What led you to write Knowing and the Trinity? How did you become interested in exploring the bible’s teaching on this topic?
The origins for the book go back quite a while. For decades John Frame and I have been using triads of perspectives. We think that having more than one perspective on a subject can help to enhance our knowledge of the subject. So, for example, building on the work of Cornelius Van Til, John Frame introduced three perspectives on ethics: the normative perspective, the situational perspective, and the existential perspective. According to a Christian view, the normative perspective focuses on the standard for ethics, which is the character of God, as expressed in his word and law. The situational perspective focuses on the goal, which is the glory of God (1 Cor. 10:31). The existential perspective focuses on motives. The primary motive is love. These three perspectives, when rightly used, are in harmony with each other, and using more than one helps us to deepen our appreciation and understanding of God’s will for our lives.
It should be noted that this kind of use of perspective takes place within a Christian worldview. We rely on the fact that God is true and is the source for human knowledge, through his revelation.
Frame and I have noticed similarities between the triads of perspectives on the one hand and the Trinitarian character of God on the other hand. Some people have asked us for a fuller explanation of how the triads reflect the Trinitarian character of God. Because God is mysterious, and the Trinity is mysterious, I was apprehensive about writing on the subject of the Trinity. I did not want to produce something that would appear to dissolve the mystery of the Trinity, or something that would claim to know more than God has given us to know. But as people continued to ask, I decided to write, in order to help clear up people’s understandings of these triads of perspectives.
What are the main things you learned from researching and writing this book?
I grew in admiring the greatness and depth in who God is. And I think I grew in appreciating that there is a kind of order in the triads, so that they relate to each other mysteriously, as well as reflecting the Trinitarian character of God.
What are some important truths you would like readers to remember from reading Knowing and the Trinity?
Here are some truths that come to mind.
- God is one God in three persons. This is the mystery of the Trinity.
- Specific texts in the Bible, as well as the larger contexts, confirm the truth of the Trinity.
- The Trinity is unique. There is no “model” or “picture” in the world that explains how God can be both one and three.
- In the Bible, God uses three main analogies in showing us the relations of the three persons to each other. (1) In the analogy with communication, God the Father speaks the Word (God the Son) by the breath of the Holy Spirit. (2) In the analogy with a family, God the Father has a father-son relation to God the Son, and expresses that relation in infinite love by the gift of the Holy Spirit. (3) In the analogy with reflections, God the Son is the eternal image of God the Father, through the communion of the Holy Spirit.
- God shows himself in the world in a manner that reflects his Trinitarian character.
- God’s redemption reflects his Trinitarian character.
- The availability of multiple perspectives to human beings reflects God’s character.
- The inner harmony among various biblical teachings about God is due to the fact that God is in harmony with himself, through the harmony among the persons of the Trinity. The harmony among the persons is reflected in the harmony of God’s acts in the world, and the ways in which he manifests his glory in the world.
- The metaphysics of unbelieving philosophy is inadequate, because it is not based on the Trinity, which the foundation and source for the whole created world.
- Holding robustly to the mystery of the Trinity helps in providing insight into long-standing questions that cannot be solved by unbelieving philosophy.