Friday, February 16, 2007

God the Holy Trinity: Book Note

I recently picked up a copy of God the Holy Trinity: Reflections on Christian Faith and Practice (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2006), edited by Timothy George. The book is based upon a series of lectures given at Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham, AL (USA) and represents a wide spectrum of trinitarian traditions. George sounds the ecumenical note when he writes,

While there are diverse voices and varying emphases in these essays, they represent an underlying commitment to the trinitarian faith of the apostolic tradition, grounded in Holy Scripture and confessed by the early church. None of the contributors to this volume would for a moment minimize the serious theological and ecclesial differences that still, sadly prevent us as believing Christians from coming together to the banquet of the Lord's Table. But we do recognize one another as brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ, and we stand together in our commitment to this historic trinitarian faith of the church (12-13).

Contributors to the volume are Alister McGrath (Oxford University), Gerald Bray (Beeson Divinity School), James Earl Massey (Anderson University School of Theology), Avery Cardinal Dulles (Fordham University), Frederica Mathewes-Green (NPR commentator), J. I. Packer (Regent College), Ellen T. Charry (Princeton Theological Seminary, Cornelius Plantinga (Calvin Theological Seminary) and Timothy George (Beeson).

I bought the book for its chapter by Packer on "A Puritan Perspective: Trinitarian Godliness According to John Owen." As usual, Packer's pithy prose pack a powerful punch! After very helpful sections on Owen's literary style and theological method, he gives a broad sweeping overview of Owen's trinitarian theology, focusing upon Of Communion with the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost (1658). His goal is to provide in a nutshell "John Owen's fully and even radically trinitarian account of the inside story of Christian existence" (107). Packer writes as though he knows Owen on a firsthand basis. He begins, "I want you to meet one of my most honored traveling companions over the past fifth-five years, the English Puritan John Owen" (91). His essay is sprinkled with subtle and even humorous observations about Owen. For example, he states,

It is integral to Owen's mind-set to insist that experiencing the power of truth is essential. Though he was not chatty about his spiritual pilgrimage in the way that Augustine and Luther and Baxter and Bunyan were, we must not therefrom infer that he stood aloof from the charactheristic Puritan conviction and commitment (94).

Packer's essay is full of practical wisdom and insight. While the ecumenical flare of the book (especially in light of things like ECT) might cause some pause, I would encourage anyone to pick it up for Packer's chapter alone.


H.C. Ross said...

Sounds really good, John. Thanks for this!

Edwin Tay said...

John, my book budget is really low. Would be extremely grateful if I could borrow it sometime.


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