Archive for February 10th, 2014

Our Triune God Living in the Love of the Three-in-One

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I was using this book as part of a discipleship with a brother at our church in which we were going over the doctrine of the Trinity and implications of the Trinity for the Christian life and worship.  The size of this work is great for a small theological devotional, coming in at 114 page of content.  This book is written by Philip Ryken and Michael Lefebvre, with Ryken being the better known author who is currently the senior minister at the historic Tenth Presbyterian Church and also president of WheatonCollege.  This work is theological but also pastoral as well.  The book has four chapters with the first one on the Trinity’s role in salvation.  For those familiar with the Trinity’s role in our salvation there isn’t necessarily anything new in this chapter.  I thought the best chapters of the book were chapters two and three.  Chapter two dealt with the mysterious Trinity and focused on two objections people have concerning the doctrine of the Trinity, what the authors called the logical and theological problem of the Trinity.  The logical problem refer to the objection people have that the Trinity seems to be paradoxical if not contradictory.  The chief point that the authors made in this section is that the issue of the Trinity isn’t really an issue of a logical problem per se but what they call an analogical problem; that is, people’s dilemma with the Trinity is with the fact that the Trinity lacks any analogy to anything else in human experience.  This is a powerful apologetic point since the chapter goes on to argue that when people come to understand something new they initially try to understand it based upon previous knowledge and experiences that is familiar.  With the Trinity there is a lack of any adequate analogies from the realm of human experience but that doesn’t mean we should dismiss it outright since there are other areas of knowledge that we struggle to provide adequate analogy to previous knowledge.  The theological problem focuses more on whether the New Testament introduce a foreign and alien doctrine of the Trinity that is incompatible with the Old Testament’s monotheism.  Here Ryken and Lefebvre gives an excellent survey of Old Testament passages that suggests an inner-plurality with the Godhead along with some of the Jewish historical interpretations that support the thesis that these interpretations are not invented by Christians but has its precedence among the Jews before Jesus.  Very fascinating and enjoyable to see the interaction the authors had with Jewish rabbinic sources!  Chapter three is on the Practical Trinity and goes over the Upper Room Discourse in John 13-17 which the book teaches is a passage that is “one of the most penetrating presentation of Trinitarian theology anywhere in the Scriptures” (60).  I never realized the truth of this before and it was an edifying read though I wished if the book was longer there could have better exposition of the passage.  It isn’t the best book on the Trinity I read but it is still a work I can recommend.  I recommend one also read Bruce Ware’s and Robert Morey’s work on the Trinity.

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