Mike Reeves’ new book, The Good God: Enjoying Father, Son and Spirit, hits the shelves in a matter of days. Theology Network’s Angus Moyes plays devil’s advocate and quizes Mike on why the Trinity is so essential to Christian thought and life.
Why write a book on the Trinity? Aren’t there more pressing issues for Christians?
Yes, for sure, there are always pressing, immediate issues facing Christians. But knowing God (the triune God, that is) is at the very heart of what it is to be a Christian. To know and grow to enjoy him is what we are saved for – and that is what I want to press into in the book. (I stress the enjoyment there, as I don’t want readers to understand some boring truth; I want them to finish the book thinking ‘I do find the Trinity very moreish.’) And because knowing God is the very epicentre of the Christian life, I hope this little Trinitarian tasting will be deeply reforming and reviving for many.
For most Christians, the forgiveness won on the cross is the central and most essential aspect of their faith – do we really need to understand something to difficult as the Trinity?
I think you’re right: that is where many Christians are at. Now I want to say as strongly as I can that Christ crucified is our Christian banner, our message, our gospel. Having said that, though, it is all too easy then to think that the gospel is merely about forgiveness, merely about salvation from the hellish consequences of our sin. But the Father sent his Son, not merely to save us from death, but to save us for life – ‘and this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent’ (Jn 17:3). Now if the eternal life we are saved for is about knowing God, then knowing God can’t be something dreary and irrelevant: it must be like sucking in the freshest Alpine air, like basking in the sunshine on a fine spring morning; it must be like being alive – and that is what I’ve tried to capture.
If God really is Father, Son and Spirit, what difference would believing that have on a Christian’s daily life?
Oh, all the difference in the universe! It makes a difference to how – or whether – you’ll pray (is God your loving, caring Father or just The Supreme Being?). It changes whether or not you can even love God (is God essentially lovely or a selfish despot?). I want to suggest that only a triune God is more attractive than sin, and that only the triune God can give a rationale for music, marriage, friendship, church, love – in fact, for everything that is good and enjoyable (oh, and for maths). That all means that belief in Father, Son and Spirit makes the difference between delight and drudgery in the Christian life.
What problems do you think arise from Christians thinking of God as a single-person God and not as Trinity?
Interesting question! Muslims tend to think of the Trinity as the irrational weak-point in Christianity, and I’ve hoped that this book might turn that around so Christians talking to their Muslim friends get to the Trinity quickly as the best news and the only way to make sense of a good God. But what you ask is what I fear: that Christians themselves are too often functionally Muslim in that the God they believe looks like a single-person God. Now belief drives behaviour, and so if a Christian believes like a Muslim, their Christian experience and life must look Islamic. At root that will mean that instead of a heartfelt love for the Lord their God they can only know that external ‘submission’. Such a Christianity must be joyless – and must be unattractive for the watching world. I’d love to see some readers liberated from all that, for them to have their minds relieved and their hearts won by the truth of a God who, being Trinity, is unutterably beautiful and good.
“At the heart of the universe is the passionate love between the members of the Trinity. Mike Reeves not only helps us grapple with a difficult doctrine but draws us to the magnetically attractive centre of all things. His light touch and theological wisdom combine to provide a truly helpful book which both clears your mind and warms your heart.” Terry Virgo, Newfrontiers, UK