As a general rule, I’m always keeping my eye out for new and interesting books on the Trinity. Even more importantly, I try to keep an eye out for books on the Trinity geared toward the popular level reader. When I saw IVP Academic had released Delighting In The Trinity: An Introduction to the Christian Faith and that it was roughly 130 pages, I knew I needed to not only get my hands on a review copy, but a giveaway copy as well. They thankfully agreed, and so here we are.
The layout of Delighting In The Trinity is surprisingly simple. After a brief introduction presenting the dangers of discussing the Trinity, author Michael Reeves’ first chapter asks the question, “What Was God Doing Before Creation?”
While this might seem like a little bit of hubris after just discussing the dangers (which Reeves compares to dragons), it actually helps set the context well for the rest of the book. What Reeves does is explain that before any kind of creative activity, there was a Father loving a Son. God then is eternally loving and life giving and this Father-Son relationships starts a “waterfall of love” (28) that spills over into creation.
The flow of the rest of the book then spends a chapter on each person of the Trinity in turn:
- Creation: The Father’s Love Overflows
- Salvation: The Son Shares What Is His
- The Christian Life: The Spirit Beautifies
Each of these chapters leads right into the next in a way that really unpacks the trinitarian logic that is the foundation of our Christian faith. After reading these chapters, I think one would be hard pressed to see the Trinity as an peripheral concern for the Christian life. Rather, Reeves shows clearly how the doctrine of God as Trinity lies right at the heart of what we believe as Christians.
The final chapter underscores the importance of viewing God as a loving Father, Son, and Spirit. Reeves even suggests that it is perhaps no coincidence that the rise of atheism coincides with a decline in trinitarian thought (110). Some of the critiques of atheism actually hold if they are directed against a non-trinitarian god. However, we don’t worship a non-trinitarian God, and Reeves closes out the book summarizing well the kind of God we do worship.
Given the intended scope of the book, I would consider it pretty much all strength. It is written in a clear, readable style and it even has pictures scattered throughout. To be fair, the pictures are mostly images of historical figures, but there is at least one picture of Thor (though you’ll have to read for yourself to see how that relates to anything). Equally scattered throughout are inserts and sidebars that explain important trinitarian discussions and controversies throughout the history of the church. These help orient new readers of theology to the fact that this isn’t a new doctrine, much less a new topic of discussion in the church. It also helps to anchor Reeves’ presentation as one coming in a long line of orthodox reflection on the doctrine of the Trinity.
To sum up, I think this is book every Christian should read. Really there is no reason why you couldn’t given how short the book is. Just about any busy schedule can accommodate this book, and just about anyone can spiritually benefit from Reeves’ exposition of this foundational doctrine. I was surprised myself at how much he was able to say in such a short space. It was also a great refresher for me personally on the practical importance of the Trinity for Christian life and growth.
Hopefully for many readers, this will be a good introduction to not just the Christian faith, but to the doctrine of God within the Christian faith as well. It should serve the purpose of whetting the appetite for even more reading into who this trinitarian God is. Given how winsome Reeves’ style is, I can’t really think of a better general audience book that will orient readers to the historic Christian faith and the orthodox doctrine of the triune God we worship!
Michael Reeves, Delighting In The Trinity: An Introduction to the Christian Faith. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, July 2012. 135 pp. Paperback, $16.00.
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Thanks to IVP Academic for the review copy!