Book Review: Delighting in the Trinity

Delighting in the Trinity by Michael Reeves (Downers Grove, Ill: IVP, 2012)

The quick review: read this book.

The longer review: Michael Reeves has attempted to give us a readable book about the Christian doctrine of the trinity and not only make it sound understandable, but essential for the Christian understanding of God and his gospel.

Reeves’ thesis, I believe, can be summed up with this quote.

If God is not Father, Son and Spirit then he is eminently rejectable: without love, radiance or beauty.  Who would want such a God to have any power, or even exist?  But the triune, living God of the Bible is Beauty.  Here is a God we can really want, and whose sovereignty we can wholeheartedly rejoice on.  (pp111-12)

There are some important things to note about this.  Firstly, for Reeves, the trinity is all about God.  The doctrine is not something that we use to try and resolve an inconvenient dilemma about how Jesus can be God and yet there is also a Father.  It tells us who God is.

Secondly, throughout the book Reeves repeatedly uses the word ‘beauty’ to describe God and the trinity.  This kept wrong footing me because I am not used to the word coming up in a theological book like this.  On one hand I think he uses it well and the wrong footing for me was a chance to stop and think.  On the other hand I don’t see the term being used as a repeatedly in Scripture (though I am sure people will now fill the comments section with Biblical references).

I think the best thing I got out of this book was how the trinity helps me understand the gospel around the idea of love.  That sin is stopping being lovers of others and becoming lover of the self.  That the character of God is to be loving of the other within the trinity and then towards creation and humanity.

This book is probably best for mature Christians, leaders and professionals in ministry.  I found it very readable, but reading through other reviews, not everyone did.  Being readable, it was also very meaty.  There is a lot to stop and think about in terms of God, his character and his gospel, and I am looking forward to reading this in a group.

Throughout the book there are several asides from church history and other theologians.  I appreciated these nods to historical theology but if you were reading this with a young Christian or a group of youngish Christians these could be tangents that need to be explained.

A trial of the first chapter can be found here.


Review: A Little History of Philosophy

Nigel Warburton is one of the hosts of the podcast Philosophy Bites.  He has been a lecturer and writer about philosophy and this book shows he knows his stuff.

In A Little History of Philosophy Warburton takes us through a number of philosophers (some chapters have more than one, one philosopher has two chapters) over the course of several thousand years, from Socrates to Peter Singer.  Each chapter is only about 7 pages long and does not take much to digest.

The joy of this book is that each chapter is an accessible and concise summary of the philosopher.  Warburton is a master of making complex ideas understandable to the average person, both in this book and in his interviews in the podcast.  Warburton even has a short paragraph at the end of the chapter, linking us to the next, leaving a tantalising taste of what is to come and showing that each philosopher does not exist in a vacuum, but in a line, a history.
The frustration of the book is that because each of the chapters are so short you only get a small insight into the philosophy of the person, which means that sometimes there are things that are more sophisticated than Warburton can present.  Some of the philosophers have contributed more than Warburton has space to explain.  This is not his fault, it is the fault of the project.  Some, who I am more familiar with, are presented more positively than I would have liked and some more negatively than I would have liked as much as Warbutron has worked to be neutral in his presentations.
This is one of those books that everyone should read.  It is accessible and easy to read.  More importantly it introduces us to the world of why do we think what we think.  Further this should be seen as an introduction to further investigation to areas of thinking that we need to find out more about.
As Socrates famously said “the unexamined life is not worth living”.