There were two reasons I picked up this book. One, I am trying to read about the Trinity as part of my annual reading goals. Two, I am reading it because Miroslov Volf’s name is on it. I have been hearing about Volf for a while and just have not had a chance to read him.
Volf is a professor at Yale and is best known for his work in the areas of social Trinity and forgiveness (Exclusion and Embrace, The End of Memory and the less academic Free of Charge). He also has controversial book on Christian response to Islam (Allah) and a well reviewed book on Christianity and the Common Good (Public Faith).
What is interesting to me about Volf is that he is academically responding to real issues around him. Volf was born and raised in what is now Croatia. He studied in Germany under Jürgen Moltmann and eventually came to the US to teach at Fuller until moving to Yale in 1998.
Volf is known for his work on the social trinity and his trinitarian work drove his early study. But after the wars in Serbia and Croatia he was starting thinking about the trinity in regard to forgiveness and God’s ‘solidarity with the victim’. At least in part he was working through how God could forgive war crimes and atrocities that occur during war. This is not abstracted theology of the trinity but a practical theology of the trinity based on the real pain of war. He expanded this in The End of Memory where he focuses on truth-telling as a means of bring about forgiveness and reconciliation. He was actually finishing up an address to the UN about these ideas as the first plane hit the World Trade Center on 9/11.
The occasion for this book is the 80th birthday of Volf’s mentor Jürgen Moltmann. In the book 18 authors have submitted essays about the implications of the Trinity on other areas. Volf talks about how the Trinity impacts the concept of giving. Douglas Meeks talks about the Trinity’s implications on the concept of property and economics. Other authors talk about church unity, theology of religions, gender, justice, eschatology, worship and much more.
I am not theologically proficient enough to really comment on the content of the books. There are parts that I had a hard time comprehending, let alone trying to evaluate. But I did get a glimpse of what I have been looking for in some of the other Trinity books that I have been reading this year. These essays are taking seriously the work on the social trinity that I have been interested in. This is a start, and I really would love to read some books in community on the Trinity to talk through some of these issues. I am not smart enough to read on my own and ask enough of the right questions. I am only a single person.
I would not start your reading on the Trinity in this book. It is quite academic, but it does have a wide variety of perspectives and that is useful as an introduction. I picked it up while it was briefly on sale in kindle format.
- Deep Things of God: How The Trinity Changes Everything by Fred Sanders (bookwi.se)
- Delighting in the Trinity (challies.com)
- Delighting in the Trinity: An Introduction to the Christian Faith by Michael Reeves (bookwi.se)