Several months ago, a friend of mine recommended that I read Delighting in the Trinity by Michael Reeves. He said it was the best book on the Trinity that he had read in a long time. I must agree. It has been about two months since I finished this book and I am just now getting to review it. I did not want to write much on it until I had a chance to meditate on its truths for some time.
Reeves subtitles this book, "An Introduction to the Christian Faith", which seemed to me a rather curious thought. Not many of us would say the doctrine of the Trinity, let alone our delighting in the Trinity, is the place to start when it comes to the Christian Faith. But Reeves argues it is the only place to start. He states in his introduction:
"Christianity is not primarily about lifestyle change; it is about knowing God. To know and grow to enjoy him is what we are saved for--and that is what we are going to press into here . . . the triune nature of this God affects everything from how we listen to music to how we pray; it makes for happier marriages, warmer dealings with others, better church life; it gives Christians assurance, shapes holiness and transforms the very way we look at the world around us. No exaggeration: the knowledge of this God turns lives around" (10).
The rest of the book is his attempt to show how a biblical understanding of the Trinity can change the way we view all relationships in life.
We define Trinity as three in one. There is only one God, which means we are monotheists. But that is not enough when it comes to understanding our God. He is deeper than that. He is three persons: Father, Son, and Spirit. At some levels it is very right in saying that Christians believe in one God. But at other levels, that will not suffice. Reeves says,
"If we content ourselves with being mere monotheists, and speak of God only in terms so vague they could apply to Allah as much as the Trinity, then we will never enjoy or share what is so fundamentally and delightfully different about Christianity" (18).
The book is divided into five chapters on how the Trinity interacts among each other and how this relationship affects the Christian life.
- Chapter 1: What Was God Doing Before Creation?
- Chapter 2: Creation: The Father's Love Overflows.
- Chapter 3: Salvation: The Son Shares What Is His.
- Chapter 4: The Christian Life: The Spirit Beautifies.
- Chapter 5: "Who Among the Gods Is Like You, O Lord?"
Each chapter contains its own gems of knowledge. The Trinity's interaction before Creation shows us how God was pursuing and loving each other before all time. He did not create because He needed relationship, but already had it fully and perfectly. He created to share and pour forth to others what He already had with each other in the Trinity. And then the Father sends the Son as an outpouring of His love for His Son.
"The Father sent his Son to make himself known--meaning not that he wanted simply to download some information about himself, but that the love the Father eternally had for the Son might be in those who believe in him, and that we might enjoy the Son as the Father always has. Here, then, is a salvation no single-person God could offer even if they wanted to: the Father so delights in his eternal love for the Son that he desires to share it with all who will believe. Ultimately, the Father sent the Son because the Father so loved the Son--and wanted to share that love and fellowship. His love for the world is the overflow of his almighty love for his Son" (69-70).
And on and on the book goes about what it means that God is Trinity. He pours out. He pursues. He moves. And that stands as a basis for our understanding of Him. It stands as a introduction to the Christian faith because when we understand that God perfectly loves in Himself and then moves to share that love with others, we are learning the foundation of what it means to live the Christian life.
Towards the end of the book, he vividly paints the picture of Jesus on the cross being being the perfect example of God perfectly pouring out of love towards us.
"In 1882 Friedrich Nietzsche boldly announced the death of God. By that he meant that belief in God is simply no longer viable. He meant it to be an end to all faith. In actual fact, though, 'God is dead' is where true faith begins. For, on the cross, Christ the Glory puts to death all false ideas of God; and as he cries out to his Father and offers himself up by the Spirit (Heb 9:14), breathing out his last, he reveals a God beyond our dreams. Through the cross we see a God who is infinitely better" (127-128).
His word pictures are helpful and convicting. It has to change the way I relate and move towards people. If it doesn't, I wonder how much I really know or understand about God.
Before reading this book, I thought I had a very high view of God. But after reading it, I felt as if I have just barely touched the surface of understanding what kind of a God I serve. This is most definitely one of the top books I have read the past year. He writes at a fairly deep level, but puts the truths into words that are understandable. And his sarcastic writing style keeps you interested as you make your way through a very hard concept to understand.
I would highly recommend this book to anyone who calls themselves Christian. But I warn you, the truths that you learn about the Trinity will probably force you to think about how you love and pursue one another. It just might change the way you relate to your family and friends. But then again, that's why we read books . . . to be changed.