Review: Reordering the Trinity

4378 trinity cover CC.inddThere are few doctrines more central to orthodox Christianity than that of the Triune Godhead. Still, despite its imperative nature, the Trinity remains one of the most difficult doctrines for most Christians to defend biblically. Is the Trinity in the New Testament, or it simply a patristic misunderstanding? Does the triune nature of God matter to the average Christian as they seek to live faithfully and biblically? It is within the difficulty of answering these questions that Reordering the Trinity: Six Movements of God in the New Testament by Rodrick K. Durst (Ph.D, Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary) positions itself as a timely and helpful volume.

Reordering the Trinity is an exciting and engaging academic voyage into the New Testament attestation of the triadic formula, or formulas as presented by Durst. Most readers of the book will be well-acquainted with the traditional triadic formula found within the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20), where Jesus mandates the baptism of disciples in the name of the Father, Son, and Spirit (F-S-Sp). However, looking across the literature of the New Testament, the representation of this triadic order only accounts for 24% of the occurrences (p. 70). In fact, as Durst skillfully presents, there is a total of six triadic formulas—each exhibiting a different order, and each emphasizing a specific purpose.

Durst begins his examination with four important introductory chapters. Chapter one looks to review the state of the doctrine of the Trinity in contemporary circles. It is here that Durst seeks to place Reordering the Trinity before the reader as a fresh approach to the significance of the Trinity in the worship and life of the Church. Chapter two provides the reader with the data and research that underlies the presentation of the six triadic formulas articulated in later chapters. The reader will find this chapter well constructed and extremely useful for future reference and research. Chapter three looks the Hebrew Scriptures to make a case for plurality in the Godhead of the Old Testament. Durst does well in building his case, although I was surprised not to find any reference to Alan F. Segal (Two Powers in Heaven, Brill, 1977) or Michael S. Heiser (The Divine Council in Later Canonical and Non-Canonical Second Temple Literature, PhD diss., University of Wisconsin, 2004). Lastly, chapter four traces the doctrine of the Trinity through the historical landscape of the Christian Church.

The remainder of the book, chapters five thru ten, seeks to analyze and expound upon function and purpose of the six triadic formulas (F-S-Sp/Missional, S-F-Sp/Christological, Sp-S-F/Ecclesial, S-Sp-F/Regenerative, Sp-F-S/Sanctifying, F-Sp-S/Formational). Each chapter opens with a table outlining all the occurrences within the specified triadic formula, and includes a designated rating, a word or two about the context, and a brief summary. Following the table, Durst examines and comments on each occurrence individually and in canonical order. The chapters close with a few discussion questions for reflection and retention, as well as a sermon starter section aimed at helping the pastor articulate the content for his congregation. Durst appropriately concludes the book with a practical chapter on becoming a functional Trinitarian and several helpful appendixes (great for future reference).

Reordering the Trinity is an exciting and helpful book. I found Durst to be both thorough and thoughtful in his research and presentation. The intentional balance between scholarly rigor, pastoral application, and Christian spiritual formation is admirable in its own right. Add the consistently fair and faithful examination of the biblical text in relation to the Trinity, and you have a volume well-worth its weight in gold. I found this book to be refreshing and persuasive in its presentation, and thus I find myself indebted to the labor therein. It has largely reoriented how I read the triadic formulas and provided me with much to think about, both academically and spiritually. If you are looking for a fresh engagement into one of the most important theological convictions of the Christian faith, Reordering the Trinity: Six Movements of God in the New Testament by Rodrick K. Durst is an essential read. I foresee it being off my shelf often for reference.

 

I received a review copy of these books in exchange for and honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

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