Like Father, Like Son | Tom Smail

The cover of Smail's Like Father, Like SonWe believe that God is Trinity: Father, Son and Spirit. Three persons, one deity. With that in mind, what does it mean to be created in that image? That is the question that Smail tackles in this stimulating book.

Here’s Smail’s argument in a nutshell:

To be authentically human is to reflect in our relationships with one another the initiating love of God the Father, the responsive love of God the Son, and the creative love of God the Spirit, in interpenetration the one with the other. (240)

The persons of the Trinity, while all one deity, have various roles. The Father initiates love, and the Son responds to that love with free obedience. We image those roles when we, like the Father, take the initiative to love each other. We image those roles when we, like the Son, choose to respond in obedient love.

While Smail makes a good case for Father and Son, his role for the Spirit felt forced. To the Spirit he assigns divine creativity which we, in turn, mirror.

Smail, like any good theologian, is well versed in the debates of past theologians. He takes time to carefully set his understanding of Trinity in the Eastern tradition. Augustine doesn’t cut it—he relies on the Eastern idea of perichoresis (that Father, Son, and Spirit live in interpenetration with each other) to ground his thoughts on imago dei.

This wonderfully insightful book had me pausing on almost every page to come to grips with the ramifications of his argument. He presents a thoroughly biblical understanding of just want it means for us to reflect the image of the Trinity.

—Tom Smail, Like Father, Like Son: The Trinity Imaged in Our Humanity (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2005).

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