Posted On May 1, 2017

The Triune God (New Studies in Dogmatics) by Fred Sanders

by | May 1, 2017 | Theology, Featured

Fred Sanders is a professor of Theology at the Torrey Honors Institute at Biola University in La Mirada, California. Fred Sanders has another book on the Trinity called The Deep Things of God.


In the opening of The Triune God, Fred Sanders lays out his argument for this book on pages 19-24. He aims to help Christians have a biblical understanding of the Triune God so as to help readers worship God properly.  To this end, in the opening chapter of The Triune God, Sanders asserts that theology should lead to praise. Right theology leads to good practice. As Christian’s consider the Doctrine of the Triune God, they should do so with a tone that indicates the weightiness of this doctrine. Sanders defines theology by saying, “Trinitarian Theology describes the connection between the economy of salvation and the eternal God who is its author and perfecter, its arche and telos (pg. 28).” Theology is to be done in light of who God has revealed himself to be in his Word. The author shows through this work how viewing theology as praise has properly and improperly affected the church throughout its history. Readers are able to appreciate that Sanders addresses the various impacts on church history throughout his work. When studying this Doctrine of the Triune God, Christians should grasp the weightiness of the doctrine so that they may understand how important it is to the life of the church.

In Chapter 2, Sanders discusses the depth of revelation. Christians can know God by his revelation to them in the Bible.  God has revealed himself throughout history. Sanders shows the Triunity of God throughout the Old Testament is progressive (pg. 40). God is progressively revealing himself to his people through His Word. In the New Testament, the Trinity is now fully revealed (pg. 43-45). The Word of God is given by God to reveal His character and will (pg. 47).

Sanders explores issues regarding Leonard Hodgson’s Doctrine of Trinity. Also considered is Maurice Wiles article “Some Reflections on the Origin of the Doctrine of the Trinity” and Karl Rahner’s The Trinity (pg. 51-56). Once again, Sanders emphasizes the revelation of God through His Word. Sanders finishes chapter 2 by briefly examining the importance of the Doctrine of Scripture.

In Chapter 3, Sanders shows that God communicates through missions. He says, “The Trinity was revealed when God the Father sent the Son and the Holy Spirit” (pg. 71). The Triune God progressively revealing himself throughout history correlates to the Intertriniatarian relationship within the Godhead. For example, Sanders states that the Father and Son do not speak in the Spirit (pg. 72). Each person in the Godhead is distinct. Because of this, Christian salvation is Trinitarian (pg. 75). One becomes a Christian because he/she is drawn by the Father, moved by the Spirit, to confess Christ as Lord and Savior. Scripture affirms that there is only one way to gain salvation and that is through the Son.

Salvation is known and can be identified by understanding Scripture (pg. 80). This assessment should be affirmed but also expanded by stating that there is only one correct interpretation of Scripture. Scripture is clear and is not only our guide, but authoritative and profitable for the faith and practice of God’s people.

The Doctrine of the Trinity is clear from the Scriptures (pg. 85) and is central to Christian Theology (pg. 81). Sanders also shows the faulty popish doctrines in Rome and the battle with Rome in regards to the Trinity. The Bible alone is where humanity can find the knowledge of God’s revealed personhood and will (pg. 90).

In Chapters 4 and 5, Sanders looks at the events of the Incarnation and Pentecost. In considering these important aspects of redemptive history, he shows how the Trinity is revealed within the storyline of Scripture. He writes about the Son revealed at the Incarnation and the Spirit revealed at Pentecost. The Son has always been the Son, and the Spirit has always been the Spirit but is also now revealed through these events. The Father sends the Son and the Spirit. Our God is a missional God. Later in these chapters, Sanders explores the distinctions in the Personhood of the Triune God. The Father is not the Son or Spirit, but God is One (pg. 126). Sanders in this chapter also addresses Sonship, the generation of the Son, and internal functions within the Trinity.

Sanders titles Chapter 6 Trinitarian Exegesis because Scripture bears witness to the Trinity. In doing so, the author looks at Gregory Nazianus reading of Matthew 28:19 (pg. 156). In this chapter, Sanders helps his readers with understanding what the church has taught about the Trinity throughout its history. His plea to readers is that we must be grounded in Scripture, which is why a sound biblical hermeneutic is essential! The author also desires that Christians be precise in language, so as to not lead others into heresy.

In Chapters 7 through 9, Sanders looks at the New Covenant in the New Testament. He shows how the Trinity is viewed from the New Covenant. He progresses from the New Testament to Creeds that attest to the work of the Triune God. Sanders writes about how the Old Testament looks forward to the coming of the Son and Spirit (pg. 209). In the midst of this discussion, it was of interest to me that he does not affirm Christophanies (pg. 224-226). In reflection, Sanders section on Christophonies is a clear and helpful summary of his perspective. He also covers other various topics about the Triune God such as reading the Psalms as Triune praise. Fred Sander’s finishes The Triune God by covering eleven theses on the revelation of the Trinity.

Worship the God of the Bible

There are not many works like Sanders The Triune God; he begins by showing readers that proper theology leads to praise. He walks through Scripture to affirm his positions regarding mystery of revelation, missions, and the special events of the Incarnation and Pentecost. He is crystal clear and argues well for his viewpoint throughout the book. The work also has a pleasant flow to it, which makes it an easier read.

Sanders work on the Trinity is tremendously helpful. It will aid readers in understanding readers understand how the Triune God has progressively revealed himself. One of the most significant aspects of reading this book is how the author desires readers to think about God biblically and properly worship him. Biblical conviction and thinking about God should lead God’s people to praise Him. For readers, thinking about God biblically is not only beneficial for individual study, but for the church as a whole.

Sanders clarity on matters such as Mission of the Triune God and Cristophonies is helpful for readers who find it difficult to think about such weighty subjects. Sanders makes these weighty topics easy to understand and at the end, turn and worship the Triune God. This is the primary goal of The Triune God; readers should leave this work with a desire to worship God biblically, for in doing so they will know and worship God in a manner that brings Him glory.

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