I first came across Michael Reeves at the Banner Ministers' Conference earlier this year. His addresses on Mission and the Trinity and Augustine were among the highlights of the event. In fact, I was so impressed that I was moved to write up my conference reports as a kind of pastiche of Augustine's Confessions. That's my excuse, anyway. Since hearing him at Banner I had been eager to to read one of his titles. Friends recommended The Good God and so I downloaded a copy. Still seems strange to speak of 'downloading' a book, but I'm getting a dab hand at this Kindle lark and e-reading doesn't detract from my pleasure of getting stuck into a work, certainly not this one, which I enjoyed immensely.
They say you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, but you should be able to judge a book by its title. Reeves' basic thesis is that God is good precisely because his is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. A monopersonal God could not by definition overflow with life and goodness. Before the creation of the universe, he would have no one to whom he could be good. However, the God who has revealed himself in Holy Scripture is not a divine loner. In the one God there are three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. From eternity the Father has overflowed with life and goodness to the Son, and the Father and Son to the Holy Spirit. For the triune God, loving communicative action is not contingent upon his creating the world, it is at the very heart of what it means for him to be God.
In fact, there is little reason to believe that a monopersonal God would have created the universe. Why would he, unless it was because he needed company, or simply because he wanted people to act as his minions. On the other hand, Reeves cites the Puritan theologian, Richard Sibbes to show that it makes perfect sense for a tripersonal God to communicate his goodness by creating the world,
If God had not a communicative, spreading goodness, he would never have created the world. The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost were happy in themselves, and enjoyed one another before the world was. Apart from the fact that God delights to communicate and spread his goodness, there had never been a creation or redemption. (Location 592).
In salvation, the triune God not only forgives his rebellious human creatures, he brings them into fellowship with himself that they might share in the love that the Father has for his Son by the presence of his Spirit in their hearts. Our calling is not to hunker down and grimly serve our divine Master, but to enjoy and delight in the triune God of the Gospel. We become what we worship. Those who worship Father, Son and Holy Spirit will overflow with life and goodness towards his people in fellowship and towards the world in mission.
Some works on the Trinity are dryly technical and do little to stir the soul to worship and adore the God of whom they speak. As his subtitle indicates, Reeves wants his readers to enjoy Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The tone of the work is suffused with wonder and praise. The author's style is vibrant and fast paced, with a touch of gentle humour here and there, but his lightness of touch is placed at the service of real theological depth. Reeves' work is steeped in Scripture, while mindful of the rich theological heritage of the church. He draws on a range of theologians from across the gamut of church history to give added colour to his exploration of the good God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
This is not a book simply for Ministers and theological students. The Good God is a fine example of theology for everybody. And that means you too, dear reader. If you've got one of those newfangled e-readers, why not download a copy now?
Mike Reeves has recently joined the faculty as 'Theologian-at-Large' at WEST.