[This post is part of the Doctrine: What Christians Should Believe series]
I like that Doctrine starts with the Trinity, as usually systematic theologies will begin with Bibliology, or worldview issues. As I understand, this is covered at a later section in the book, specifically, in the next chapter.
This chapter is a pretty good overview, especially for someone who is new to understanding Christian doctrine. I’ve had two entire classes devoted to Trinitarian studies, and for the most part, I found this chapter to summarize the main issues pretty well and to then defend, from the Bible, an orthodox conception of God as Trinity.
For someone interested in digging into this topic philosophically and at a greater depth, I would recommend The Doctrine of God by John Frame. His series interestingly begins with epistemology, before moving to Trinity. This is probably more satisfactory philosophically, but since Doctrine is aiming to be a primer for newer Christians, it just jumps right in (but discussion of philosophical issues is not completely absent)
Each of these chapters is arranged as answers to questions (kind of like a catechism), so in this chapter, the following questions are addressed:
- What is the Trinity?
- What is the Trinitarian God of the Bible like?
- Does the Trinity appear in the Old Testament?
- Does the Trinity appear in the New Testament?
- What is the history of the doctrine of the Trinity?
- Why should we study the doctrine of the Trinity?
- What are the major doctrinal errors regarding the Trinity?
- What are the practical implications of the Trinity?
Understandably, thorough answers to each of those questions cannot be undertaken in the space of roughly 25pgs (consider that Frame’s book is over 850pgs). But overall, Driscoll does a good job. The only weak spot, I think, is his treatment of the Trinity in the Old Testament. The reason I say this is not because the doctrine itself is foreign in the Old Testament, but rather, it is something we can only see in the text now because what we understand of the New Testament. So, when Driscoll states that “It is evident that the people of God understood the fundamental concepts of the Trinity long before Jesus was born,” it is misleading and not very highly supported by actual evidence. Part of the reason Jesus was executed was his claims to divinity. The Jewish view of God as one was so strong that the possibility of even a Bi-nity was blasphemous. It seems in reality then, seeing the concept of the Trinity in the Old Testament is something we can do in retrospect given all the data we have now, but was not something that the Old Testament believer would have discerned on their own in their time and place. This is an issue in hermeneutics, and maybe at some point, I’ll devote an entire post to it.
Other than that though, Trinity: God Is presents a good snapshot of what has been the historic Christian view of the Trinity, answering what the Bible teaches on the subject and why it is important to Christians. The catalogue of heresies is pretty basic, but deals adequately with the early and essential ones, as those tend to get re-incarnated from time to time and never seem to quite go away. To deal thoroughly with a core Christian doctrine of this magnitude in 25 pages is quite a feat, but certainly, this is just an introduction and curious readers should definitely explore the topic more elsewhere.