Getting to Grips with the Godhead – some recommendations on the Trinity

One of most common things I’m asked about is whether I can recommend a good book on the Trinity.

The Trinity is who God is, and who God has revealed Gods-self to be. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit – not some abstract, nerdy idea, but a powerful reality that changes the way we live. When we meet God, we are transformed, and a key part of this is stepping into the glorious truth that God is Triune.

Dallas Willard once said:

The advantage of believing in the Trinity is not that we get an A from God for knowing the right answer. The advantage of believing in the Trinity is that we then live as if the Trinity is real, as if the cosmos around us is actually beyond all else a community of unspeakable magnificent personal beings of boundless love, knowledge and power

Don’t engage with the Trinity for the sake of knowing something, but dig deeply in order to better know someone.

So, without further ado, a couple of common questions and some books that could help you start to answer them:

I don’t understand God as Trinity – why should I care?

The brilliant Mike Reeves has an answer, both in the title and the meat of his book The Good God: Enjoying Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This is a readable and beautiful book. For an even shorter way in, his Enjoying Your Prayer Life has some good stuff on the Trinity, too.

The Trinity isn’t in the Bible – why should I believe it? What difference does it make?

This is a great question – and recently a book came out that seeks to do two things; firstly, show why from the New Testament Christians believe in the Trinity, and secondly the practical application of it. Edited by Carl Trueman and Brandon D. Crowe, The Essential Trinity: New Testament foundations and practical relevance is a pretty thick book, but it makes a great way in to really understanding why we believe what we believe.

Isn’t the Trinity a made-up/polytheistic nonsense? Is it authentically Christian, like the early church?

Alister McGrath’s great little book The Living God is an excellent short whistle-stop tour of what Christians believe about God. Naturally, the Trinity is key to that understanding! For a brilliant but concise overview of how the Church recognised the Trinity, do read the first few chapters of Bruce Ware’s Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

For a great little video showing why the Trinity is so important for understanding the Gospel, and, well everything, my friend Glen Scrivener made this:

Oh, and if you are still here, here are a pair of bonus questions linked to the recommendations…

What about ‘The Shack’?

The Shack is a publishing phenomenon – the novel that became a movie and still sells in the tens of thousands. Working, as I do, in Christian publishing, The Shack comes up often. Lots of people I know and love really appreciate William Paul Young’s novel. I personally don’t think it is a helpful book for understanding the Trinity, so I’d recommend you check out Tim Challies well known review, or the pretty firm review.

Does ‘heresy’ really matter? What even is ‘heresy’?

The word ‘heresy’ has a complex set of issues attached to it. If you are serious about thinking about this, then Justin Holcomb’s Know the Heretics is a great little book to start with. If you really want to branch out into reading about heresy, then Heresies and How to Avoid Them edited by Ben Quash and Michael Ward is a brilliant bringing-together of a range of orthodox theological perspectives on what heresy is, and why it should be avoided.

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