BOOK REVIEW: “THE TRINITY AND HUMAN PERSONALITY,” AUTHOR JOHN TAL MURPHREE, BY KIANG P LEE

Greetings Friends!

In this post I would like to recommend a book to you my readers. The book is called, “The Trinity And Human Personality,” by John Tal Murphree. If you are interested in a book about the Christian belief in the Trinity, this is a must read. I will quote from Murphree’s introduction,

“Most of the Christian church historically has embraced the doctrine of the Trinity, though often attempting to conceal embarrassment over what appears to be an irrational creed. In the church today, many thoughtful persons concur with philosopher Emmanual Kant that the tenet has no practical value.

“It is my conviction that the central and necessary place of the Trinity of all of life has not been adequately shown. This volume is intended to help rectify this deficiency.”

Book Cover

Of course most of my readers have known by now how I have attempted to do just that – the best I know how at explaining the Trinity – in my writings in this blog site: Bulamanriver, The Miracle of Triune Living. You may read my last installment as a sampling, titled, “Love – The Answer to Evil in This World.” I have coined a term you may not have read anywhere else like, “Triune Life,” to help make sense of the Trinity in practicable terms to my readers. There is no human analogy we can use to liken a God who is Trinitarian. They will always remain analogous and inadequate for a God who is Triune and greater than our minds can satisfactorily explain.

Be that as it may, God has not left Himself totally incomprehensible nor inapprehensible. That would be self-defeating for we were created in God’s Triune image so we can come to know and have a meaningful and personal relationship with Him. The main ingredient which explains His Oneness in His Tri-personal Being is His Love. “God IS Love!” (1 John 4:8). Without Love the Trinity would be just a shell. God is not made of Love, He IS Love! God is uncreated, while everything in the spirit and material world was created. He had no beginning of days nor end. He has been and will always be Love and Trinitarian from eternity into everlasting.

For me, one of the more poignant portion of Murphree’s book is his description of the Trinity where each Person “occupies” the others’ personalities and hence their Oneness. And in this we witness the manifestation of God’s unifying nature – Love! This occupation explains how Love works and brings about a relational Oneness which we can share with the Triune God in Christ. We enter the life of the Trinity in and through Christ, there’s no other way. Hence Paul wrote, “For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that He might be the firstborn (into the Trinity) among many brothers and sisters” (Rom.8:29, my emphasis). Each of the three Persons of the Trinity becomes “home” for the other two. So do we when we enter and live the “Triune Life” in Christ. (1 Cor.6:19) As each inhabits the others, each is host and guest to the other in this Triune lifestyle and existence. It is so reciprocal that each one feels more at home with the others’ personalities than His own. The Trinitarian Person, which we have become through and in Christ, do not exist in isolation; they live in and through one another, and their personalities become relationally Love. Each has intimate access to the others’ deepest thoughts and feelings always. Of course, I do not mean this in a human way because man does not know how to live like this way unless Jesus unifies him to it. God is Spirit. God is three Persons in One substance (Greek, homoousios – “of one substance”). The substance of their nature is Love. Love makes the act of One the act of all Three, making them singular and unified. Love makes their oneness a reality.

When Jesus prayed to the Father, “Not My will, but Yours be done,” it was the only way Jesus could have responded because He’s divine substance is Love. Of course, Jesus was not locked into Love that He had no choice in the matter. He was free to choose like any human would. Where there is Love, there must of necessity be freedom. Love and freedom are opposite sides of God’s nature. Paul makes this clear, “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (2 Cor.3:17). Jesus said this about His crucifixion, “No one can take my life from Me. I sacrifice it voluntarily (freely). For I have the authority to lay it down when I want to and also to take it up again (freedom). For this is what My Father has commanded” (John 10:18). Paul said, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery” (Gal.5:1). In Jesus’ freedom He chose Love, so do we.

They cannot act solitarily but inclusively and collaboratively in freedom – always. One of the reasons humans find the Trinity hard to grasp is because they have never known any other way but the “solitary” self-centered mode of thinking and living, which is diametrically opposed to the free collective “Triune Life.” Man have been living this ‘solitary’ self-centered way since Adam’s fall. So it will take a little bit of time and experience to have the “Triune Life” sink into the human spirit and consciousness. Man has never seen this Triune way of life manifested in human experience until Jesus came on the scene and revealed the Father and the Spirit more than two thousand years ago. His miracle-working and sacrificial life was a summary of this Trinitarian way. Only One who emanates from the Trinity could live “Triune Life” and thus impart it to man, and that was Jesus’ mission given Him by the Father.

File:Holy Trinity Icon.jpg

 Rublev’s Famous Icon of The Trinity (Wiki Commons)

Hence we read Jesus’ declaration of this “Triune Life” of occupation: “Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in Me? The words I say to you I do not speak on My own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in Me, who is doing His work” (John 14:10). We become one with the Father through our union with Jesus who took our humanity in Himself and glorified it in the Trinity through His life, crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension. Note how Jesus prayed to the Father for His followers in this triune vein, “I have given them the glory You gave Me—the glorious unity of Being One, as We are— I in them and You in Me, all being perfected into One” (John 17:22-23). It’s a life that’s never lived solitarily, but collaboratively, each inhabiting the other as host and guests in Loving relationship. Man will only live to his detriment without this shared “Triune Life.”

The power which makes this kind of living possible is God’s divine Love.”God is Love,” and God is Freedom. (1 John 4:8; 2 Cor.3:17) Personally, I believe that much of the dilemma of human existence as it pertains to our origin and destiny, of the joys and sufferings of human reality, owes in no small part to how we take up God’s divine Triune image in the sense of living it from day to day. I encourage you to obtain a copy of Murphree’s book from an online bookstore.

It is my hope this book will expand on your understanding about belief in the Trinity, and that you will find it most instructive and edifying as it has been for me.

I should mention that my book, “Bulamanriver – The Miracle of Triune Living” (see cover below) is also about the Trinity and God’s work of Love in the world today. It’s available on Amazon and other online bookstores.

Book Cover

Until we meet again in my next post, may the blessings of the God who ceaselessly expresses Himself in His dependable Triune Love, be with you always. May the Spirit enliven your spirit and make all things concerning you possible as you live the Triune Life as a Bulamanriver.*  Be strong in the Lord’s joy.

Kiang,  

Bulamanriver” is the metaphor describing the union of man with the Love of the Triune God flowing in humans, making possible the “Triune Life” – the source of the miraculous life in man. To read the many facets of life of the Bulamanriver, go to my website www.bulamanriver.com where you can order a copy of my Book.

All scriptures are taken from the NIV Version 2011, unless stated otherwise.

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