This is another great introductory read on the Trinity. With similar brevity, yet also similar density, to Reeves’ book, Chester presents his material in a slightly different way. Chester came to realise that many Christians, including himself, were almost embarrassed by the Trinity - unsure what it means to worship God, Son and Spirit and how to explain it, so he avoided it. However, because the Trinity is key to our understanding of God, and that God actually reveals himself as Trinity and acts as Trinity, we realise that the Trinity is key to our faith.
The study of the doctrine of the Trinity readily tips over into worship. We are left with a profound sense of awe as we gaze upon our great God. And such worship leads to godly living. (p8)
Chester has structured his book into 3 sections:
In Part One: The Biblical Foundations he talks about God is presented as unity in the bible, then how he is presented as plurality in the bible, and then how both unity and plurality are combined at the cross. This was a helpful section and also highlighted the various mistakes which have been made (such as an unwilling son forced to go the cross by the father, or an unwilling to forgive father being placated by the son).
Part 2: Historical Developments charted history in three phases: 2-4thC being about God’s actions vs God’s being as being the differentiating factors in understanding the Trinity; 5th-16thC with the discussion generally starting with either God as one or God as three. The final stage in the 17th-20thC where the Trinity has either been at the centre of theological thought or moved out to the margins. This was quite helpful, and having read Reeves’ book as well, it has helped me to understand the history of thought more.
Part 3: Practical Implications is where it becomes reality for how we respond now to the Trinity. He covers four areas where the Trinity has key implications: revelation, salvation, humanity and mission.
These sections were very helpful, and were the chapters that I ended up reading twice. Some of the comments that resonated with me were:
God is personal because he exists eternally in the triune relationship. Personhood is about relationships and reciprocity. God cannot be solitary. If the one God is not a community of persons, then He cannot be personal and if He is not personal, then we cannot know Him. God is knowable because he is relational, and He is relational because He exists as three persons in a relationship. (p130)
The doctrine of the Trinity protects the gracious character of God’s love. God is not only loving, He is love for He is an eternal community of loving relationships. (p152)
Human beings, made in the image of he triune God, likewise find their identity in their relationship with others. We do not “find ourselves” by separating ourselves, but in relationship. (p172)
We are not to make any image of God for God Himself has made an image of Himself in the world - humanity... God’s redeemed people are His image in the world. The challenge is this: When does the world see our community life?... would they recognise the community as a work of God and a sign of His grace? (p184-5)
These two books have given me much food for thought and much more confidence in speaking about and wondering at the key truths of our triune God.