Why We Need The Worship Wars

April 26, 2013

Unless you believe in orthopathy as essential to Christianity, the worship wars are much ado about nothing. They represent the dying thrashes of hide-bound traditionalists, raging against the waning popularity of those songs most familiar to them. They represent the immature clamour of people who do not understand the Romans 14 principle, and want to elevate their preferences to the level of orthodoxy.

If you believe, as I do,  in the very notion of orthopathy, then the worship wars are a natural, and indeed, essential part of church life. While no Spirit-filled Christian delights in conflict, no Spirit-filled Christian doubts that some conflict is inevitable and necessary. Consider how important doctrinal conflict has been.

We should be very thankful for the heretics and their heresies. Without them, we would not know all the ways that Christian orthodoxy can be denied and twisted. Before the heretics come along, orthodoxy is assumed, without clear definition. Through the heresies of Gnosticism, Ebionism, Apollonarianism, Eutychianism, Nestorianism, Arianism, and Sabellianism, the church hammered out orthodox Christology and trinitarianism. The Apostles’, Nicene, and Athanasian creeds represent responses to heresies, and defining points for orthodoxy. The creeds represent points of definition. After the definition, deviations represent heterodoxy. A certain amount of vagueness or imprecision is expected before the point of definition that becomes intolerable after the point of definition.

For that matter, we can be thankful for the heresies of transsubstantiation, indulgences, baptismal regeneration, Mary as co-redemptrix, and others, for leading to the Reformation with its five solas. In many ways, our propositional statements of faith, as ornate as they now appear, partly represent a kind of timeline of doctrinal combat.

What has been true in the area of orthodoxy, has also been true in orthopathy. The affective domain of the faith, which is not merely what we have said, but how we have felt, how we have responded to those truths, has had its heresies, and its turning points of definition. If we are orthodox in doctrine, we should expect that we will respond to the truth as other orthodox Christians in history have, not an identical reaction, but an equivalent one for our place and time. And in two thousand years of doctrinal development, there has also been two millennia of affective, aesthetic development.

Steve Miller, in his masterful misrepresentation of liturgical history in The Contemporary Christian Music Debate, enjoys surveying the worship wars of previous centuries, in hopes of persuading us that sooner or later, the critics of CCM will get with the times, as did the critics of Watts’ hymns, or the critics of the organ, or the critics of a liturgy in the vernacular. That these debates existed, we do not doubt. That the modern worship wars are simply the contemporary version of these discussions, we do not dispute. That they represent nothing more than initial alarm to what will become standard orthopathy in one generation, we vehemently dispute.

Certainly there have been overreactions and over-corrections. Certainly, novelties are often regarded with suspicion, and once they become normative, the previous objectors seem amusingly alarmist. But what we often miss is that through the debates over orthopathy such as conflict over polyphony, original (that is, non-psalmic) hymns, or the gospel song, the church was doing in the affective domain precisely what it had done in the doctrinal domain. Doctrinal controversies said, “We speak of Christ like this, and not like that.” Affective controversies said, “We respond to Christ like this, and not like that.” And before the nearly wholesale abandonment of traditional worship forms in favour of entertainment at the end of the 19th century, Christian worship represented an inheritance of hundreds of years of corrections and refinements.

We should not be surprised that there exists in our era contention over proper sensibilities toward God. The truly alarming thing would be if there were none. What is somewhat different in our era is the post-modern mood that despises debate and clear definition. This pseudo-tolerance has long ago compromised the doctrinal integrity of professing Evangelicals. The same worldly mood that abhors necessary conflict and clear definition in doctrinal matters, is even more incensed at the thought of anything similar in the more subjective realm of orthopathy. In some ways, the most problematic people are not the combatants in the worship wars, but those who insist there should be none.

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Mind Your Manners – 4 – Irreverent and Culpable

April 12, 2013

 Thus far in this series, we have seen several truths about manners and their relation to worship and worship forms:

  1. All cultures have manners. All cultures recognise the importance of appropriate responses.

  2. The expression of these appropriate responses differs greatly between cultures.

  3. These differences do not relativise the affections of reverence or honour. They demonstrate that meaning comes about in different ways for different cultures.

  4. The meaning on the gesture that represents the affection may have come about through use, through association, or through some stipulation by an authority. Furthermore, the culture may have the response wrong through its own idolatries.

  5. Inhabitants of a culture are responsible to understand the meaning of the gestures, forms, metaphors, and expressions in their culture. They are responsible to do so, because they have the obligation to communicate with God and man, and must do so with the tools they have.

This brings us to our last question. If what we have said is true, there are plenty of people committing acts of profanity and irreverence in the name of God. If an act or gesture does not become reverent simply because I sincerely wish it were so, or claim it is, then plenty of people are performing acts of irreverence and disrespect towards God. However, they would deny this, so how do we account for this?

First, some are ignorant of meaning, but still culpable. With today’s public education system, it is quite possible to insult a teenager without his knowing it. The teen’s small vocabulary or ignorance of metaphors does not change the fact that he has been insulted. Furthermore, if he decides to repeat the insult to a superior, his ignorance does not make him polite. Ignorance of meaning still makes one culpable. Quite a few people were apparently ignorant of the meaning of carrying the Ark on an ox-cart as opposed to the prescribed method, but their ignorance did not absolve them. Some may be enlisting in worship those musical forms that embody irreverence and disorder, without understanding that those forms do so. They are not innocent, for if one can tell others what your CCM does not mean, surely you have to be in a position to say what it does mean.

Second, some are desensitized to meanings, but still culpable. People growing up with R-rated rap are unlikely to detect how sensual Strauss’ waltzes are. The meaning of those waltzes has not changed; but the sensitivity to perceive it has diminished with the flood of the erotic. If you are surrounded by the chaos of rock, eventually the chaos seems normal, and you detect no incongruity in using it for worship. Again, this does not reduce culpability, any more than man’s depravity makes him less culpable to believe the gospel. Perverseness does not make us more innocent, but more guilty.

Third, some are dismissive of meaning, and especially culpable. Some are not interested in even considering the meaning of their cherished idols, lest they have to surrender them. They mock attempts to parse meanings, and hide behind the words preference, style, subjective, and non-issue. Again, they pretend the meaning of their chosen expression is open and relative, except when their music is criticized, at which point they become quite dogmatic that their music does not mean that.

In summary, many are rude to God, with more or less culpability for their irreverence. They deny that they are irreverent, but they will have to give account for their posture towards God. The one who did not know his Master’s will will be beaten with less stripes. The one who did – the one who knew that his Master had called him to test all things and hold fast to what is good – but instead suppressed the truth, was willingly ignorant, and a sluggard regarding discernment, he shall be beaten with many.

The Power and Place of Ridicule

April 9, 2013

A post like this may seem to some like those who call evil good and good evil. Can there be anything edifying in ridicule? Is ridicule ever an exercise in saying what is true, noble, just, pure, lovely, virtuous and praiseworthy?

Our aversion to ridicule may not be because we side so strongly with principles of biblical communication. It may be that we have not sufficiently loved what God loves, so as to hate what God hates. Perhaps our dismissal of ridicule as a lawful form of expression for a Christian represents a concession to our culture’s apathy and indifference to right and wrong, and deference to a kind of social equanimity, so visibly manifested in what is called “Minnesota Nice” in that cheerful and chilly State. Courtesy, aversion to argumentativeness or conflict, quiet and modest disagreement, and a generous opinion of all others is seen as ‘niceness’, and of course, Christians are supposed to lead the pack in niceness.

No doubt we could quickly proof-text the importance of being peace-makers, of the courtesy and benevolence contained in love, and of being winsome witnesses to Christ. Who would deny these? No Christian I know of. However, what is often denied is the plain fact that Scripture contains plenty of ridicule, some of it from the lips of the godliest men in Scripture, whose examples we are to imitate.

Elijah is doing nothing less than ridiculing the prophets of Baal when he asks if their God is on a journey or otherwise indisposed. God, through the mouth of Isaiah, mocks the man who uses one end of a piece of wood to bake his bread, and the other end to become his god. Jeremiah does the same, adding that Israel reminds one of camels and donkeys in heat. God ridicules Job’s impertinence in demanding answers from the Almighty by asking him what would be elementary on a Grade One Creator exam. Solomon mocks the sluggard as a squeaky door on its hinges, the lustful youth as a dumb animal to the slaughter, the complaining wife as an incessant dripping on a rainy day, and the fool as a vomit-lapping dog. It’s hard not to see Paul’s descriptions of the Cretans as ridicule, and what else shall we call our Lord’s descriptions of the Pharisees, when He called them blind leaders of the blind, or pictured them praying with themselves thanking God that they were not as other men?

It is the quick-and-easy response of the Niceness Police to point out that these expressions came either from God Himself or from apostles and prophets, and we have no business trying to mimic them. To which I respond, how do you know? On what basis do you place the scorn and ridicule of the Bible as off-limits to God’s people today? Did Scripture teach you that? Do Scriptures such as Ephesians 5:4 or Philippians 4:8 actually indict the verbal behaviour of the prophets and the Lord Himself? It would seem we need to find a place for Scripture’s use of ridicule and scorn, not bowlderise it. We need to harmonise ridicule with principles of godly communication, not embalm it as a historical curiosity.

What does ridicule do? By making sport of the object, we laugh. When we laugh, we know that the object is not to be taken seriously. We are not to lend credibility to Baal worship, or Pharisaism. Such beliefs and behaviours are contemptuous and should be scorned. By encouraging and provoking contempt for what God hates, we may create a simultaneous piety toward what God loves.

Why should we choose ridicule over a less edgy form of expression? In the nature of things, not every opinion needs to be treated seriously, because not every opinion has been seriously considered or seriously articulated. Not every act deserves serious consideration, for not every act has been seriously contemplated for its meaning, or seriously performed. If the speakers and doers were not serious to begin with, do they merit being taken seriously? Should we unjustly lend them treatment they do not deserve? Should I listen to a nonsense rhyme with the scrutiny I give to Bach’s St Matthew’s Passion? If someone is acting like a duffer and a goofball, the perfectly appropriate response is to point out that he is acting like a goofball and a duffer.

Great danger looms here, however. Scripture warns us against the reckless scoffer and the careless mocker. Ridicule is a tool like fire. The trained fireman actually knows a constructive use for fire. He knows the importance of destroying for the sake of conservation: creating fire-breaks to prevent further damage, razing a condemned structure to prevent further injury or death, allowing fires to burn themselves out, lest they persist and spread. The eight-year-old boy is simply thrilled to see something burn. Scorn and contempt in the hands of a youth or a novice usually does little but harm.

Before we take up the flame-thrower of ridicule, we must be deeply committed to conserving the faith. We would not want to destroy anything true, good and beautiful while torching something else. We should demonstrate our deep love for what God loves, and display how much we cherish, the true, the pure, the just, the noble, the lovely, and the virtuous. Let those careful communicators who know what is to be kept, and what is to be incinerated, use the flame of ridicule to create love for what God loves.

Mind Your Manners – 3 – Manners and Meaning

April 5, 2013

What do widely varying manners tell us about ordinate affection? Some reason this way: since some cultures regard eye-contact as respectful, and others regard eye-contact as impudent, these opposite understandings of reverence show the relative and subjective nature of manners. These outward expressions are adiaphora – indifferent, neutral things. The morality lies in the person giving or withholding eye-contact: the person is either seeking to be respectful or not, and this is what gives morality to the action.

No argument that one’s intention to be respectful is a major part of the meaning of the manner in question. But is that all that is needed? If a young Zulu man decides that eye-contact ought to be regarded as respectfulness by his elders, should his sincerity count as reverence in a Zulu culture? However much sincerity the man may have, he still has to grapple with the meaning of eye-contact in his culture at the time.

The fact that one culture regards eye-contact with a superior as rude, and another regards a lack of eye-contact as dishonest evasiveness does not make these gestures amoral or meaningless. It simply means that the meaning of these gestures in different cultures comes about in different ways. Some of it will be stipulative: at some point a particular gesture is simply designated to have a meaning, which the members of the culture will observe. Sometimes meaning comes about through associations and through use: the obscene hand and finger signals are quite different between cultures, but they have come to have a conventional meaning in each culture. In the case of some gestures, something is intrinsic to the meaning of the motion. For example, there is no culture in which bowing or kneeling before someone is a sign of dominance, aggression or suggested superiority.

These various influences shape the meaning of manners, so that their applications can look very different, and even opposite, between cultures. What we cannot miss is what all the cultures hold in common: expressions of reverence, courtesy, and appropriate love. All cultures have manners: and the manners of some cultures have been more influenced by Christian thinking than others. Every culture has its code of gestures, tones, and responses that incarnate its idea of appropriate responses.

This all puts the lie to the idea that in the current melting pot of cultures, any and all responses to God count as reverent, so long as the worshiper feels it is so. Though we are confronted with differing cultures and their manners like never before, these each have meaning. The challenge (and it is a large one) is to understand the meaning of certain tones, gestures, terms of address, surroundings, technologies, musical forms in the culture you worship in. What is their meaning? The meaning may well be in dispute, which should come as no surprise in a world which uses meaninglessness as a cover for its sin. This does not absolve us from the responsibility to find out. If something has obtained a meaning through association or use, what is that meaning? If the meaning is shifting, how is it changing and in what direction? Is it consonant with reverence and respect? If the meaning has come about through its created form, what is that meaning? Among those who believe in meaning, what is the consensus regarding its meaning?

Certainly, the post-mods will want to assign meaning arbitrarily: it means what I want it to mean. But if the Zulu father will not accept the young man’s revision of eye-contact merely because of his sincerity, is it altogether implausible that God may not regard certain actions as reverent, however much we may wish it to be so? Certainly God is omniscient, and not confined to the meaning found in one culture only. He understands and knows the meaning of all things, whether that meaning has come about by use, association or naturally. He knows how meanings change in a given culture. He knows if that meaning is understood by all, most, some, or hardly any in a culture. He understands how sincere a person’s heart is, and He understands how diligent a person has been to understand the meaning of his offered worship. Which brings us to our last question: if a person does not understand the meaning of what he is doing, is he culpable for that action? If he sincerely means something one way, but it means another, which meaning prevails, in God’s eyes? Or to summarise: is it possible to be unintentionally irreverent towards God?

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April 3, 2013

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Before the Cross

March 29, 2013

My Lord, my Master, at Thy feet adoring,
I see Thee bowed beneath Thy load of woe:
For me, a sinner, is Thy life-blood pouring;
For Thee, my Saviour, scarce my tears will flow.

Thine own disciple to the Jews has sold Thee,
With friendship’s kiss and loyal word he came;
How oft of faithful love my lips have told Thee,
While Thou hast seen my falsehood and my shame!

With taunts and scoffs they mock what seems Thy weakness,
With blows and outrage adding pain to pain;
Thou art unmoved and steadfast in Thy meekness;
When I am wronged how quickly I complain!

My Lord, my Saviour, when I see Thee wearing
Upon Thy bleeding brow the crown of thorn,
Shall I for pleasure live, or shrink from bearing
Whate’er my lot may be of pain or scorn?

O Victim of Thy love, O pangs most healing,
O saving death, O wounds that I adore,
O shame most glorious! Christ, before Thee kneeling,
I pray Thee keep me Thine for evermore.

– Jacques Bridaine, 1701-1767
Translated by Thomas Benson Pollock, 1836-1896

Mind Your Manners – 2 – The Strange Silence Around the Third Commandment

March 22, 2013

“You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.”

This command is universally understood to mean that God’s name is not to be used as a curse-word, or as a mere exclamation. And who would deny that? To use the very name of God to express irritation or surprise, to add verbal oomph to a promise, or to simply use His name as a joke would surely violate this command.

How do we know that? Is there anywhere in the rest of the Law of Moses that explains and applies the Third Commandment? Not explicitly, anyway. Apparently, this command supplies a principle, to which believers were, and are, supposed to supply applications.

What is the principle? Since one’s name represents one’s person and character, the name of God represents more than simply the verbal pronouncement or written letters of God’s names or titles. The name of God represents God’s person. To take His name in vain, is to take His person, character and reputation in vain. “To take in vain” is to treat as light, empty, or worthless. It is to misuse something in a fashion that trivialises its dignity, devalues its import, or profanes its uniqueness. The timeless principle of the Third Commandment seems to be: do not treat God in any way that trivialises, devalues, or profanes Him. Positively: fear God, and give Him the glory due His name (Ps 29:2).

One can easily see how using God’s actual name as a swear-word would profane God. But are there not other lawful applications of this command? What about treating His Supper as common? What about treating His Day like any other day? What about making light of God’s Word in a sermon? What of Sunday School songs that make God into something comical or amusing? What about methods of evangelism that ‘theme’ the gospel after some form of entertainment or leisure? What about worshipping God with forms used for revelry, narcissism and entertainment? Are there forms of speech, song, poetry, prayer, dress that would portray God as lightweight, inconsequential or unimportant? Could a certain kind of behaviour drag God’s reputation through the mud, particularly by those who name Him?

We’re probably only getting started with possible applications. The point is, the Third Commandment, like most of them, gives a command which is timeless, and therefore generalised. “Treat God’s Person With Respect”, might be a paraphrase. This broad principle then needs to be worked into differing ages, cultures, and situations. God gives us the etiquette – treat Me with reverence – and expects us to apply it.

And there’s the rub. We can take God’s relative silence about how to flesh out the Third Commandment two ways. We can assume that the only moral aspect of the Commandment is the timeless principle, while the applications, because they may differ from culture to culture, are amoral. What becomes moral, in this way of thinking, is the desire, or the sincerity with which a person wishes to reverence God. The actual forms, habits, speech, dress and musical forms contain no meaning except insofar as they give a moral agent an opportunity to express his sincere desire to revere God.

The other approach is to see morality extending from the timeless commandment through to the applications, even when these applications are not spelt out by Scripture. The applications are moral insofar as they carry meanings. These meanings can communicate, in a given culture, reverence for God or its opposite. This meaning comes about in several ways, but since it is present in every culture, what is needed to keep the Third Commandment is more than sincerity, but discernment. Every moral agent needs to grow in knowledge, to judge the meaning, in his culture, of his acts, habits, gestures and responses to God. I’d like to defend this second approach in the next posts.

Save Them From Secularism

March 20, 2013

Last year, I did a series called Pre-Evangelism For Your Children. I compiled those posts, re-worked them, and added some material on manners and education. The result is this booklet, aimed at parents and pastors, to think through how we create a Christian ‘thinking-grid’ or worldview in our children. While trusting entirely to the decisive work of the Spirit in bringing regeneration, we must not fail to use all means possible to instil in children an imagination shaped by Christian categories, to prepare for and support the gospel and orthodox doctrine.

As a pastor and parent, I’m concerned at how oblivious we seem to be at the many ways that we inculcate a secular imagination. This book is an attempt to point out some of the possible gaps in our thinking and practice.

It’s free for five days at Amazon. If you find it helpful, promote it to other parents, grandparents, pastors, etc.

Save Them From Secularism2

Mind Your Manners: Rude to God

March 15, 2013

Manners are strange and wonderful things. Every culture has them, and yet they often vary widely between cultures. In Western culture, ‘ladies first’ is a way of expressing deference and honour to women, while in some black cultures in South Africa, a man is to enter every space first to demonstrate his protection of those who follow him. Ladies first would be considered cowardice. “Look at me when I’m talking to you!” often rings out in many a home in English-speaking countries, but in several African cultures, eye contact with a superior is considered effrontery and rude. Honour is shown by keeping one’s gaze down. When I lived in Taiwan, I found all my table manners were backwards. Absolutely nothing should be touched with the hands, but loud slurping, chewing and other sounds of mastication and digestion are considered normal and complimentary. Chopsticks alone must be used to pick up food, but a stray ant or bug walking across the table didn’t cause so much as a double-take. In the Afrikaans language, one speaks respectfully by avoiding direct pronouns ‘you’ and your’, so a respectful person will say something like, “Father, will Father be taking Father’s car to the shops, or may I offer Father a lift?” Funerals in the West are observed with silence and dark colours; funerals in Africa have wailers, singing, and a feast. Every culture has its manners, and as far as we can tell, no culture has been without manners. Manners were clearly present in Hebrew culture:

Leviticus 19:32 Rise in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God. I am the LORD.

Deuteronomy 28:49-50  “The LORD will bring a nation against you from afar, from the end of the earth, as swift as the eagle flies, a nation whose language you will not understand,  “a nation of fierce countenance, which does not respect the elderly nor show favor to the young.

Proverbs 30:17 The eye that mocks his father, And scorns obedience to his mother, The ravens of the valley will pick it out, And the young eagles will eat it.

What are these strange things we call manners? To explain them is like explaining a joke. You either get them or you don’t. But on close inspection, they provide much drapery and clothing to our imaginative lives. They distinguish us from mere animals, they demonstrate the transcendence of our lives. Manners turn meals into something more than sustenance, sex into more than mating, clothing into something more than covering, speech into more than sharing information. Through manners we order and arrange our lives, recognising distinctions in age, sex, office, and station in life. Not only do manners provide life with the delight of respect for person, property and occasion, manners actually shape our understanding of oughtness. Certain people ought to be treated in a particular way. Certain occasions ought to be conducted with a kind of decorum. Manners are an elaborate system of value judgements.  “Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.”(1 Peter 2:17) Man judges the meaning and therefore the value of people, things, and events by clothing them with manners. He will invest life with ceremony, from eating, to queuing, to speaking, to attracting the opposite sex, to passing laws, to holding meetings, and until recently, to waging war.

Why should he do this if he is merely advanced protoplasm? Though many today argue for life without manners, man keeps defaulting back to them. Man believes there is a transcendent order, which filters down into a scale of values: some things or people deserve a certain kind of treatment. Some people and things ought to be respected. Some gestures or habits are offensive. Some things are obscene.

Yet, for all this universality of manners, manners are slippery things. Their differing, and sometimes opposite applications in cultures lead people to regard them as arbitrary. No rule-book, not even Emily Post, can finally define manners. But human life would not be human without them.

Since manners reflect a transcendent order, we would do well to ask, are there manners for dealing with God? Can one be rude to God, indecorous in His presence, disrespectful, or unmannered?
The Bible suggests it is possible to be rude to God. Several Scriptures enjoin ‘manners’ before God, and rebuke the lack thereof:

Malachi 1:6 ” A son honors his father, And a servant his master. If then I am the Father, Where is My honor? And if I am a Master, Where is My reverence? Says the LORD of hosts To you priests who despise My name. Yet you say, ‘In what way have we despised Your name?’

Exodus 20:7 ” You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.

Psalm 114:7 Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord, At the presence of the God of Jacob,

Hebrews 12:28 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.

Ezekiel 23:39 39 “For after they had slain their children for their idols, on the same day they came into My sanctuary to profane it; and indeed thus they have done in the midst of My house.

If there are manners before God, how would we know what they are? Are the applications for these manners spelt out in Scripture? What are we to make of this? Do manners in God’s presence differ from culture to culture? How does this relate to the current worship wars? How do we learn manners before God? How should Christians teach younger Christians their manners before God? We’ll attempt some answers to these questions in this series.

Trinitarian Reflections, Ancient and Modern

March 14, 2013

No part of theology delights me as much as the doctrine of the Trinity, with all its implications for our salvation, sanctification, and glorification. Here is a list of some of the works I’ve worked through, or become aware of, as helpful texts for the study of this supremely sublime doctrine. This is a list of books which concern themselves directly with the Trinity, for which reason I’ve left out those systematic theology volumes in which the Trinity is treated as part of a larger body of doctrines. It’s also a mixture of theological, philosophical, and devotional works.

The Athanasian Creed. This condensation of orthodox trinitarianism is the essential starting place for us all.

Against Praxaeus – Tertullian. The first to use the word persona in this debate, Tertullian charts a course between tritheism and Sabellianism.

An Unpublished Essay on the Trinity – Jonathan Edwards. Edwards lays out how our fellowship with God consists in the Holy Spirit Himself, who is the delight of the Father and the Son in each other.

The Deep Things of God – Fred Sanders. Sanders seeks to show how evangelicals are (or should be) functionally trinitarian, but need to become more explicitly cognisant of and delighted in the doctrine of the Trinity.

 Jesus In Trinitarian Perspective (several) Here is a satisfying exploration of Christology in light of trinitarianism on several levels: the relationships within the Trinity (a defence of eternal generation), the person of Christ being the Logos, the defence of Christ’s person having one will, the relationship of the Trinity to the atonement, and Christ’s relationship to the Father and the Spirit during the Incarnation being our model of spirituality.

Communion With God – John Owen. Owen unpacks the distinctive offices of the three Persons, written to aid devotional communion with each Person.

 Mere Christianity – C.S. Lewis. In the later chapters, Lewis seeks to explain trinitarianism, perhaps coming closer than any other to supplying a helpful analogy.

 Making Sense of the Trinity – Millard Erickson. A short, layman’s guide to understanding the doctrine. Unfortunately, Erickson is a believer in the incarnational Sonship of Christ, and so needlessly denies eternal Sonship, and eternal generation.

The Hymns of Frederick Faber. Faber’s Romanism did not impede his ability to write superb verse, particularly on the Trinity.

The Psalms and Hymns of Isaac Watts – Doxologies. At the end of Watt’s collection are at least twenty hymns, of which Watts writes:
“I cannot persuade myself to put a full period to these Divine Hymns till I have addressed a special song of glory to God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Though the Latin name of it, Gloria Patri, be retained in our nation from the Roman church, and though there be some excesses of superstitious honor paid to the words of it, which may have wrought some unhappy prejudices in weaker Christians, yet I believe it still to he one of the noblest parts of Christian worship. The subject of it is the doctrine of the Trinity, which is that peculiar glory of the Divine nature that our Lord Jesus Christ has so clearly revealed unto men, and is so necessary to true Christianity. The action is praise, which is one of the most complete and exalted parts of heavenly worship. I have cast the song into a variety of forms, and have fitted it, by a plain version, or a larger paraphrase, to he sung either alone or at the conclusion of another hymn. I have added also a few Hosannahs, or ascriptions of salvation to Christ, in the same manner, and for the same end.”

 The Holy Trinity: In Scripture, History, Theology, and Worship – Robert Letham. I have not read this, but this is supposed to be one of the best contributions to trinitarian theology by an evangelical.

Product ImageEnlightenment and Alienation: An Essay Toward a Trinitarian Theology – Colin Gunton. Gunton was one of the twentieth century’s most renowned trinitarian theologians, and saw trinitarianism as an answer to much of the barrenness of modernity.