The hard spade work of theological distinctions is a job that is left undone and is unenviable. More and more it is perceived as needless, or even too cumbersome for modern man. Yet, being precise theologians and teachers of Scripture means that we must be called upon too often say “this not that”. Many Christians have become painfully unaware of how important the doctrine of the Trinity is, and we have a latent modalism here in the Western Church.
Letham’s Holy Trinity is a helpful work outlining the history of the theological development of our articulation of the triune nature of God. It is obviously far from complete as any book on God’s nature and character will be inadequate. However, he traces how the early Church Fathers, and then East & West endeavored to articulate the mystery of the God-head.
This is spade work, and will require attentiveness to follow the arguments, and the heresies which were being addressed in the different formulations. At times Letham is noncommittal to the differing views, but at other times he is incredibly salient in how important believing in and defending the doctrine of the Trinity is. This is especially true in his assessment that modern Western Christians are hemmed in on both sides with trinitarian heresies. On the one hand is the Islamic worldview of a harsh monotheism; on the other postmodernism’s pantheistic quagmire. We must not get lazy theologically when faced with such clear falsehoods aggressively being advanced.