The Good God
“God is triune, and it is as triune that he is so good and desirable.”
Many see the Trinity as too complicated, unnecessary, unbiblical, or all of the above.
Michael Reeves however, is not content for us to just believe in the Trinity because we’re supposed to, he wants us to be happy about it – he actually wants us to rejoice in the Trinity! The Good God is Reeves’ impassioned case. (This book is also published as Delighting in the Trinity in the USA by IVP. The contents are virtually the same, except for editorial features.)
His own thesis is as follows:
“This book, then, will simply be about growing in our enjoyment of God and seeing how God’s triune being makes all his ways beautiful”.
Reeves begins by attacking head-on complacency about the Trinity by arguing that the identity of our God as Trinity is what makes “Christianity absolutely distinct”. Throughout the rest of the book he shows how God as Trinity is central to everything in our faith. To achieve his goal, Reeves uses Scripture, theologians and early church fathers, and a good dose of disarming humour.
First, he asks what God was doing before He created. Reeves insightfully states that if God identity is primarily Creator or Ruler, then He would have lacked something until He created or had creation to rule over. Instead, what makes our God unique is that He is primarily a Father eternally loving His Son through the Spirit. Our God is by nature relational, loving and self-giving.
In the following chapters, Reeves shows how absolute centrality of God as Trinity plays out in creation, salvation and the Christian life. In creation, the Father’s love overflows. In salvation, we see the Son’s giving nature on the cross. And in the Christian life, we experience the Spirit’s beautifying presence. And in all three aspects, each member of the Trinity is present and united.
In his conclusion, Reeves goes so far to suggest that the growth of atheism may be proportionate to the decline of interest and focus in the Trinity. Agreeing with anti-theists about the evil of a Big-Brother god, Reeves rejoices that the true Trinitarian God is different! As Trinity, He is distinctly self-giving and others-focused. Ultimately, a correct understanding of God changes everything.
This book is funny.
I don’t mean that it’s strange, what I mean is that at times it’s borderline hilarious. Before picking up this book I didn’t remember anyone mentioning this, but Reeves’ distinctly British humour is one of the most striking features of this book. Now for some, humour in a theology book may be confusing when one is not expecting a punchline or a joke about John Owen’s wig, or it may even be seen as borderline irreverent, though this was not my experience at all. Reeves is a great teacher – able to make his subject enjoyable through illustrations, unbridled enthusiasm for the subject (get the reference?), and also humour.
Second to being such an enjoyable book to read, what struck me the most was Reeves’ clarity while tackling such a complicated subject as the nature of our God. This is all the more notable since Reeves isn’t content to simply skirt the surface, but gets his hands dirty and even engages with sometimes-abstruse quotations from such as Barth and Edwards. Through engaging writing, Reeves is able to help any reader understand these theologians and hopefully join in with his admiration for them.
Another distinct aspect of this book is its flowing nature, probably due to its original inception as a series of lectures. Reeves very smoothly moves from one issue to the next without much hindrance. For some who like arguments and proofs to be laid out logically and then neatly summarised, this book could be frustrating. If this were a book trying to biblically prove the Trinity, it would be an issue, but following Reeves’ thesis, the fluidness only adds to the readability and enjoyableness.
Every few pages there are ‘sidebars’ of sorts, addressing a related issue like the implications of the Trinity on mathematics or music, or giving a brief introduction to a theologian and their thoughts. This keeps Reeves from losing focus in the main text, but also gives the reader bite-sized breaks, and a little taste of the wide-ranging impact of the Trinity that other books neglect. And he does all this in fewer than 150 pages!
You may have noticed little in the way of criticism, that’s because it’s hard to find negative things to say. For a book that aims to show the importance of the Trinity and have the reader caught up in enjoying our God, The Good God succeeds on every level.
For those looking for a Biblically robust defence of the Trinity, this is not the book for you. However, for those who want to know why Christians should care about the Trinity (whether you are a believer or unbeliever), this is ideal. In fact, this is a wonderful introduction to the Christian faith.
It’s for that reason that I’ve assigned this book to my Introduction to Theology students at CCBCY. In one short, enjoyable book, we have reasons to delight in the Trinity, a summary of the Christian faith seen through the lens of the Trinity, introductions to and quotations from prominent Christian theologians and early fathers, and ultimately, a passionate plea for a deeper devotional life!
While this serves as a great introduction, if you are a more mature Christian, don’t think that this book is not for you. In fact, I heartily recommend this book to any Christian at any stage of their life. I’ve been a Christian my whole life, and still was completely caught up in this book, being left with a new passion to better know our unique and Triune God.
[Many thanks to Sarah Gallagher and Authentic Media for providing a review copy and giveaway copy of this book!]