Trinity and Reality

Trinity and Reality

An Introduction to the Christian Faith

by Ralph Allan Smith
Publisher: Canon Press
Trade Paperback, 226 pages
Price: $18.00

Most Protestant Christians would affirm the doctrine of the Trinity, and affirm it as the foundational doctrine of the Christian faith. But many of those who affirm such statements don't understand them, and certainly can't see how such ideas have practical implications for every aspect of life.

But the Trinity, as baffling to the human imagination as it is, has massive significance for the life of every human being who has ever lived. Trinity & Reality is both an introduction to, and an apologetic for, the Christian faith using the doctrine of the Trinity as the lens through which all things are examined.

Author Ralph A. Smith demonstrates how the Trinitarian Christian worldview is the only one that aligns with reality, and is indeed the only worldview that adequately teaches us to live in that reality. Intended as an introduction for high school and college students, this book is accessible and readable even as it tackles immense and often difficult topics.

Chapter One introduces the basics of the Trinity itself. Smith moves then to an exploration of the Trinity as explanation of personhood, and proceeds to a discussion of the biblical idea of covenant and how that concept is exemplified in God's tripersonal nature. The rest of the chapters cover the Trinitarian view of history, revelation, the Church, eternity, and more.

Though these topics aren't easy, Smith manages to present them conversationally. At the same time, he never condescends to his readers, expecting them to keep up with him rather than the other way around. Drawing equally on his theological knowledge and his familiarity with history, literature, etc., he makes a compelling case for the centrality of the Trinity in Christian thought and life.

Due to his association with certain theological movements, Ralph Smith has garnered plenty of criticism for his views, particularly with regard to his covenantal theology which owes much to the Federal Vision theology of James Jordan. While claims that he's a tri-theist depend on immensely nuanced readings of his work and can't be substantiated by this book, glimpses of covenantal nomism (the idea that our covenant with God depends in part on our faithfulness to His law) can be found. This is a serious issue, but it isn't a major theme of this work.

Overall, Trinity & Reality is a very helpful introduction to the major doctrines, themes, and implications of Scripture, and one that is particularly well-suited for use in a group setting for discussion and teaching. It is essential that Christians see that no part of their faith is isolated from any other, and Smith does an admirable job of showing just that.

Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he's a husband and father who loves church, good food, and weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here.
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Exodus Rating:
FLAWS: Shades of covenantal nomism
Summary: A robust defense of the Trinitarian worldview, and how it alone allows us to see and understand the world as it truly is.

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