Recent years of scholarship have surfaced some terrific books on the doctrine of the Trinity. Father, Son, & Holy Spirit: Relationships, Roles & Relevance by Bruce A. Ware is among the best. Dr. Bruce Ware defines and defends the doctrine of the Trinity with biblical precision, Christ-exalting passion, and theological muscle.
Chapter one unfolds the importance of the doctrine. Ware draws the reader in by illustrating ten reasons to focus on the “wonder of the Trinity.” Readers are given a treasure-trove of ammunition that not only demonstrates the rationale of this doctrine; it shows the practical ramifications for marriage, career, and relationships in the local church.
Chapter two surveys the long history of the doctrine. The author shows why the early Christians accepted the Trinitarian formulation. His explanation is rooted in both Scripture and the writings of the church fathers.
Chapters 3-5 takes an in-depth look at the respective roles of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Dr. Ware makes it clear throughout his treatment that “every essential attribute of God’s nature is possessed by the Father, Son, and Spirit equally and fully.” Each chapter concludes with practical and powerful points of application. There is no abstraction here. Dr. Ware is concerned with linking truth with the affections and God-centered response.
Chapter six develops a theme that was originally explored by Christian thinkers like Augustine and Jonathan Edwards, namely – the Trinity as society or as Dr. Ware puts it, “in relational community.” Ten key principles are presented that need to be fully digested and applied in the real world.
Dr. Ware has done in invaluable service for the church in this book. He has unpacked the doctrine of the Trinity in a way that is clear and biblical. He has skillfully applied this essential doctrine in a way that can strengthen a Reformed spirituality among believers. And he has rightfully challenged the egalitarian movement with the biblical antidote that should define a new generation of Evangelicals.
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.
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.
ON THE EQUALITY OF THE PERSONS OF THE TRINITY
In this short, untitled fragment that was originally written on a salvaged letter cover, Edwards demonstrates how “the personal glory of each of the persons of the Trinity is equal, though each one, as they have a distinct personality, have a distinct glory.”
Edwards argues that the divine essence of the Trinity is undivided and independent in two senses:
1. “With respect to its being, but not with respect to its relative being … that the divine essence should be what it is, is not in any respect in any dependence or by derivation.”
2. “The divine essence is independent and underived in another respect, i.e. it is not dependent on any arbitrament or voluntary communication.”
In typical Edwardsean fashion, he is delving deeply into the mystery of the Trinity. He reiterates the importance of understanding the three person distinction and the equality among the members of the godhead.
DISCOURSE ON THE TRINITY
Jonathan Edwards usually does not waste time in getting to his point. This work is no exception. He begins his discourse on the Trinity: “When we speak of God’s happiness, the account that we are wont to give of it is that God is infinitely happy in the enjoyment of himself, in perfectly beholding and infinitely loving, and rejoicing in, his own essence and perfections.”
Edwards continues in this vein: “God undoubtedly infinitely loves and delights in himself and is infinitely happy in the understanding and view of his own glorious essence … The infinite happiness of the Father consists in the enjoyment of his Son.” Edwards maintains, “The sum of all God’s love is his love to himself.”
Edwards proceeds to unpack three key truths that pertain to the Son of God: (1) Christ is called the wisdom of God. (2) Christ is called the logos of God. (3) Christ is called the Amen, which is a Hebrew word that signifies truth.
Edwards argues that the essence of the Trinity is love (1 John 4:8). “Now the sum of God’s temper or disposition is love, for he is infinite love … This is the divine disposition or nature that we are made partakers of; for our partaking or communion with God consists in the communion or partaking of the Holy Ghost.” The Spirit quickens, enlivens, and beautifies all things, and in the final analysis seeks to sanctify, comfort, and delight the people of God.
Standing with the historic position of the Western church and holds that the Son is begotten by the Father, and the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father and Son. The members of this society or family are co-equal and co-eternal.
In typical Edwardsean fashion, our author reminds us of the beauty, majesty, and authority of the Triune God – “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever. Amen” (Rom. 11:36).