author explores the relationship of the Trinity to revelation, salvation, humanity, and mission.

Delighting in the Trinity is a helpful book, especially for believers who need a basic entry point to understanding this essential doctrine.

4 stars

BOOK REVIEWS · The Holy Trinity · Theology

MAKING SENSE OF THE TRINITY – Millard J. Erickson (2000)

Making Sense of the Trinity by Millard Erickson is a basic book that asks three profound questions:

1. Is the doctrine of the Trinity biblical?

2. Does the doctrine of the Trinity make sense?

3. Does the Doctrine of the Trinity make any difference?

Erickson succeeds in answering each question in the affirmative.  He unpacks the biblical doctrine and links his answers to the Bible as well as church history.  He alerts readers to some of the Trinitarian errors that have emerged throughout church history.  And he shows how the Trinity affects the daily life of Christians.

Making Sense of the Trinity is a good introductory resource on a crucial doctrine.  The author does not answer every objection.  He does not present a series of comprehensive arguments.  These matters can be covered in other works.  For a more detailed study that concerns the Trinity, see The Holy Trinity by Robert Letham.

4 stars

BOOK REVIEWS · The Holy Trinity · Theology

OUR TRIUNE GOD: Living in the Love of the Three-In-One – Philip Graham Ryken and Michael LeFebvre (2011)

Philip Graham Ryken and Michael LeFebvre add to the growing list of books on the doctrine of the Trinity with their release, Our Triune God. Their work focusses on the essence of the Trinity – how the Trinity saves, the mysterious nature of the Trinity, how the Trinity relates to the Christian life, and the joy he brings the people of God.

Our Triune God steers clear of the debates that take place in church history.  The authors leave that discussion for another time.  The strength of this work is that  Ryken and LeFebvre cut to the heart of the Trinity.  This book may be the perfect starting place for Christians who desire to learn more about the Trinity.  Practical, solid, and readable.  Highly recommended!

4 stars

BOOK REVIEWS · The Holy Trinity · Theology

WHAT IS THE TRINITY – David F. Wells (2012)

What is the Trinity by David F. Wells is an outstanding addition to the Basics of the Faith series by Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing.

Wells introduces readers to this vital subject matter in a mere 37 pages.  Readers should be aware that the author does not intend to fully unpack the doctrine of the Trinity.  Rather, he merely gives readers of taste of this critical area of theology.  He begins with the unity of God and proceeds to explain the three persons of the godhead.

The author alerts readers to some of the battles that have surrounded the doctrine of the Trinity in church history.  He also makes practical applications that flow out of the doctrine.  Highly recommended for beginning theology students.
“There is so much more than we now know about God’s glorious being and his triune nature.  We stand at the edge of a vast ocean and see just its shoreline.  We cannot see beyond the horizon, though we can be entirely confident that what we cannot know about God is fully consistent with what we do know because of his self-revelation to us.” – David F. Wells


THE DEEP THINGS OF GOD: How the Trinity Changes Everything – Fred Sanders (2010)

The Deep Things of God: How the Trinity Changes Everything by Fred Sanders is not the best book I’ve read on the Trinity.  However, it is among one of the more interesting.

The title grabbed my attention as so many Christian books tend to focus on the trivial.  There is nothing trivial about Sanders’ work.  He sounds the alarm and calls evangelicals to return to their Trinitarian roots and experience the deep truths concerning God.

The author cites B.B. Warfield which serves as an effective launching point: “The religious terrain is full of the graves of good words which have died from lack of care … and these good words are still dying all around us.  There is that good word “Evangelical.”  It is certainly moribund, if not already dead.  Nobody any longer seems to know what it means.”  Sober words from a theologian who has been dead for  almost ninety years!

Sanders does not waste any time developing his thesis.  He states it early in the book: “The central argument of this book is that the doctrine of the Trinity inherently belongs to the gospel itself.”  His goal is to demonstrate that “the gospel is Trinitarian, and the Trinity is the gospel.”  And he pounds this theme at every conceivable angle for 239 pages.

The introduction rightly responds negatively to the typical anti-intellectual and reductionist tendencies among evangelicals.  Sanders writes, “When emphatic evangelicalism degenerates into reductionist evangelicalism, it is always because it has lost touch with the all-encompassing truth of its Trinitarian theology.”

One strategy the author utilizes is to call forth witnesses to testify on behalf of Trinitarian theology.  Those who testify are a diverse group: everyone from C.S. Lewis,  J.I. Packer, Francis Schaeffer, Billy Graham, Oswald Chambers, and Susannah Wesley.

Sanders introduces readers to the self-sufficiency of God in what he calls “the happy land of the Trinity.”  In other words, God, from all eternity has always been happy and complete.  There has been perfect fellowship among the members of the godhead from all eternity and there will continue to be perfect fellowship in eternity future.  The author continually returns to the main theme, namely, “The main practical reason for learning how to think well about the eternal life of the Trinity is that it is the background for the gospel.”

Sanders continues to link the doctrine of the Trinity to gospel truth: “Everything in the Christian faith should be connected, clearly and directly, to the one central thing, the gospel of salvation in Christ.”  As such, the author  does brief exposition of Ephesians 1 and borrows the insight of Henry Scougal to bolster his thesis.

Readers become familiarized with the various roles that the members of the godhead perform which ultimately ushers them into “the saving life of Christ.”  Here, Sanders leans heavily on the insight of Francis Schaeffer: “When I accept Christ as my Savior, my guilt is gone, I am indwelt by the Holy Spirit, and I am in communication with the Father and the Son, as well as the Holy Spirit – the entire Trinity.”

I can recommend The Deep Things of God to folks who have wrestled through some of the implications of the Trinitarian formulations.  For those who are unfamiliar with how the doctrine unfolded in church history and how it is developed in Scripture – this is probably not the best place to start.  I would turn first to Bruce A. Ware’s excellent work, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Robert Letham’s, The Holy Trinity and James White’s, The Forgotten Trinity.

We would do well to remember the words of Dr. South concerning the Trinity, cited in William Shedd’s Introduction to Augustine’s De Trinitate:

  • “As he that denies this fundamental article of the Christian religion may lose his soul, so he that much strives to understand it may lose his wits.”

3.5 stars