A Trinitarian Primer

A Trinitarian Primer

Neil Ormerod, St Paul’s, $12.95

The Doctrine of the Trinity is at once the most central of Christian beliefs and at the same time the least understood.

Sydney theologian Neil Ormerod has produced this useful little book (just 95 pages) to make accessible to the non-specialist this uniquely Christian understanding of God.

Whether by accident or design, there are three chapters and three appendices. The three chapters deal with: the Scriptural evidence; the Nicene Creed; and some analogies to help our minds to grasp the mystery as far as that is possible.

The three appendices deal briefly with the questions of the Trinity and gender, suggest some sermon notes for Trinity Sunday and contain a brief glossary of key terms.

Ormerod wrestles with the key biblical texts in the first chapter and demonstrates how the Christian thinkers of the first three centuries struggled to make sense of these, just as we might today.

The second chapter, on the Nicene Creed, demonstrates what the participants in the Councils of Nicea (325) and Constantinople (381) wrestled with and why the Creed was shaped as it is.

At a time when some want to discard the Creed (without being able to replace it with something which better makes sense of the evidence), we do well to remind ourselves of the important issues with which the Church struggled in the formative fourth century, and has been accepted by the Church ever since.

The third chapter recognises that we try to understand new and puzzling things in terms of what we already know. Ormerod explains some analogies suggested by theologians to try to clarify what the Church has (and has not) taught about the Trinity through the centuries.

What I particularly appreciated were the insights, drawn from Augustine, into the connection between understanding and love.

Also inspiring was Ormerod’s reminder of the gracious way we participate in the life of the Trinity when we participate in God’s mission to the world and imitate the love of the Holy Trinity in our own relationships.

Robert Bos

 

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