Many Christians speak of God. A large number of those Christians would affirm that God is Trinity: one being, three persons. Some have learned this from creeds and catechisms, others from hymns. Very few, I suspect, have given sustained thought to what it means that God is Father, Son, and Spirit. This is what C. Baxter Kruger delivers in The Great Dance.
Kruger uses the metaphor of dancing (perhaps picked up from C. S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity?) to describe the life of Father, Son and Spirit. This life is woven through creation like a great river. The goal of God is to draw everyone into this river, this dance.
I used the word “everyone” on purpose. Kruger has left Calvinism with is doctrine of limited atonement (or more generously stated, “definite atonement” or “particular redemption”) behind. He preaches the good news of the great dance like an evangelist:
The Father himself set his love upon you before the foundation of the world and predestined you to be adopted into the very Trinitarian life of God. And his own beloved Son, Jesus Christ, has come and accomplished his Father’s dreams for you and the human race. And even now the Holy Spirit is bearing witness with your spirit that this is the truth. (from his essay, “Why I Left Calvinism Behind“)
A fully realized doctrine of the Trinity demands a careful understanding of Jesus’ Incarnation, something which Kruger provides with clarity and passion. Drawing on the work of the Torrance brothers, he explains how the Incarnation was the work of God hammering our sin-gnarled humanity back into its original shape. This work began at birth and continued to and including his obedient death.
Kruger does well to sidestep ontological arguments (homooousia, anyone?) and stresses a relational understanding of the Trinity. This is immensely helpful for modern readers. If God chose to reveal himself in relational terms (Father-Son), then why would we want to privilege Greek philosophical categories foreign to scripture?
My only difficulty with this book was the way Kruger handled suffering, a topic reserved for the final chapter. Suffering is the result of believing the lie of the enemy and divorcing yourself from the great dance. While this is true in part, surely there’s more to it than that. Kruger speaks of the “philanthropy of the Triune God” (33)—that joy that runs through ordinary life which we experience in motherhood and fatherhood, gardening and cookouts, carpentry and friendships. How do we explain the lives of people who suffer deeply and constantly precisely for their participation in the great dance? The Apostle Paul spoke about joy in suffering, rejoicing in trials.
That caveat aside, The Great Dance is a rare book that makes deep theological insight readable and enjoyable. The Great Dance is something any Christian could read to deepen their faith in the triune God.
—C. Baxter Kruger, The Great Dance: The Christian Vision Revisited (Victoria, BC: Regent College Publishing, 2000).