Review of The Forgotten Trinity: Recovering the Heart of Christian Belief by James R. White

Now I will be the first to admit that I have not read much about the trinity other than a couple of sections out of various systematic theology books, so this book was a very welcome read. It is always good to contemplate the character of God, but what better than to think on what the Athanasian Creed calls “The Unity in Trinity, and the Trinity in Unity.”

It has long been understood by theologians that the term “Trinity” is not recorded in Scripture. But has White demonstrates if the following three foundations are true, the only conclusion that we can come to is that of One God in Three Persons, the One Trinitarian God.

  1. Monotheism: There is Only One God
  2. There Are Three Divine Persons
  3. The Persons Are Coequal and Coeternal

Therefore, as White approaches the three foundations, he gives the scriptural support to show that Christians have always believe in One God, the same God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The fast majority of the book however is devoted with dealing with the Deity of Christ. I appreciated White’s treatment of texts that are often used to deny the deity of Christ, especially Pilippians 2, John 1, and Colossians 1. As a believer it was a delight to mediated on the Incarnate God and the significance and yet perplexity of the Unity of the Father and the Son and the Unity of the Divine and the Human in One Person. The discussion of the deity the Spirit while brief was a great reminder that the Spirit is not some immaterial force, but a Person, who has feelings, an intellect, and a will.

The doctrine of the Trinity is presented in this book in simple and understandable pieces. It is written in a way that is accessible to the lay person, but offers tidbits for the more scholarly reader. Two specific examples are his explanation of the Greek of John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” and his connection of Philippians 2:6 “who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasp” with the theme of humility in Philippians 2:3-11.

One other helpful section of the book was his discussion of the history of the doctrine of the Trinity as he attempted to show from the writings of the early church fathers that they held to a Trinitarian doctrine (i.e. One God = the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit). They held to a monotheistic believe, but at the same time believed the Father to be God, the Son to be God, and the Spirit to be God.

While it is true that no one can explain the nature of God completely, we as believers should endeavor to know what ever trues about Himself He has chosen to reveal to us. This includes understanding the nature of the Father, the Son, and the Spirit and their relation to on another. The Forgotten Trinity is a great book for beginning that quest.