My Favorite Books

The Walking Drum
Ender's Game
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
The Curse of Chalion
The Name of the Wind
Chronicles of the Black Company
The Faded Sun Trilogy
The Tar-Aiym Krang

Sunday, July 31, 2022

Review: Trinitarian Dogmatics: Exploring the Grammar of the Christian Doctrine of God

Trinitarian Dogmatics: Exploring the Grammar of the Christian Doctrine of God Trinitarian Dogmatics: Exploring the Grammar of the Christian Doctrine of God by D Glenn Jr Butner

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

As part of my formation as a Deacon, I have been reading a lot of text on Christology and the Trinity; and for most of them I finish more confused about the concept then when I started. A major contributor to this is the tendency of the authors you use uncommon terminology (from metaphysics and philosophy) as well as using common terms with the primary understanding/attributes redefined and/or stripped away entirely (eg. persons, begotten, processions, et al). By itself, that would not be as much of a problem if they 1) better defined with concepts with specific examples and 2) didn’t over use the term with slightly different nuances each time. This book appears to fix these short comings (at least for me), presenting and defending the dogmatic theology of the Trinity that would be easily understood by the average joe sitting in the pew (aka me). Welcome to my favorites bookshelf (I intend to come back to this book a lot in the future).

The book is organized into an Introduction with eight (8) chapters and a glossary (something most books mysteriously failed to include). Each chapter roughly follows the same format … an introduction to the chapter topic, a look at the relevant scriptures, a summary of the [development of the ]tradition and history, an examination of the dogma and finally a section details recommended “Further Reading.” Each chapter was written with very accessible language and the metaphysic terms were introduced slowly (in comparison to other texts) after being well explained and illustrated with examples (the entire first chapter is dedicated to just one term: consubstantiation). If you are even confused about a term when it appears again, you can flip back to the Glossary to refresh your recollection. Honestly, this book should get 5* just for organization and presentation.

Throughout the book, the author reminds us that human language and reason are insufficient to truly understand the nature of God, so that it is necessary to approach what limited understanding we do have from several directions … starting with what has been revealed and using reason to discover what is (cataphatic) and is not (apophatic) true. What is especially helpful here is that the author walks you through the reasoning of past [and present] theologians, pointing out the strengths (what they we trying to explain) and weaknesses (where they go to far) of each before introducing the [more balanced] dogmatic view. Why was this helpful? Because in reading previous books and the subject, I found myself drifting into the same discourse without the benefit of correction or explanation on why that would not work as I understand it. In the end, this is still a difficult and confusing topic that I will continue to exploring and refine, but this book is coming with me on the journey.

Chapter 1: Consubstantiality
Chapter 2: Processions and Personal Properties
Chapter 3: Simplicity
Chapter 4: Persons and Relations
Chapter 5: Perichoresis
Chapter 6: Missions
Chapter 7: Inseparable Operations
Chapter 8: Communion

I was given this free advance review copy (ARC) ebook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

#TrinitarianDogmatics #NetGalley

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My Ratings Explained ...

  • [ ***** ] Amazing Read - Perfect story, exciting, engrossing, well developed complex characters, solid plot with few to no holes, descriptive environments and place settings, great mystery elements, realistic dialogue, believable reactions and behaviors; a favorite that I can re-read many times.
  • [ **** ] Great Read - Highly entertaining and enjoyable, exciting storyline, well developed characters and settings, a few discrepancies but nothing that can’t be overlooked. Some aspect of the story was new/refreshing to me and/or intriguing. Recommended for everyone.
  • [ *** ] Good Read - Solid story with a 'good' ending, or has some other redeeming feature. Limited character development and/or over reliance on tropes. Noticeable discrepancies in world building and/or dialog/behavior that were distracting. I connected enough with the characters/world to read the entire series. Most of the books I read for fun are here. Recommended for fans of the genre.
  • [ ** ] Okay Read - Suitable for a brief, afternoon escape … flat or shallow characters with little to no development. Over the top character dialog and/or behavior. Poor world building with significant issues and/or mistakes indicating poor research. Excessive use of trivial detail, info dumps and/or pontification. Any issues with the story/characters are offset by some other aspect that I enjoyed. Not very memorable. May only appeal to a niche group of readers. Recommended for some (YMMV).
  • [ * ] Bad Read - Awkward and/or confusing writing style. Poor world building and/or unbelievable (or unlikeable) characters. Victimization, gaslighting, blatant abuse, unnecessary violence, child endangerment, or any other highly objectionable behaviors by Main characters. I didn't connect with the story at all; significant aspects of this story irritated me enough that I struggled to finished it. Series was abandoned. Not recommended.