Roger Olson and Christopher Hall’s The Trinity

I highly recommend Roger Olson and Christopher Hall’s The Trinity.  This book is part of the Eerdman’s Guides to Theology series.  It appears that there are only two contributions thus far to this series (this and one on feminist theology), so I can’t make any comment on the series as a whole.  Regardless, this volume is a very well done and thought-provoking overview of the doctrine of the Trinity throughout the ages.

I’ve been doing a lot of reading on the Trinity lately and trying to think through how a proper understanding of this biblical truth can impact not only our understanding of God, but also our lives together as Christians.  To this end, this book was very helpful insofar as it provides a concise but thorough look at how believers throughout the ages have understood this doctrine.  This is historical theology at its finest.  The snapshots are not so surface level as to be useless, neither are they so dense as to be cumbersome.  They provide, in my opinion, just enough information to give the reader a general but good sense of where Trinitarian thought was going in various ages of the Church’s life.

To me, this would be a good introduction to any study of the Trinity.  It sets the stage and helps us get a big-picture view of where we’ve been and where we’re going with the doctrine of the Trinity.  That’s a view I like to have when studying a particular doctrine.  It gives perspective and context.  And, as none of us arose out of a vacuum, it helps us understand our own minds.

If you’d like to begin studying Trinitarian theology, this would be a great place to begin.

Timothy George’s (ed.) God the Holy Trinity

I was pleasantly surprised by how enjoyable this collection of essays on the Trinity was.  Edited by Timothy George, these essays were originally delivered at The Beeson Divinity School of Samford University.  The contributors are an impressive lot:  Alister McGrath, Gerald Bray, James Earl Massey, Avery Cardinal Dulles, Frederica Mathewes-Green, J.I. Packer, Ellen T. Charry, Cornelius Plantinga, and Timothy George.

The essays approach the Trinity from a number of interesting starting points.  James Earl Massey (a prince of a man!) discusses the Trinity and African-American spirituals.  Avery Cardinal Dulles discusses the Trinity and Christian unity.  In a brief and fascinating essay, Frederica Mathewes-Green discuss the Trinity in the Old Testament.  J.I. Packer gives a very interesting look at Trinitarianism in the thought of John Owen.  Timothy George has penned a very helpful essay on the Trinity and Islam.

As I say, these are compelling essays, and each of them, to varying degrees, is helpful.  The highlights for me are (in this order):  (1) Cornelius Plantinga’s fascinating and soul-stirring sermon, “Deep Wisdom”, (2) Alister McGrath’s balanced and level-headed overview of and cautions concerning modern Trinitarianism, and (3) Timothy George’s careful but clear call for courageous Trinitarianism in the context of conversing with Islam.

I found Ellen Charry’s essay, “The Soteriological Importance of the Divine Perfections”, to be tedious initially, but it ended well and I think I get what she was driving at.  Furthermore, James Earl Massey’s essay, “Faith and Christian Life in the African-American Spirituals”, was good but I do wish it would have been longer.

Get this book.  It will sharpen your thinking about the Trinity.