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Connected Paperback – 15 Jun 2012
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This is heart-warming, awe-inspiring teaching which will fill the mind and feed the soul. Deep truths are expounded with a light touch and down to earth applications. Here is a book that will not only help readers to understand more deeply the mystery of God the Holy Trinity but also moves us to worship and honour him in daily life. --Vaughan Roberts, Rector of St Ebbe's, Oxford and Director of the Proclamation Trust
Sam Allberry has returned with another characteristically fresh and readable introduction. With wry humour and solid biblical moorings, we are drawn back to marvel at the wonders of God, Father Son and Holy Spirit. He writes simply without being too simplistic and thus has produced a great book to put into the hands of young believers hungry to grow in their understanding and faith --Mark Meynell, Senior Associate Minister, All Souls, Langham Place, London
Sam Allberry rightly points out how neglected the doctrine of the Trinity is, showing its importance clearly and warmly. I hope many will read this and be affected --Michael Reeves, Head of Theology, UCCF
About the Author
Sam Allberry is Associate Minister of St Mary's Church, Maidenhead, UK and author of 'Lifted: Experiencing the Resurrection Life' (IVP). He enjoys American history, bad puns and perfecting his recipe for Thai green curry.
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Too often writers delight in making things more complex than they need to be, but others write in a manner which dumbs everything down and is patronizing.
Connected explains, instructs, and inspires. I commend it as a fantastic resource for those wanting to understand why the doctrine of the Trinity is so important to us today.
The Trinity can be a mysterious theological concept but Sam brings it alive with refreshing illustrations,humour and provides easy reading of a profound subject. I wish it had been written 30years ago and that I had read it then!
"The doctrine of the Trinity was carefully filed in the drawer of 'Things That All Good Christians Believe' and then never really seen again. I had no immediate need to look further into the Trinity, and a number of suspicious were holding me back:
- It doesn't make sense
- It's not meant to make sense
- It's too technical
- It's embarrassing
- It's irrelevant" (pp. 13-14)
Helpfully and appropriately Allberry says "Such thinking comes to an abrupt and happy halt the moment we begin to look more closely at what the Bible shows us about the Trinity" (p. 15). He goes on to say that:
"Understanding the Trinity helps us make sense of so much of what we hold dear: friendship, marriage, church, love, service, identity. Things that are precious to us, but which we are not always able to properly account for, find new significance when examined in the light of the Trinity. Things we cherish about God - his love and integrity, the coherence of his Word, the nearness of his presence, and, above all, his matchless love poured out for us through the death of Christ - all these can only make real sense when we discover that God is, in fact, Trinity" (pp. 15-16).
Allberry then, as he claimed, turns to the Bible, not so much to prove the doctrine of the Trinity in forms of dogmatics, but unfold the doctrine by looking at key passages. And like a wise pastor he starts to explore the Trinity by turning to the words of Jesus. In Mark 12:28 a teacher of the law asks Jesus "Of all the commandments, which is the most important?" And in Mark 12:29 Jesus answers "Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one." We need to understand and know who God is before we can do what he commands. Allberry then spends chapters 1 and 2 exploring the significance of Jesus' reply to the teacher of the law. He says "It means more than being digitally singular. It speaks of there being a unity to God, that he is undivided ... [a]nd that means we can't have one person of the Trinity without the others" (p. 34).
Allberry also has a subtle and simple approach to teaching important truths. For example, when discussing how God's oneness directs our thinking about the death of Jesus, he refers to Jesus' baptism (Mark 1:9-11) and says:
"This is a wonderful scene of the Trinity in action. Jesus is going forward for baptism, the Spirit is descending and the Father is speaking. (If nothing else, this puts the boot into the idea that the Father, Son and Spirit are all just different roles or modes that God switches between)" (p. 39).
Chapters 3 and 4 then discuss God as Trinity. Again, Allberry takes the reader to the words of Jesus in Matthew 28:19 "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." Following Jesus means coming in to the reality of the Trinity. He quickly surveys the plurality of God in the Old Testament and then the Trinity in the New Testament. This is all good stuff and presented simply enough for even the most reluctant reader. Allberry says "The way in which God is one is different from the way in which he is three ... He is one in name and nature and he is three in person" (p. 60). Allberry also relies on John 5:19-23 to show Jesus' relationship with his Father. Importantly, he says that Father, Son and Spirit are not temporary roles, but eternal identities.
Part 2 of the book focuses more specifically on what the Trinity means for us. This is were I think the author is at his best. In Chapter 5, subtitled 'The Trinity and Humanity', Allberry says "... self-discovery starts here: God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. All that we were made to be comes from knowing that. Our need for relationships, the importance of serving others, what it means to be sexual beings - all come into true light when seen in relation to our trinitarian Good" (p. 96).
The other chapters address:
6 - The Trinity and Gender. Arguing from the equality, difference and headship in the Trinity to the equality, difference and headship in marriage.
7 - The Trinity and Church. "Behind the unity-in-diversity of the Church is its heavenly analogue, the unity-in-diversity of the Trinity, and the operational diversity of the church is a reflection of the Trinity" (p. 122). Allberry zooms in on 1 Corinthians 12 which highlights the unity-in-diversity of our gifting. Positively he says "... the church is to be marked by the unity of God the Trinity. Our life together is to reflect that same love, mutual delight and other-person-centredness that characterises the relationships of the Father, Son and Spirit. And as the world looks on, it will see ... Christians showing unworldly care and concern for one another. Hearts, wallets and homes cheerfully opened to help those in need. Those from backgrounds you wouldn't normally see together enjoying their unity in Christ. Believers very different from one another but lit by a love of meeting together, of praising their Saviour and taking his word to heart" (p. 134). Very challenging my Anglican friend.
8 - The Trinity and Prayer. Allberry explains that prayer is trinitarian because it is offered by the Spirit, through the Son, to the Father. This is an excellent chapter and I could provide plenty of quotes that really broadened my understanding of the basics of prayer. Prayer is something I often struggle with but this chapter was a real encouragement to keep praying.
9 - A fine exposition of Ephesians 1:3-14 which is a mammoth trinitarian sentence of praise from the lips of the apostle Paul.
Sam Allberry has written a very practical book on the significance of the Trinity. It is easy to read and has helpful illustrations. In fact, it reads so easy that it was not until my second pass through that the profundity of some of his points really jumped out at me. There was a little repetition in the book but that is no bad thing given the topic. Also, section 1 - which addresses the doctrine of the Trinity - could have been a little more meaty and contain an extra chapter presenting the positive scriptural case for the Trinity. In summary, I recommend this book to all Christians and it will likely help us think again about the God who made us, revealed himself to us and adopts us as his children.
* This book was supplied for review by IVP Books.
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Alberry starts by giving an overview of the Trinity in the first half of the...Read more