God the Trinity
Biographical Sketch of the Author
Malcom B. Yarnell III is the Director for the Center of Theological Research and Professor of Systematic Theology at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. His education includes: “Doctor of Philosophy, Oxford University, 2000; Master of Theology, Duke University, 1996; Master of Divinity with Biblical Languages, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, 1990; Bachelor of Science, Finance, Summa Cum laude, Louisiana State University in Shreveport, 1986.” He is a contributor to several journals and editor of the Southwestern Journal of Theology. He lives with his wife Karen Annette Search Yarnell and their children in Fort Worth, Texas.1
Summary of the Contents
In writing this book Dr. Yarnell set out to answer two questions: “Is the doctrine that God is trinity a biblical doctrine? Is it, moreover, a doctrine that is necessary to believe?”2 Dr. Yarnell said that evangelical confessions center on the Bible and the Trinity, but there has been little work done to evaluate what the Bible actually says about the Trinity.3 Therefore, he set out to answer these two questions posed by engaging with eight biblical texts.
The first Matthew 28:19, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.” Yarnell said that this text is the clearest reference in the Bible for the Trinity. The argument that Yarnell makes in this book, through these eight texts is that “God the Trinity is revealed through word and deed in the Bible.”4 Using this text, the Council of Antioch in AD 314 argued for three persons; the Arians concluded that different names indicate different substances, but Athanasius disagreed on the bases that baptism is a single act done under a single divine agency. He thus referred to Ephesians 4:5, “one Lord, one faith, one baptism.”5
The second text of scripture is 2 Corinthians 13:14, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all.” Yarnell said that “the grace of God” originates from the Father and comes to humanity through the Son as a substitute. “The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are each identified with the movement of grace.” In this text, we see the grace of God in the work of the persons of the Trinity.6
The third text is Deuteronomy 6:4-7a, “Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons.” Yarnell said, “Deuteronomy literally means ‘second law’ and reveals the contours of the covenantal law between God and Israel.”7 This passage Jesus considered to be the first and greatest commandment; therefore, it is the link between Christianity and Judaism and is the center of Deuteronomic theology which is the center of Old testament theology. This text is import for the Christian to understand who God is and how He should be worshiped. The Lord is God and should be worshiped as one.8
The fourth text is John 1:18, “No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.” This is one of my favorite passages in scripture, because like Yarnell says in this chapter, it proclaims Jesus as God interpreting God.9
The fifth is John 16:14-15, “He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said that He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you.” Hear Christ claims that whatever is God’s is His, not only that, but the Spirit has the authority to take from what is God’s. Yarnell further explains the Trinity from the perspective of the entire Gospel of John in this chapter.
The sixth is John 17:21-22, “that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me. The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one.” It is the desire of the Son for the church to have the same unity as the Father and Son. In this chapter Yarnell explains the use of metaphors in John’s gospel to explain the Trinity.10
The seventh is Ephesians 1:9-10, “He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth.” Darnell says that this text shows the Trinity through economy.11
The eight is Revelation 5:6, “And I saw between the throne (with the four living creatures) and the elders a Lamb standing, as if slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God, sent out into all the earth.” Darnell said, “The eschatological genre becomes important for theology proper when it is taken into account that the eternal God’s relation to time is not only that of One who stands over the past in creation and the present in providence but of One ‘who is to come’ (Rev 1:4).12
I enjoyed this book, through reading it and the explanations that Yarnell gives of these eight passages of scripture, I have come to a better understanding of the Triune God. These eight passages and the Biblical books that they come from both explain the Trinity in word and deed. Most talk of the Trinity that I have heard up to this point has been historical. Yarnell does speak at times historically, but in every case, he does so to explain how biblically believers in the past came to understand the Trinity as one substance in three Divine persons.
Through the Shema in Deuteronomy chapter six Yarnell showed that God is to be worshipped as one. In Matthew 28 we come to understand God as three persons, yet having one name. Then in the other passages we see that God works as one in three Divine persons. I would recommend this book to anyone serious about knowing and worshipping the Triune God; the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.