9780814659908For the Transforming Theology Theo-Blogger Consortium, I’ve been given the privilege of reading Joseph A. Bracken’s God: Three Who Are One, part of the Engaging Theology series from Liturgical Press.

Bracken invites readers to explore the relevance of the doctrine of God for dialogue between Christian men and women, between Christianity and other religions, and between religion and science.

In a recent post on the Transforming Theology blog, he points out the necessity of a dialectic relationship between systematic theology and spirituality. This book represents this approach put into practice.

I’ll be reviewing God in nine short posts, one for each chapter. The book is divided into two parts: the first four chapters take us through the development of trinitarian doctrine, and the last five engage recent critical perspectives. Chapter 1 surveys the first four centuries of trinitarian thought. Origen, Tertullian, Arius, and the Council of Nicaea demonstrate the tension already in place between subordinationism (and implicit tritheism) and modalism/adoptionism.

The real strength of this book comes at the end of each chapter when Bracken offers reflections on how these matters are relevant for contemporary Christians. He points out how important these debates on the trinity were for early Christians, and not just for theologians.

Whether in cafes over something to drink or at the marketplace in search of food for dinner, Christians got into heated arguments over theological issues.

By contrast, today’s ‘people in the pews’ largely ignore the theological issues related to the Three Who Are One. How do we give them permission to care? How do we get our Christian friends out of the pews and into pubs to engage in lively discussions about how the doctrine of the trinity relates to our spiritual formation?

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