Want to understand the Trinity of God more deeply and clearly? Let us then highlight for you, here at AffirmingGender, the British Trinitarian Theologian, Michael Reeves, and his 130 page book, Delighting in the Trinity. Because Dr. Reeves is that most wonderful of all things, a theologian with a sense of humor. So his book brings a cheerful clarity rather than confusion to the deep topic of God. But more than that, this Trinitarian expert appreciates how God’s internal relationships can inform and inspire our own.
Dr. Reeves treats the Trinity in classical fashion. He looks at what we can know about the Three-In-One through the Biblical lenses of eternity past (the Immanent Trinity), then of God’s creation, of redemptive history (the historia salutis) and of how God applies salvation to people (the ordo salutis). Only he doesn’t use words like that, steering a wide berth around theological lingo. But in addition, and this is his great contribution, Dr. Reeves presents the Trinity’s character and acts via the relational intimacy between The Persons. Through and through, his presentation calls out Their mutual interdependence. Thus he wisely leaves open the path to, even encourages, understanding the Trinity through our human relational experiences. We could put it this way. This Oxford historian seems to be aware that there is another Scriptural lens, besides creation and soteriology through which we espy God’s Three in One: that of anthropology.
This is a key thought because it is exactly anthropology, or how we comprehend and conduct ourselves in our genders, that the Church has yet to understand well. The area of man and women together imaging God is one where theology is lacking. Dr. Reeves writes:
Genesis 1:27 ‘God created man in his own image…male and female’…the fact that the God in whose image we are made is specifically the triune God of love has repercussions that echo all through Scripture. Made in the image of this God, we are created to delight in harmonious relationship, to love God, to love each other. Thus Jesus taught that the first and greatest commandment in the law is to love the Lord…and neighbor…(Mt 22:36-39). That is what we are created for. (Pp64-65)
Thus the author does us a great service with his erudition and humor in pointing us to see the Trinity reflected in our relationships. And to see our relationships, subject to the norms of Scripture, in the Trinity. So he says, for example, when contrasting Genesis 2 with the gnostic text, The Gospel of Thomas:
God is not lonely, it made perfect sense to say that it is not good to have men alone. As God is not alone, so a human in his image should not be alone. [The early Christians] therefore upheld creation and the physical, femininity, relationship and marriage all as being intrinsically good, created reflections of a God who is not lonely. (P55)
He can follow this idea with:
There is something about the relationship and difference between the man and the woman, Adam and Eve, that images the being of God—something we saw the apostle Paul pick up on in 1Corinthians 11:3. Eve is a person quite distinct from Adam, and yet she has all her life and being from Adam. She comes from his side, is bone of his bones and flesh of his flesh, and is one with him in the flesh (Gen 2:21-24). Far better than leaves, eggs and liquids, that reflects a personal God, a Son who is distinct from his Father, and yet who is the very being of the Father, and who is eternally one with him in the Spirit.” (P37)
Thank you, Dr. Reeves, for a great insight there, about that “something” the apostle Paul picked up on. And what that “something” is is something the church needs to plumb if we are going to be able to engage our culture in its current machinations about gender and, just as critical, if we are going to live together in a way that pleases God and edifies each other.
In a future post, I expect to take up Dr. Reeves’ help with the Holy Spirit and the meaning of this Third member of the Godhead for our relationships.
In the meantime, if you ever wanted a small book that helps you enter in to more of what the Triune God is and does, I recommend this one.
Do you thank God for His Triune nature when you enjoy relationships?