Sunday, December 11, 2005
Review: The Trinity
During the past year I've been exploring the doctrine of the trinity from various practical and theological perspectives. The book that has helped me the most from the theological perspective is The Trinity: Understanding God's love, His plan of salvation, and Christian relationships. I blogged about one of the discoveries I made in this book in my post "Water of Life".
The purpose of The Trinity is to defend the Adventist doctrine of the trinity from attacks from within and without. The book is the result of a collaboration of three professors at the Adventist Theological Seminary. Woodrow Whidden assesses the Biblical evidence for and against the doctrine, John Reeve covers the development on the doctrine from the second through sixteenth centuries, and Jerry Moon traces the doctrine from the reformation to American Protestantism and finally the Adventist church. The book concludes with a short section on practical implications by Whidden.
All four sections of The Trinity make for a compelling read if you are interested in the topic, and the fact that the word "trinity" is never used in the Bible means that most Christians would do well to give this topic some serious, critical thought. I was especially impressed by the section on the Biblical evidence and by the chapter that covered the development of the doctrine in the writings of Ellen White, both of which presented plenty of primary evidence with insightful analysis. I should also say that I've never found early church history as interesting than it was in connection with the doctrine of the trinity.
My only major beef with The Trinity is that I wouldn't be able to give it to anyone who doesn't believe in the trinity. The authors (especially Whidden) use such a confrontational, apologetic tone that the defenses of any anti-Trinitarian would be raised to the place where they would have difficulty maintaining an open mind. This book seems to have been written with the questioning Adventist in mind, yet even I sometimes wondered if there wasn't some angle the authors weren't presenting because it would have been out of line with their doctrinal understanding.
Question of the trinity touches on many other aspects of Christianity (e.g. the atonement, the nature of Christ) that I believe that a solid understanding of it is important for every Christian. I would recommend The Trinity to any Adventist reader seeking a better understanding of the doctrine. The discussion of John 1:1 and of Ellen White's writings on the trinity alone make this book a recommended resource.