The hubs picked this book up at Shalom Christian Media, and kept exclaiming about how good it is as he read it. When he finished it, he passed it to me as compulsory reading (haha).
Ostensibly a book about the theological intricacies of the Trinity, it was also intensely applicable. For how we know God does have an impact on how we live our lives.
My favourite quote that sums up this book, is by Robin Parry, who says “This amazing little book dances like a butterfly and stings like a bee.”
It does indeed! There aren’t many serious theological books (especially those of the Reformed Puritan bent as this one is) that are written in modern, relatable way with sharp wit. I put it down to the fact that author Michael Reeves is British, and Head of Theology of UCCF (an organisation close to my heart) when he wrote the book.
The book challenged me to stop thinking of the Trinity as an ‘oddity and a problem’ instead of ‘a solution and a delight’. It is not something complicated and virtually incomprehensible. The trinity is ‘not some inexplicable apparent nonsense like a square circle. Rather, because the Triune God revealed Himself, we can understand the Trinity’.
Reading this book made me realise that the word ‘Trinity’ indeed never appears in the bible. Yet, it is a foundational belief for the Christian. Church theologians were not trying to add to God’s revelation of Himself, but were trying to express the truth of who God is as revealed in scripture.
Personally, I find the Holy Spirit the most difficult person of the Holy Trinity to understand. Reeves says there is the impression that ‘the Spirit must be a power I am to get hold of and use as I get on with my life. …And if I manage to use the Spirit more than other Christians, hurrah for spiritual me.’
But the truth is that the Holy Spirit dwells in our hearts, and He sees every act we do by day or under cover of the night; He sees every thought we entertain, even a momentary lodging in our mind, and if there is anything unholy, impure, unjust, petty or evil act or word or thought, He is grieved by it. (RA Torrey, excerpts)
The Spirit’s personal presence in us means we are brought to enjoy the Spirit’s own intimate communion with the Father and Son.
The Spirit stays to make the gift of life blossom and grow. Tyndale said, ‘where the Spirit is, there is always summer.’ He quickens us with life, and warms our hearts towards the Father and Son.
Romans 5:5 ‘God has poured His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit.’
John 15:26 – the Holy Spirit will testify about me – He opens our eyes to see the glory of God and that is how He comforts us.
Reeves’ writing on Creation particularly resonated with me.
The Father rejoices to have another beside him, and he finds his very self in pouring out that love. Creation is about the diffusion and outward explosion of that love.
If we had existed to be slaves, creation would simply provide the raw materials to get the work-gang going. As it is, there is something gratituous about creation, an unnecessary abundance of beauty, and through its blossoms and pleasures we can revel in the sheer largesse of the Father.
Although it is a very slim volume (107 pages), he addresses a broad range of topics such as atheism, Islam, refutes the Gnostics, explains the views of ancient theologians such as Athanasius, and has helpful references to John Calvin, Jonathan Edwards and CS Lewis.
I found the book a bit weighty on the ‘lavish love of God’ as manifested in the Trinity. It dwells at length on issues such as how “it was the very rejection of God that then drew forth the extreme depths of his love”, but I suppose it was deliberate, to counter fusty impressions of God as a capricious tyrant.
I leave you with this final excerpt, and hope you will also be led to read this book!
Yet Christianity is not primarily about lifestyle change; it is about knowing God.
…getting to know God better does actually make for far more profound and practical change as well.
In fact, we will see that 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.
p.s. Check out the caption for John Owen’s ancient portrait.