Wednesday, February 03, 2016
Review: "Reordering the Trinity"
I’ve just finished reading, Reordering the Trinity: Six Movements of God in the New Testament by Roderick K. Durst. My first comment is that this is a book that needs time – not that the language of the text is difficult (and there is a glossary of terms at the end of the book), but because what he says was new to me and what to do with what he says is taking me time to think through and absorb. This is a good thing.
Durst’s thesis is that all six triadic matrices of the Trinity are present in the texts of the New Testament – and it matters that they do.
The Trinity is spoken of as:
In the first chapter, Durst shows the importance of Trinitarian theology in contemporary discussion.
Then, he shows that each of the Trinitarians matrices can be found in the New Testament and what percentage of the seventy-five matrices each one is found in. He also shows that each of the six matrices is found in a distinctly different context (79ff).
In the third chapter, he explores the Trinitarian presence in the Old Testament. This chapter ends with a “sermon starter” – giving guidance on how to preach the Trinity from the Old Testament (115ff).
The fourth chapter is a historical and theological overview of the debates and conclusions about what is held as orthodox teaching about the Trinity. This chapter ends with a “sermon starter” on how to preach the doctrine of the Trinity (151).
At this point, he moves into the second section of the book, in which he examines each of the six matrices contextually and in detail, showing their differences and the focus of each matrix. After each one, he gives a “sermon starter” which shows how to preach the specific aspect of the Trinity’s ministry in each matrix.
In the third section, he explores ten aspects of preaching which lead to “becoming a functional Trinitarian for everyday worship, life, and ministry” (287ff).
Finally, the book ends with a series of appendices: first, a chart of the occurrences of the matrices in the New Testament, second, a glossary of terms, third, a challenge to pray using the six matrices, fourth, a challenge to meditate on the six matrices – one each week for six weeks, and fifth, and attempt to explain the Trinity to youth.
The final appendix contains the one big problem in the book – Durst’s use of an apple, a flashlight, or going to school as means to understand the Trinity (332) very easily slide into heresy. It is best to stick with the creedal descriptions and not try to use earthy examples to explain the Trinity – because there is no example of the Trinity except the Trinity – every other example fails and may mislead someone into heresy – something we surely do not want!
He includes a lengthy bibliography and index.
My one problem aside – this is a tremendous work. As I began to read, I saw the author had done a tremendous amount of homework, and I found the matrices interesting – but I was wondering – so what?
Sticking with the book and letting it sink in is the key. As I examined the “sermon starters" and the his “ten aspects of preaching,” I began to have a flurry of thought about how to preach and how to better preach the texts about the Trinity. I am convinced that this will be a go to reference for me as I explore and work to biblically preach the doctrine of the Trinity. That being said, I especially recommend this book for preachers. Spend the time in it and consider the nuances that enhance our understanding of the Trinity as God has so graciously portrayed Himself in the Scripture.
Each chapter ends with discussion questions for group use of this book.
[I received this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This review appears on my blog and Amazon.com.]