on 20 April 2012
Trinitarian theology has seen a huge surge in interest in academic circles in recent years, but - sadly - is often functionally absent from the life of local churches and individual Christians. This is a disaster, not because every Christian should be able to complete a tick-box survey demonstrating their theological competence, but because a lack of understanding of God as Trinity is to be fundamentally lacking in understanding about who God is. Period.
The trouble is, discussions of the Trinity can soon become massively complex, and deeply abstract, and very dry. None of these things are failings of which The Good God could be accused. Mike Reeves has written something which is, truly, delightful. I would strongly recommend this book to be read as an aid to devotion and worship, for that is what it produces. You could do a lot worse than to start each morning by reading a couple of pages of this and letting it direct your heart and soul in worship to Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
One of the features of the book I most enjoyed are the panels which delve into historical examples that help illustrate the significance of the doctrine of the Trinity. These range from a brief description of Yodo Shin-Shu Buddhism to the joyful theology of St Hilarius to the `lust for life' of William Tyndale. This is all very illuminating and enjoyable stuff.
But the key thing about this book is the way it stirs worship. Clearly and winsomely Reeves describes the nature of the God who lives in eternal, delightful, loving relationship - a love that has overflowed into the creation of all things, and a love into which we are invited to join. The God Reeves describes is very good, very delightful - a God you want to be close to! As Reeves expresses it in a description of the work of the Holy Spirit, "How great and lovely, then, is the work of the Spirit! He unites us to the Son so that the Father's love for the Son also encompasses us; he draws us to share the Father's own enjoyment of the Son; and he causes us to share the Son's delight in the Father. What could be more delicious than to keep in step with a Spirit whose purpose is that?"
What indeed! A delicious God - that is what Trinitarian theology is meant to bring us to, and it is where this book will help draw you.
Buy it. Read it. Enjoy it!
All of us are called to share and show Jesus to others; whatever else we may do we are Gods ambassadors. A vital question, then, is which God do we present?
Mike Reeves introduces the reader to a loving, giving, overflowing, relational God. With a light and accessible touch, Mike shares a profound taster of just how good God is. Some books on the Trinity can come across as a technical manual of heresies to avoid with little pulsing heart:- thankfully 'The Good God' is not such a book.
Energy, heart, insight and biblical faithfulness is brought to us by someone who clearly loves God and whose theology reads and beats as worship. Mike deconstructs falsehood, fears and fallacies in the nurture of gospel confidence for us. He wrestles with long-held myths about the Trinity, its interface with the moving compassion of the gospel, and resulting deep joy for the believer. In reading this you will find your view of God enlarged and beautified.
Mike's biblical rootedness throughout doesn't come across as defensive, but stirs the reader to a renewed Bible commitment . It's a dynamic and punchy title: singularly the best accessible read on the Trinity in the marketplace today! Faithful and fresh!
on 7 June 2012
I am still reading this book, and have enjoyed every page. Mike Reeves' book is drawn from the many talks he has given over the last few years (available on MP3 at theologynetwork.org) on the Trinity. My wife and I have listened and benefited from his talks, and so are very glad to be able to read him too. His style ensures that listening or reading you feel like he is an amiable guide through the tangled garden of theology. As with the best theology, this book encourages the reader to grow to love Jesus more.
on 11 April 2013
Many see the Trinity as too complicated, unnecessary, unbiblical, or all of the above.
Michael Reeves however, is not content for us to just believe in the Trinity because we're supposed to, he wants us to be happy about it - he actually wants us to rejoice in the Trinity! The Good God is Reeves' impassioned case. (This book is also published as Delighting in the Trinity in the USA by IVP. The contents are virtually the same, except for editorial features.)
His own thesis is as follows: "This book, then, will simply be about growing in our enjoyment of God and seeing how God's triune being makes all his ways beautiful".
Reeves begins by attacking head-on complacency about the Trinity by arguing that the identity of our God as Trinity is what makes "Christianity absolutely distinct". Throughout the rest of the book he shows how God as Trinity is central to everything in our faith. To achieve his goal, Reeves uses Scripture, theologians and early church fathers, and a good dose of disarming humour.
First, he asks what God was doing before He created. Reeves insightfully states that if God identity is primarily Creator or Ruler, then He would have lacked something until He created or had creation to rule over. Instead, what makes our God unique is that He is primarily a Father eternally loving His Son through the Spirit. Our God is by nature relational, loving and self-giving.
In the following chapters, Reeves shows how absolute centrality of God as Trinity plays out in creation, salvation and the Christian life. In creation, the Father's love overflows. In salvation, we see the Son's giving nature on the cross. And in the Christian life, we experience the Spirit's beautifying presence. And in all three aspects, each member of the Trinity is present and united.
In his conclusion, Reeves goes so far to suggest that the growth of atheism may be proportionate to the decline of interest and focus in the Trinity. Agreeing with anti-theists about the evil of a Big-Brother god, Reeves rejoices that the true Trinitarian God is different! As Trinity, He is distinctly self-giving and others-focused. Ultimately, a correct understanding of God changes everything.
This book is funny.
I don't mean that it's strange, what I mean is that at times it's borderline hilarious. Before picking up this book I didn't remember anyone mentioning this, but Reeves' distinctly British humour is one of the most striking features of this book. Now for some, humour in a theology book may be confusing when one is not expecting a punchline or a joke about John Owen's wig, or it may even be seen as borderline irreverent, though this was not my experience at all. Reeves is a great teacher - able to make his subject enjoyable through illustrations, unbridled enthusiasm for the subject (get the reference?), and also humour.
Second to being such an enjoyable book to read, what struck me the most was Reeves' clarity while tackling such a complicated subject as the nature of our God. This is all the more notable since Reeves isn't content to simply skirt the surface, but gets his hands dirty and even engages with sometimes-abstruse quotations from such as Barth and Edwards. Through engaging writing, Reeves is able to help any reader understand these theologians and hopefully join in with his admiration for them.
Another distinct aspect of this book is its flowing nature, probably due to its original inception as a series of lectures. Reeves very smoothly moves from one issue to the next without much hindrance. For some who like arguments and proofs to be laid out logically and then neatly summarised, this book could be frustrating. If this were a book trying to biblically prove the Trinity, it would be an issue, but following Reeves' thesis, the fluidness only adds to the readability and enjoyableness.
Every few pages there are `sidebars' of sorts, addressing a related issue like the implications of the Trinity on mathematics or music, or giving a brief introduction to a theologian and their thoughts. This keeps Reeves from losing focus in the main text, but also gives the reader bite-sized breaks, and a little taste of the wide-ranging impact of the Trinity that other books neglect. And he does all this in fewer than 150 pages!
You may have noticed little in the way of criticism, that's because it's hard to find negative things to say. For a book that aims to show the importance of the Trinity and have the reader caught up in enjoying our God, The Good God succeeds on every level.
For those looking for a Biblically robust defence of the Trinity, this is not the book for you. However, for those who want to know why Christians should care about the Trinity (whether you are a believer or unbeliever), this is ideal. In fact, this is a wonderful introduction to the Christian faith.
It's for that reason that I've assigned this book to my Introduction to Theology students at CCBCY. In one short, enjoyable book, we have reasons to delight in the Trinity, a summary of the Christian faith seen through the lens of the Trinity, introductions to and quotations from prominent Christian theologians and early fathers, and ultimately, a passionate plea for a deeper devotional life! They have loved the book.
While this serves as a great introduction, if you are a more mature Christian, don't think that this book is not for you. In fact, I heartily recommend this book to any Christian at any stage of their life. I've been a Christian my whole life, and still was completely caught up in this book, being left with a new passion to better know our unique and Triune God.
[Many thanks to Sarah Gallagher and Authentic Media for providing a review copy of this book!]
on 11 June 2013
Michael Reeves - is a brilliant communicator. Presenting one of the most difficult concepts in Christendom and unpacking the trinity into a very manageable volume.
Clear and concisely he argues for the tree persons of the trinity each as God and the three in one. Wonderfully written, engaging narrative.
Highly recommended - I wish all Christian theology books were this good!
on 16 May 2013
I loved this book. Fairly short, not a long read at all...but full of great truths about the trinity. The book has helped me see who God is more accurately, and changed the way I relate to Him. The blurb on the back says that it feels like you are eating candy floss (it is such a nice, comforting read!) yet you are actually getting a complete, nutritious meal, and I totally concur! Brilliant!
on 26 January 2013
Want a simple yet profound introduction to the Trinity? A book written by an enthusiastic author who makes you want to find out more about the Trinity? This is it - easy to read, easy to understand yet does not reduce the profound nature of the Trinity. Respectful written.
on 21 November 2014
Michael Reeves’ contention is that the contemporary church has, at best, a faltering understanding of the doctrine of the Trinity, and that our experience of the Christian faith is the worse for it. It is tempting, when settling down to read ‘The Good God’, to suppose that the doctrine of the Trinity is simply the author’s hobby-horse of choice; this would hardly be the first instance of a Christian writer zeroing in on a so-called secondary issue and elevating it to primary importance. But, with humour, lucidity, and no shortage of passion, Reeves successfully demonstrates that an understanding of the Trinity is no mere optional extra; indeed, to fail to grasp its implications is to lose sight of what is utterly unique about our faith, what compels us to cry, ‘Who among the Gods is like you, O LORD?’
Having read the Bible for most of my life, I had not previously considered my doctrine of the Trinity lacking. Say the words ‘Father’, ‘Son’ and ‘Spirit’, and I could quickly list their respective roles. But, like most who will pick up Reeves’ tremendous book, this knowledge did not exactly stir my affections. Moreover, my grasp of their interactions within the Trinity was tenuous at best. Reeves skilfully helps the reader to come to appreciate how truly great it is to have, in the Trinity, a Father whose love for the Son overflows into his creation, a Son whose enjoyment of the Father behoves him to reveal him to his creation, and a Holy Spirit who so unites us to the Son that we, his children, can cry ‘Abba’.
In particular, I had hardly expected an improved understanding of the Trinity to enhance my faltering efforts in evangelism, but Reeves’ book again proved valuable in this regard. Those engaged in reaching non-Christian theists will be greatly helped by his searing exposure of the inherent difficulties at the heart of single-entity gods like Allah. And those confronting the present-day anti-theist contention of God-as-narcissistic-tyrant will find in the doctrine of the Trinity a God who is fundamentally loving. Probably, though, the greatest beneficiary of Reeves’ apologia will be the Christian himself, who will feel a renewed excitement at the thought of such a great God, and all the more incentive to adjure his fellow men to ‘ascribe greatness to our God!’.
on 30 July 2012
I must admit to being a little indifferent to reading about the Trinity. Many standard systematic theologies make it sound like the dullest and most difficult Christian teaching. The reader of such tomes is often left wondering what the practical benefit of the Trinity is. Also, I may be like many people and like my doctrine to be easily grasped by the mind and simply dismiss something that is too difficult (at least for me.)
The Good God is not like some of the previous books and sections in books that I have read on the subject of the Trinity. Reeves frequently has a great turn of phrase that makes the book an entertaining read - "Far, far from theological clutter, God's being Father, Son and Spirit is just what makes the Christian life beautiful." (p. 82)
The point of the book, according to the author, is to help the reader see the real difference the Trinity makes:
"For all that we may give an orthodox nod of the head to belief in the Trinity, it simply seems too arcane to make any practical difference to our lives." (p. ix)
And what is the practical difference? Reeves summarizes:
"...but if God were just one person, then love of the other would not be central to his being. There would have been nobody in eternity for him to love. Thus the only God inherently inclined to show mercy is the Father who has eternally loved his Son by the Spirit. Only with this God do such winning qualities as love and mercy rank highly." (p. 91)
The book is structured very simply in to four chapters dealing with the Trinity as presented in the Bible and church history and a fifth chapter acting as a capstone focusing on the glory of the Trinity. These chapters are:
What was God Doing before Creation?
"Before creation, before all things, we saw, the Father was loving and begetting his Son. For eternity, that was what the Father was doing. He did not become Father at some point; rather, his very identity is to be the one who begets the Son. That is who he is. Thus it is not as if the Father and the Son bumped into each other at some point and found to their surprise how remarkably well they got on." (p. 15)
Creation: the Father's Love Overflows
"Single-person gods, having spent eternity alone, are inevitably self-centred beings, and so it becomes hard to see why they would ever cause anything else to exist ... [c]reating just looks like a deeply unnatural thing for such a god to do. And if such gods do create, they usually seem to do so out of an essential neediness or desire to use what they created merely for their own self-gratification. Everything changes when it comes to the Father, Son and Spirit. Here is a God who is not essentially lonely, but who has been loving for all eternity as the Father has loved the Son in the Spirit. Loving others is not a strange or novel thing for this God at all; it is at the root of who he is." (p. 23)
Salvation: the Son Shares what is His
"It means that this God makes no third party suffer to achieve atonement. The one who dies is the lamb of God, the Son. And it means that nobody but God contributes to the work of salvation: the Father, Son and Spirit accomplish it all. Now if God were not triune, if there was no Son, no lamb of God to die in our place, then we would have to atone for our sin ourselves. We would have to provide, for God could not. But - hallelujah! - God has a Son, and in his infinite kindness he dies, paying the wages of sin, for us. It is because God is triune that the cross is such good news." (p. 55)
The Christian Life: the Spirit Beautifies
"But the Spirit's first work is to set our desires in order, to open our eyes and give us the Father's own relish for the Son, and the Son's own enjoyment of the Father." (p. 80)
'Who among the god is like you, O LORD?'
"Love for the Lord, love for neighbour - that is the heart of holiness and how the triune God's people get to be like him." (p. 95)
This book has given me a hunger to study more about the Trinity, in the Bible and in church history, but even more importantly, it has given me a great hunger for the triune God I claim to worship. I recommend it to all Christians as well worth a slow, contemplative read. It would be great for book clubs to read and discuss. Maybe it could result in healthier Christians who just want to overflow with love.
on 25 February 2013
Reeves has a light humorous touch that makes this profound book on the trinity , a joy to read
For some I think the plethora of pictures may seem a bit like a children's book, but looking through this I thought it made a key subject easily accessible for most people , and emphasises the value of relationship in all God is