To be Christian is to be Trinitarian. The doctrine impacts and directs all aspects of the Christian life, from our justification to our sanctification, worship, and even our spiritual disciplines.
But if the doctrine of the Trinity is so critical to our faith, then why do we think about it so little? I believe a major reason is that this doctrine is quite complex. And unfortunately for many Christians, these complexities have overcome its significance in our lives, much to the detriment of our churches and our own spiritual growth.
To be sure, to think about the Trinity is to think hard. But though the work is challenging, I would argue that the payoff is worth it. So, to help reap the rewards of this doctrine, I have provided a list of my top 5 (more or less) recent books that will help the church fall in love with the mysterious beauty of our one God in three persons.
Bruce Ware | Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
Bruce Ware’s goal is to bring the wonder of the Trinity before the eyes of the church. He does this by addressing the doctrine’s importance, its historical background, the beauty of each person of the Trinity, and then a concluding statement on the relational community of the one God. Ware carefully and precisely guides his readers through the Bible, theology, and history and then closes each major section with a point of application, demonstrating how these truths intersect with our lives in very real and personal ways. The opening chapter puts forth 10 reasons why we should reflect on the wonders of the Trinity—a short list worthy of our reflection and, I have found, the price of the book.
Michael Reeves | Delighting in the Trinity
This is great introduction to the Christian doctrine of the Trinity. One of his main drives in the book is to show that “God is love because God is Trinity” (9). As you can imagine, the book takes off from here, weaving the depth of this doctrine together with the life of God’s people. Reeves intersperses “attention getters” throughout the book to hold his audience in place as he shines a practical light on the intricacies of the Trinity. And he does so not just to push our arrogant intellectual “noses up in the air” but that we might fall to your knees and worship our great God who is three in one.
Fred Sanders | The Deep Things of God
Fred Sanders wants to show you that the Trinity changes everything, especially your understanding of the gospel. To do this, Sanders begins where many do not: He helps us see what the Trinity means for God first before ever addressing what it means for the church. The rest of the work builds off of this as he shifts his argument to why the triunity of God matters for you and me. He breaks this into two major sections: 1) first, the relationship between the Trinity and salvation and 2) second, the relationship between the Trinity and the Christian life, specifically Scripture reading and prayer. All of this is guided by his opening chapter on Trinitarian methodology which is a faithful and accessible guide to thinking about this doctrine both in his book and others.
Robert Letham, The Holy Trinity
Robert Letham sets out to provide Christians with an well-organized and well-researched resource on the Trinity. His approach is four fold: 1) The biblical argument, 2) the historical development, 3) the modern interaction, and 4) the critical ideas surrounding this doctrine. The bulk of the work is historical and that is where this volume really shines. Though at times a bit dry, anyone looking to know the doctrine of the Trinity biblically, and especially historically, will find this is a great entry point.
T. F. Torrance | The Christian Doctrine of God
For those seeking to go more in depth in their studies of this doctrine, T. F. Torrance is a key modern conversation partner. Much of current Trinitarian discussion will engage his thought. Torrance, of course, has his theological commitments, as he is a disciple of Karl Barth. So be discerning as you interact with The Christian Doctrine of God. With that said, Torrance’s influence on the way we think about the doctrine of the Trinity is dynamic and thought provoking.
I am sure there are many great works that I have left of this list. Feel free to leave comments that might help those in our churches grow in their knowledge and love of our Trinitarian God.
About J. Ryan Lister
J. Ryan Lister (PhD, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is Associate Professor of Theology at Western Seminary in Portland, Oregon. He is the author of The Presence of God: Its Place in the Storyline of Scripture and the Story of Our Lives. He and his wife, Chase Elizabeth, have four children.