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God the Holy Trinity: Reflections on Christian Faith and Practice (Beeson Divinity Studies) [Paperback]

By George Timothy (Contributor)
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Item Specifications...

Pages   176
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.49" Width: 5.55" Height: 0.46"
Weight:   0.48 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Oct 1, 2006
Publisher   Baker Publishing Group
ISBN  0801027659  
EAN  9780801027659  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
Leading scholars from diverse theological traditions reflect on various theological and practical aspects of the core Christian doctrine of the Trinity.

Publishers Description
"God the Holy Trinity "brings together leading scholars from diverse theological perspectives to reflect on various theological and practical aspects of the core Christian doctrine of the Trinity. Throughout, the contributors highlight the trinitarian shape of spiritual formation. The esteemed lineup of contributors includes Alister E. McGrath; Gerald L. Bray; James Earl Massey; Avery Cardinal Dulles, S.J.; Frederica Mathewes-Green; J. I. Packer; Timothy George; Ellen T. Charry; and Cornelius Plantinga Jr. This book will appeal to students, church leaders, and interested laity. It is the second book in the Beeson Divinity Studies series.

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More About George Timothy

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Timothy George is Dean at Beeson Divinity School, Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama. He is also editor, together with his wife Denise, of the Library of Baptist Classics series. He previously was an associate professor of church history and historical theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky.

Timothy George currently resides in Birmingham, in the state of Alabama.

Timothy George has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Beeson Divinity Studies
  2. Library of Baptist Classics (Numbered)
  3. New American Commentary New Testament
  4. Reclaiming the Christian Intellectual Tradition

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Product Categories
1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Theology > General   [4167  similar products]
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > General   [8607  similar products]

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Passionate and articulate investigation into the mystery of the Trinity  Apr 1, 2010
When I was a student at Harvard Divinity School during the 1970s, one of my teachers published a book entitled God the Problem," writes Timothy George, contributor and editor of God the Holy Trinity, Reflections on Christian Faith and Practice.

"While reveling in obscurity and complexity may be the delight of some theologians, if there has ever been a genuine `problem' in Christian doctrine, then surely it is how the eternal God can be both One and yet Three at the same time" (p. 9).

Yet, this is exactly what all orthodox Christians confess: that God is both One and Three, who has made Himself known as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. While this doctrine is confusing and wrapped in mystery, it is essential to the Christian faith.

God the Holy Trinity is a collection of essays originally presented at Beeson Divinity School's symposium, "God the Holy Trinity: A Conference on Faith and Christian Life," with speakers representing Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Protestant (Anglican, Baptist, Presbyterian and Holiness) theological traditions. The purpose of the book, as was the case in the conference, is not to ignore or deny the (sometimes severe) doctrinal differences between each of these traditions, but to present the best in trinitarian thought from each (in fact, only two of the contributors are not from Protestant traditions, as far as I can tell).

Every contribution contained valuable and thought-provoking insights, and it was actually quite refreshing to see such a diverse group firmly committed to the doctrine of the Trinity and it's role in faith and practice. The Trinity infuses all of life and thought for the Christian--music, experience, unity, salvation, the pursuit of godliness, evangelism. There's not a single thing that isn't affected by the doctrine of the Trinity, and all the contributors serve their audience well by reminding us of this truth.

In expressing the importance of the doctrine of the Trinity, the contributors don't shy away from the reality that God's nature as One God in Three Persons is mysterious. Alister McGrath, in his opening chapter, offers a "dose of theological cold water," reminding us that while the Trinity identifies and names God, forcing us to be "explicit about God in discussion," we must be wary of subjecting the doctrine to "considerable theological speculation, occasionally leading people to see the Trinity as little more than a mathematical puzzle or logical riddle" (p. 35).

There comes a point where our best explanations will fall short of the mystery, and this is something we must embrace, particularly when talking about the Trinity.

I greatly appreciated Gerald L. Bray's chapter, focusing on the Christian experience of the Trinity. Bray writes to show that "the Christian doctrine of the Trinity did not emerge from some kind of philosophical speculation, but from the realities of the Christian spiritual experience of him" (p. 55).

What I like best about Bray's chapter is that he asks good questions, even as he answers them. "Why is it so hard for Christians to let go of the Trinity when there seem to be so many things they may gain by doing so," he writes (p. 43). And he's right. Muslims and Jews both reject the Trinity as Tritheism. It is a stumbling block to them (a point Timothy George addresses in his contribution). It gets in the way of interfaith dialogue. Wouldn't it be easier to just throw it away?

No, argues Bray. If we did, we'd actually lose the Christian faith altogether. Without the doctrine of the Trinity, penal substitutionary atonement--the basis of salvation through faith in Christ--is reduced to an act of horrific injustice, as some within evangelical circles today would claim (referring to it as "Divine child abuse"). Bray counters this well, arguing that, "such people have failed to grasp the voluntary nature of the Son's substitution."

"God the Father never decided to punish his Son on our behalf, and given their fundamental equality within the Godhead, he probably could not have done so even if he had wanted to. It was only when the Son humbled himself and became a servant, to accomplish the Father's will, that the Son became a man, since only in the mode of humanity could he pay the price of our redemption. If there is any "injustice" in this, it is not in the Son's voluntary act on our behalf, but in the fact that we have been redeemed; we have received something from God that we have done nothing to deserve, and that all our own thoughts and desires make us unworthy to obtain." (p. 51)

"At the heart of the atonement lies the relationship between the Son and the Father in the Godhead, without which is saving act could not have occurred," writes Bray. And, according to Bray, this truth is at the heart of our experience of God.

Puritan theologian John Owen and J.I. Packer concur.

Introducing the views of Owen, who Packer calls one of his most honored travelling companions, he writes, "To [Owen, the Trinity] is, quite simply, the foundation of Christianity, which collapses without it. The gospel of salvation through a divine-human mediator and a divine Spirit cannot be true if trinitarianism is false, nor can there then be such a thing as communion with the three persons of the Godhead distinctly." (p. 100)

The truth of the Trinity, according to Packer and Owen, is "basic, crucial and totally nonnegotiable" (p. 101). The gravity of this statement cannot be overstated: To compromise on the doctrine of the Trinity is to lose the Christian faith. Owen's work demonstrates the communion of the Trinity based in the distinction of their roles within divine saving activity. The Father is salvation's loving originator, the Son is its loving achiever and the Spirit is its loving imparter. Each is essential, yet each is distinct.

Representing some of the finest trinitarian thinking of the last seventy five years, God the Holy Trinity presents readers with passionate and articulate essays on the importance of the doctrine of the Trinity to faith and practice. The Trinity lies at the heart of every Christian doctrine and every aspect of the Christian life. Because of its mystery, the doctrine of the Trinity leads us to humility.

I am humbled by the vision of God that is presented in this book. I hope you will be as well.
Has its moments  Feb 13, 2010
The publication of this book is a welcome addition to what is becoming a renewed focus in Western Christianity; namely, focus upon theology proper, God in God's self. With all of the anti-this & that and solas of the Reformation, God the Father, and thus a proper understanding of both His Son and Spirit, had been distorted and neglected. For a variety of reasons, not the least of which is renewed contact with the Eastern Orthodox liturgical/theological tradition, Western theology, both Roman Catholic and Protestant, is recovering from its amnesia. While this slim volume is not one that I would put on a top ten list of books to read when thinking about Trinitarian theology, it does have its merits.

Alister McGrath's essay on Evangelicals and Trinitarian theology isn't too engaging (is he ever?), but does rightly call us to have a mental humility before the mystery of God. Without limiting God to transcendence, he rightfully remarks that we must stick to our data, and not get so absorbed in our thoughts about God that we forget that loving God covers over a multitude of "unknowings", and that this is just fine. This is akin to the Orthodox approach to apophatic, or negative, theology. God is fundamentally a mystery in which we participate, not understand. This is a good way to set the tone for reading the other essays.

Massey's essay on African-American spirituals notes the role of the Holy Spirit. While useful, I found it to be rather narrow for a larger reading; likewise can be said for Packer's reflections on the Puritan John Owen. In at least two other conferences I have heard him present on Owen and at this point it just doesn't do it for me. Too narrow for general readership.

Essays that I found more general and insightful would include Matthew-Green's reflections on the Eastern Orthodox approach/experience of God as Father, Son and Spirit in Her art & architecture. She reminds us that it is in the context of worship that we come closet to "knowing" God in a communion of love, as the Church is the Body of Christ. That can never be said enough, and one might find in this approach a useful metric to just how Christian much of what passes for worship actually is (or isn't). Dulles' essay echoes the liturgical aspect of theology, with his reflections upon the nature of baptism.

Charry's critique of Barth, Jenson and LaCugna through her Augustinian lens. This means that she wants to temper the "social" aspect of the Trinity with Augustine's notion of divine simplicity. I am not exactly sold on this at all, but it will resonate with classical Western theology. It can be a tricky conception, but it does serve to guard against tritheism.

Most useful for myself has been George's critique of Muslim critiques of Christian trinitarianism, showing that Mohammed fundamentally misunderstood Christian theology on this point by believing that Mary was the third member of the Trinity and that she had sexual intercourse with God to spawn Jesus. While Mohammed may have been exposed to a heretical Marian cult, and developed his ideas of Christianity form that, it dose show that the Quran is off-base in its critique of the Faith. Robert Louis Wilken's Remembering the Christian Pasthas an excellent chapter on this topic as well.

There are a few other essays that are included that yo can see in the index above.

I would steer readers who are interested in this topic to a few other books before buying this one: Being as Communion: Studies in Personhood and the Church (Contemporary Greek Theologians Series, No 4), Energies of the Spirit: Trinitarian Models in Eastern Orthodox and Western Theology (American Academy of Religion Academy Series), The Tripersonal God: Understanding and Interpreting the Trinity, Trinity and Incarnation: The Faith of the Early Church (Theology), The God of the Gospel of John, The Cruelty of Heresy: An Affirmation of Christian Orthodoxy, The Mystery of the Trinity: Trinitarian Experience and Vision in the Biblical and Patristic Tradition and, needed in any approach to theology, Vladimir Lossky's The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church.

Please see my other reviews for books that relate to theology and ecumneism.

Write your own review about God the Holy Trinity: Reflections on Christian Faith and Practice (Beeson Divinity Studies)

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