February 2016


Reordering the Trinity by Durst“In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, amen.” This is the way Christians, of various confessional backgrounds, have understood and referred to the three persons of the trinity for hundreds of years. In fact, it has been the overwhelmingly majority way in which Christians think of the relationship of the persons of the godhead. And it is for good reason that they think of them this way because it is historically consistent with the witness of Scripture and the church.

But is it the only way in which the Bible expresses the relationship of the three persons of the trinity? Is it the only triadic order that is presented? Is it the only way in which the three persons of the trinity can be ordered? We typically order the persons of the trinity as Father, Son, and Spirit because of the hierarchical nature we see expressed in the godhead, but is that it? It is being faithful to Scripture when we stop there? Are we overlooking other orderings of the persons of the trinity because we rely so heavily on just one?

In his new book, Reordering the Trinity: Six Movements of God in the New Testament (Kregel, 2015), Rodrick K. Durst, professor of historical theology a Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, convincingly argues that the New Testament authors had a much more diverse understanding of the relationship of the persons of the trinity that much of the Church has missed since the closing of the canon. While this diversity of understanding and expression was more predominate in the first few centuries of the church, it has been less so since with little press.

As already mentioned, while most Christians think of the order of the trinity as Father, Son, and Spirit (F-S-Sp), there are in fact five other orderings in the NT:

  1. Father-Son-Spirit (F-S-Sp) – Missional Order
  2. Father-Spirit-Son (F-Sp-S) – Regenerative Order
  3. Son-Father-Spirit (S-F-Sp) – Christological Order
  4. Son-Spirit-Father (S-Sp-F) – Sanctifying Order
  5. Spirit-Father-Son (Sp-F-S) – Spiritual Formation Order
  6. Spirit-Son-Father (Sp-S-F) – Ecclesial Order

The crux of the book is simple: these various orderings are used by the NT authors intentionally so as to express the various ways in which the functions/roles/responsibilities of the persons of the trinity relate and interact with each other. So, while it is accurate to refer to the trinity in the order of F-S-Sp, it is not the only way in which it would be considered biblically accurate to do so. In fact, says Durst

Research indicates that there are seventy-five Trinitarian references in the New Testament. Just eighteen instances (twenty-four percent) do follow the expected order of Father, Son, and Spirit. The remaining fifty-seven instances (seventy-six percent) exist in [the] five other diverse orders. (73)

Think about that. The standard order of F-S-Sp only accounts for 24% of the six orderings. To put this into perspective, the second runner up in terms of frequency is S-Sp-F comprising 20% of the occurrences. The last being the Sp-S-F ordering which takes up 10% of the total Trinitarian references. As Durst would argue, if we want to be faithful to Scripture in our understanding and expression of the trinity then the standard F-S-Sp ordering ought not be the only way in which we talk about the trinity. It may be the majority way but it is by far the only way.

Though not an historically new concept, or one that is unnatural to the biblical text, Durst’s proposal will seem new to many. Durst himself has taken inspiration from others before him but much of his work here is his own. Because of the newness for many readers Durst takes pains in the first several chapters to lay a foundation for what will follow. He admits early on that if one does not accept his proposal in the first section then the rest of the book will probably fall on deaf ears. This might be so for some. But, if we are willing to let the text teach us in new ways, I think the most convincing portion of the book is the section in which Durst lays out the six triadic orderings.

This is truly a book that has taken a theological/biblical concept and advanced the discussion. This is no small feat. Reordering the Trinity is not a book about imposing artificial concepts onto the trinity. Durst is not trying to reorder the Bible. Rather, what you will find at the end of the book is that your own thinking about the trinity has been reordered into a more biblically faithful understanding.

The implications for this book will only be understood more fully as one continues to ponder and study the text of Scripture regarding the trinity. You will be amazed at what you have missed and you will be amazed that the NT writers were much more Trinitarian than we give them credit for. The trinity was more real and natural in their thinking than we think and we need to make their understanding a more real and natural part of our thinking as well.

I received this book for free from Kregel for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Advertisements

The good folks at Bethany House Publishers have recently sent me a number of new books to check out. While I cannot fully review all of them I wanted to provide a brief overview to help you decide whether or not these are books you should get or might be interested in.

Becoming a Disciple Making Church by Neil T. AndersonPastor, teacher, writer, and lifetime student Neil T. Anderson has written a new book connecting his previous books work with discipleship in the church. Anderson has written extensively on topics like addictions, depression, spiritual warfare, and other counseling issues. In this new book, Becoming a Disciple Making Church: A Proven Method for Growing Spiritually Mature Christians, Anderson condenses much of his other books and applies them to discipleship. If you love Anderson’s previous books then you will love this one. If you, like me, have been more reserved in using his books this book might not be for you. However, as someone who has not been a fan of some of Anderson’s underlying principles for spiritual growth and being free from sin, I did find a number of things in the book helpful as they relate to discipleship.

 

 

 

Do you notice that when you know better the needs of your churches missionaries that you feel more empowered to pray for them? But, when you An Insider's Guide to Praying for the World by Brian Stillertry to pray for general needs in other countries you can feel lost in prayer. The same prayer an apply to so many places that it can feel canned. If you want to pray better and more specifically for the needs in other countries then An Insider’s Guide to Praying for the World by Brian C. Stiller is for you. Stiller is the Global Ambassador of the World Evangelical Alliance. Having traveled extensively all over the world for over 30 years, Stiller has a unique pulse on the missionary needs of so many countries. This book is a guide to praying better for countries like Sri Lanka, Rwanda, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Columbia, Korea, and Nepal. Each chapter is short and gives helpful prayer information specific to each country. This is a must have for all Christians who want to regularly pray for missions around the world.

 

 

 

Delighting in God by TozerA. W. Tozer’s book, The Knowledge of the Holy, is a Christian classic. It has served to enrich and deepen Christians lives as they grow closer to God through a better understanding of the attributes of God. While it was the last book Tozer wrote, it was not the last book he intended to write. He wanted to write a follow-up book dealing with the attributes of God in a more devotional fashion. He did not get to do that. However, James L. Snyder, authority on the life of Tozer, has compiled a number of Tozer’s writings and sermons on this very topic and put them into book form under the title Delighting in God. The essential message Snyder tries to get across through Tozer’s writings in this book is that a person’s passion for God will determine their lifestyle. This book is classic Tozer and as such you will put it down challenged whether or not you agree with everything he says.

 

 

One of the greatest areas of growth in the publishing industry is that of apologetics. There are so many good books on every subject and many of themGod You Thoight You Knew by McFarland are written at a number of levels of reading, from beginner to more advanced. Author, speaker, and apologist Alex McFarland has recently written The God You Thought You Knew: Exposing the 10 Biggest Myths About Christianity. In this book McFarland seeks to correct ten myths that are perpetuated by non-Christians about the Christian faith. This is a very readable book in which McFarland weaves the personal struggles he had with the Christian faith throughout the book. While some readers will not agree with all of the responses McFarland gives in response to the myths, there is still a lot to benefit from in this book.

 

 

 

I received these books for free from Bethany House for these reviews. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”