For the past couple of months I have been using Sunday postings on this site to feature reviews of books I wrote a while ago, probably before most of you began reading the site. I reviewed some awfully good books while I was the only person who bothered reading this site and thought it might be a valuable exercise to share some of those reviews. I believe I have just about reache the end of these archived reviews. I’ll wrap it up today with a review of an excellent book I reviewed just about a year ago. I was attempting to work my way through Crossway’s recent publications and asked my contact at the publisher if there was a book in their catalog that he felt was an overlooked treasure – a book that deserved far more recognition than it had received. He suggested Father, Son & Holy Spirit by Bruce Ware. I knew of Bruce Ware from his excellent critique of Open Theism in Their God is Too Small (which was a condensed version of a larger work on the same subject, God’s Lesser Glory). A quick look at Amazon showed only one reader review which seems to prove that this book was, indeed, overlooked.
Having read the book I agree with Crossway’s assessment. This book is a treasure and one that deserves to be read, absorbed and appreciated. It is a thorough but readable study of the Trinity, their Relationships, Roles and Relevance. The final word of that, the book’s subtitle, is what sets this book apart. Ware does more than merely provide a defense of the doctrine of the Trinity. Each aspect of the doctrine is accompanied by an explanation of why this doctrine is relevant and how the reader can apply this to his life. This is a perfect example of practical theology – taking theology out of the realm of knowledge and making it a part of our lives.
Like many books on theological subject matters, this one began as a series of sessions delivered at a conference. The five one-hour speeches have been adapted into a 167-page, six-chapter book. The first chapter deals with the importance of the doctrine of the Trinity. Ware correctly asserts that few things can be more important than studying and understanding, in so far as we are able, the character and persons of God. “It is my hope and prayer that, through this study, we will be able to hear the voice of the Lord helping us to understand the beauty and glory of the God whom we already know as God. But do we know him as we should? Do we know him as he truly is?” (page 14). The second chapter provides an overview of the historical development of the doctrine as Christians came to a deeper understanding of biblical truths through the history of the church.
The heart of the book is in chapters three, four and five. There is one chapter dedicated to each of the three persons of God. In particular, Ware examines the relationships of the members to each other. While each member of the Trinity is fully God, what defines one from the other is their particular roles and relationships. For example, the way in which the Son relates to the Father is presented in clear contrast to the Son’s relationship with the Holy Spirit. In each chapter the reader is led to marvel at the wonder that is our God. Each chapter concludes with a section where the author provides application of all that he has taught about the relationships within the Trinity.
The final chapter encourages the believer to behold the wonder of the triune persons in relational community. The chapter is composed of ten “lessons for our lives and ministries from the relationships and roles of the triune God.” Each lesson is practical, understandable and biblical.
What can I say? Taking theology to the masses does not get much better than this. Bruce Ware has taken his extensive knowledge of this doctrine and provided it to the church in a format that anyone can enjoy and understand. There is enough content to challenge any believer, but it is simple enough that none need be intimidated by it. This is the best book I’ve read on the Trinity and I simply can’t recommend it highly enough.