Monday, December 03, 2012

Book Review: Delighting in the Trinity by Michael Reeves

God is Love.  Through acceptance and abiding in this Love we learn to love aright in a fallen world.  From it we worship in spirit and in truth.  It is the foundation upon which we function as a disciple of Christ.   We grow in knowledge from the overwhelming awe this love invokes within our hearts and mind.  God, being Pure Love, gives sinful creatures the ability to love Him.  It is truly breathtaking when one takes the time to meditate, pray, and study out God as love.  But not many Christians embark on such a spiritual journey.  Why?  Because one word will ultimately surface when studying God as love because it cannot be avoided:  Trinity.  The oddity, the complexity, the mystery of the Trinity is alluring to many who believe in the God of Bible, but those same things which attract can cause one to regard it as a part of faith best left unknown.  Yet if there is one area of truth which the church needs today in this world of relativity, it is the Trinity; known and understood to the best of our ability this side of Paradise.  Not just for our own faith, but to share with all who will hear that our God is the only God who loves, and thus because of the Trinity. 

As someone who spent a few years curiously picking up random literature with a focus on the Trinity, and putting them down because of their complexity, I was delighted to have Michael Reeves book arrived in our mailbox.  As soon as my husband opened the package and showed his excitement over the content, the book was snatched from his hand to mine and the pages were turning.  It came at just the right time, as I had felt a pressing need to delve into the truth of the Trinity for months, but I wasn't sure with which book to begin.  And here it was, delivered to our house.  It was just what this disciple of Christ needed to begin her journey with the Trinity, and Love.

With witty writing, strong evidence from the writings of early church fathers and historians, as well as clear and precise explanations to accompany historical writings, Reeves has written a book that is easy to read, yet makes the reader stop periodically to ponder the content.  I would describe it as Trinity 101.  I hope the following details of the book will encourage you to read it for yourself and use it as a springboard to study the being and nature of God. 

I begin with a quote from the Introduction:  “….what we assume would be a dull or peculiar irrelevance turns out to be the source of all that is good in Christianity.  Neither a problem nor a technicality, the triune being of God is the vital oxygen of Christian life and joy” [p. 18].  Reeves goes on to say that his hope and prayer, as the reader goes forth into his book, is that the “knowledge of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit will breathe fresh live into you.” 
[p. 18] If read with the full intent to know God more, the answer to his prayer will find its fullness in you.

Throughout the book, Reeves adopts a writing style of repeating and building, repeating and building.  For some this may seem a weary read, but I argue that it is necessary.  What is continually repeated is that the Father loves the Son, and that love is through the Spirit.  This is repeated in every chapter and built upon so that one understands: if the Father were God alone, there would be no love because it would be a selfish love; the Son has always existed with the Father so that there is One who loves and One who is loved; there cannot be love with a mutual Spirit of love.  Love is found pure in the Trinity; and because the love the Father has for the Son was so beautiful and pure, it was shared through creation and given to the creatures made in His image.  In that love we have the beauty of creation.  We have the beauty of salvation.  We have the beauty of a Christian life empowered by the Spirit, given by the Father and Son, because of love.

Brilliantly, Reeves takes the reader into the final chapter (and the 5th one at that!) to challenge atheistic arguments such as those found in Christopher Hitchen’s book God is Not Great (that God is a Ruler, a Big Brother, a Stalin-in-the-sky) as well as the New Age and neo-paganism dislike and foundation that God is greedy, selfish, and a huge bore.  Reeves also addresses evil and God’s wrath in this chapter.  We quickly come to understand that the Trinity answers these counterfeit claims of God’s being extremely well and Reeves allows the reader to build strong support for such claims.  This is accomplished through the repeating and building of the book from the introduction to the conclusion.  The last paragraph of the last chapter thus begins, “And so we come to where we started: Jesus as the bright lane to knowledge of the true God. As the Glorious Spirit-anointed Son, he reveals the Father.  He reveals God to be Father, Son and Spirit – and thus he reveals the only God who is love, and he shows us the true glory of that love on the cross.  In him we see a God far beyond the bores and tyrants we all rush to reject.  In him we see the good God.  And how good he is" [p. 128]!

A strong and full introduction, five chapters written with wit and wisdom, and a challenging conclusion to the one who names himself a disciple of Christ comprises this book.  It allowed this reader to finally begin to truly grasp that God is love.  We live with dim reflections here in this fallen world, but we do have a choice as to how dim that reflection is by how much we delight and desire to know God.  This book will allow the dimness to decrease a few more degrees; it will allow the reader to see more fully the God who allowed him to see in the first place.

This book review was written by Danielle Gross.  She holds a Master's Degree in Elementary Education and is a homemaker.  She also home schools our two girls.

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