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Book Review – Reordering the Trinity


Book Review – Reordering the Trinity

When I first saw the title of Rodrick Durst’s new book, Reordering the Trinity, I wasn’t sure if I would be a fan. The Trinity isn’t something you mess with. After all, it’s been an established part of Christian doctrine for a very long time. However, at the same time I recognized that the publisher (Kregel Academic) isn’t prone to wander into Trinitarian error. I also recognized that though the traditional formulation of the trinity isn’t the only formulation found in scripture and as far as I know, there hasn’t been much work done on the significance (if any) to the various formulations. This intrigued me.

When I first received the book in the mail I flipped through the pages to get a general feel for how it is structured. This revealed that the book is divided into three parts: Part 1 considers four key questions (the contemporary context Trinitarian theology, the Trinitarian matrix in the New Testament, the tridactic presence in the Old Testament, and the Trinity in tradition). Part two examines the scriptural context of the various Trinitarian formulations and their significance, and part three is devoted practical application of the various Trinitarian formulas within the context of everyday worship, life, and ministry. This is followed by five very useful appendices.

This cursory glance at the structure of the book was enough to convince me that this is my kind of book. I was ready for the adventure to begin!

In case it isn’t yet clear, Reordering the Trinity is a book that seeks to examine how scripture speaks of the Trinity. I assume that we are all familiar with the traditional formulation of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This is, for the most part what most Christians think of when they think of the Trinitarian formula. However, what I didn’t know was that, of the 75 examples of tridactic patterns, this is only used 18 times. It is the most frequent to be sure, but only represents 24% of the instances. The formula Son-Spirit-Father is the second most frequent with 20% of the occurrences (15 times) and Son-Father-Spirit is right behind that with 19% (used 14 times). The remaining three formulations aren’t insignificant representing 15%, 12% and 10% of the tridactic formulations.

This in itself is interesting data . . . but not much more than that. What Durst does with the data however is very profound. Taking the data on each instance, Durst determines the context in which each tridactic pattern is found and begins to contextualize them so that clear pattern begin to emerge. For instance, the core theme for the traditional order of Father-Son-Spirit is missional emphasizing being sent, while the core theme of the Spirit-Son-Father order is Ecclesial and emphasizes oneness/giftedness or unity/diversity. In fact, his findings are so obvious when reading the passages that it makes me wonder how I have missed it all these years. This doesn’t necessarily change how I read scripture because the context remains the same despite having a deeper understanding of the various tridactic formulations. However, what it does change is how I think about God in the various life-contexts in which I find myself. This is valuable for me to understand because it changes how I pray to God and speak of God in differing situations.

Reordering the Trinity is a book that just about anyone will find valuable. It is an academic book so those who are not used to reading academic material may struggle to follow the book from cover to cover. However, Durst is a wonderful communicator and did a wonderful job holding my attention throughout the book. The book may be a bit advanced to use with a homeschooling curriculum but not impossible for some more advanced readers to appreciate. Undergraduate and graduate students both will almost certainly enjoy and appreciate the work that Durst has put into producing this book. It is one that will stay n my shelf for years and will most certainly find it’s way into my children’s reading list in their later homeschooling years. Parents and pastors will appreciate reading this book and using the knowledge gained in doing so to help their children/ congregation understand the role of Trinitarian theology in their daily lives.

If you would like to order a copy of Reordering the Trinity you can find it on Amazon by following this link.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Kregel Academic in exchange for an online review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

About the Author

durstRodrick K. Durst (PhD, Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary) is professor of historical theology at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary in Mill Valley, California. Durst previously served as a pastor in California for 13 years.






To view a video of Dr. Durst giving a short explanation of the contents of this book you can watch this video on YouTube

6 thoughts on “Book Review – Reordering the Trinity

  1. Karl

    This topic has always been of interest to me. I remember as a young boy sitting in my grandmother’s window sill. My grandmother raised me after my parents passed and my favorite past time was to sit in the window reading scripture and watching the garden critters. This particular memory was when I got to the end of 2 Corinthians and noticed that Paul used a Trinitarian summary but it was all mixed up. I went to my grandmother and told her that Paul got the order wrong. To this she sternly informed me that whenever there is a conflict between what I believe a day what scripture says, scripture is the winner. That stuck with me my whole life and especially as I grappled with Trinitarian doctrine. This sounds like my kind of book!

  2. Lenette

    Wow. Been going to mass my whole life and don’t remember ever hearing anything but Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. How does that happen? Can you list some places where the others are used?

  3. Britainia Fowler

    Interesting. To be honest I’m a little hesitant to get too excited before reading this book. On the surface it reminds me of the 1990s when everyone was excited about the names of God. If you wanted something material you HAD to pray to Jehovah Jireh who is the God who provides. If you were ill you HAD to pray to Jehovah Rapha who is the God who heals. In times of spiritual warfare you HAD to pray to Jehovah Nissi to raise His banner over you in battle. If you neglected to pray the right name you were in danger of misusing God’s name or of not having enough faith to command blessings. I’m not saying this is the same thing, but there is a danger of over spiritilualizing these things so that they become mediators of God’s power. Of course this was just in select circles like the prosperity preachers and the “you are only super spiritual if you act like a Jew” kind of crowd but the danger exists for this to be abused like crazy.

    • Britainia, that’s a good observation about the names of God and how it was misapplied. This book doesn’t even begin to go down that path. Rather, than using a Trinitarian formulation as an encantation the author focuses on how it enriches our understanding of God in various applications.

  4. Ryan Smith

    This looks like an excellent resource Aaron. Thanks for posting the review. – Ryan

  5. J.C. Travino

    Interesting analysis. To be honest I don’t give this enough thought. I hardly see the Trinity when I read passages alluding to it. I just read past it knowing it is speaking of God but missing any Trinitarian significance.

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