Friday, July 29, 2016

remarks on "God the Trinity: Biblical Portraits"

              One of the great 'mysteries of the faith'  for Christians involves the Trinity. The concept of a triune God is difficult for most people, including pastors, to understand.  For years people have used apples, eggs,  and even balloons to try to teach about how the 3 persons of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and are actually one. Sometimes it seems to work , and other times the student is left just as  confused as he or she was before the lesson.  Even the simple explanations of "3-in-purpose--one  in essence" or "Creator-Redeemer-Sanctifier" tend to  is less than helpful in helping people truly understand.

                Because of the lack of understanding, many pastors tend to gloss over the 3rd person in the Trinity: Holy Spirit.  We pray "Our Father who art in Heaven". We celebrate Jesus' birth, life, death, and especially the Resurrection, but Holy Spirit tends to be forgotten, except on Pentecost Sunday, or in Pentecostal churches.  In fact in his Prologue, the author comments on a survey "which gives credence to [a] controversial claim that " most Baptists are Unitarians who simply have not gotten around to denying the Trinity."

                Against this background of misunderstanding and confusion when it comes to an understanding of the Trinity,  Malcolm Yarnell III, professor of systematic theology, among other titles, has written God the Trinity: Biblical Portraits (B&H Academic, 2016).  He has two stated questions that he hopes to answer in  this book: Is the Doctrine that God is Trinity a biblical doctrine? And is it a doctrine that is necessary to believe?

                Although the writing style is overly academic for a casual read, the subject matter almost demands such an approach.  At times though, it seemed to me that Yarnell was even more wordy than the academic approach calls for.  A few rabbit trails could have been left out. Especially helpful were footnotes instead of endnotes especially when the note did more than cite someone else's work.

                Yarnell addresses 8 different scriptures that describe the Trinitarian nature of God, how the 3 persons work together, and ends with a portrait of the God who will come. In each of his portraits, he is able to make a strong case for his thesis that the Trinity is Biblical doctrine, and that it is necessary to grasp that doctrine in order to  fully experience,  appreciate, and understand  the Gospel Story.

                The epilogue is also especially helpful: after a careful exegesis of each text, the author has drawn several "general theological conclusions"  concerning the trinity. I mention this because all too often the tendency is to skip over things like introductions, prologues and epilogues.  Sometimes that works, in this case, the reader would truly be missing an important piece of the overall work.  Since Yarnell use portraits, painting, art as metaphor, let me putting it this way. Skipping over the prologue and the epilogue would be like looking at a painting and not seeing any yellow or red.

                If you're looking for some light reading, this is not the book for you. If you are truly interested in learning more about the Trinitarian God, this book is a must read. 5/5

                I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a review. I was not required to post a positive review. 

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