Sunday, 6 September 2009

Thoughts on Bruce A Ware's Book: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

This is a brief (158 pages) devotional introduction to the God who is revealed to us in the Bible and very helpful for anyone wishing to learn more on the foundational, unique and exclusive aspect of Christianity that is: The Trinity.

The applications he draws from the Trinity to model in everyday life, I think likewise, are mostly spot on. I do politely part company with Ware in a handful of places. This is not the time or place to go into those in detail. I flag them up for your consideration, should you decide to read it and I am more than willing for you to challenge me on any of my assertions. :-)

1. Ware gives the impression that Trinity is a wholly and solely New Testament and post New Testament idea. For whatever reason, and I don't doubt that there may be a good one, he makes no significant attempt to engage with the Old Testament on the subject. His scripture index is clear testimony to this. Though the Old Testament is over three times longer than the New, (and gives you all you need to know) it gets a third of the air time in his book.

2. He says [p57] that the Father can act unilaterally, but chooses to act through the Son. With verses like this one in mind, I am inclined to disagree. The Father can only reveal himself to a fallen creation through the Son. If he chose to act unilaterally, we'd be burnt up.

3. The "split-personality" Jesus makes a brief appearance in ch4. You know, the one who makes you say yes and no to questions like: Did Jesus know what people were thinking? The answer being In his human nature, no he didn't, but in his divine nature, yes he did. Personally, I find this approach both bizarre and misleading, and whilst there are things I don't understand, I'd rather simply say that Jesus has always and only ever done things in the power of the Spirit. To go beyond this is to go beyond the Bible.

4. Ware gives the impression that when Christians get to Heaven, the Holy Spirit will pack his bags and go back stage into retirement, (his job being done) leaving the Father and Son to enjoy on centre stage, the worship of creation. If the primary work of the Spirit is to testify to our adoption as children of God, then I see no reason why this would terminate at the end of this age, if anything his presence in the heart of the Christian will increase and come to climax as he is given free reign in our hearts to testify to the greatness of the Father and Son and joyfully brings us into the fullness that is sharing in the divine nature.

Simply put, the reason I part company with Ware on the points above is because he basically conceives of the Trinity like this:

Whereas I conceive of them like this.

Let me joyfully reiterate, Ware and I have more in common than not and this book is worth your time, but depending on which of these diagrams you go with has some not insignificant implications for your understanding of God; who they are and how they work.