Life in the Trinity: An Introduction to Theology with the Help of the Church Fathers, By Donald Fairbairn

Life in the Trinity

An Introduction to Theology with the Help of the Church Fathers

by Donald Fairbairn

Life in the Trinity
  • Length: 248 pages
  • Dimensions: 6 × 9 in
  • Published: September 28, 2009
  • Imprint: IVP Academic
  • Item Code: 3873
  • ISBN: 9780830838738

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What can the early church contribute to theology today?

Although introductions to Christian theology often refer to its biblical foundations, seldom is much attention paid to the key insights the early church had into the nature of Christian faith and life. Donald Fairbairn takes us back to those biblical roots and to the central convictions of the early church, showing us what we have tended to overlook, especially in our understanding of God as Trinity, the person of Christ and the nature of our salvation as sharing in the Son's relationship to the Father. This book will prove useful to beginning theology students as well as advanced theologians who want to get at the heart of the Christian gospel.

"Donald Fairbairn's mastery of early Christian theology shines out of this wonderful introduction to the world of patristic theology for evangelical readers. It is more than a wise and trustworthy guide taking the reader along what are unfamiliar paths for many Western readers. It is also a work that wears its learning lightly, but amounts to nothing less than a sustained exposition of the majestic coherence of the early Christian doctrine of union with God. I recommend it most highly."

John Anthony McGuckin, Ane Marie and Bent Emil Nielsen Professor in Late Antique and Byzantine Christian History, Union Theological Seminary, and Professor of Byzantine Christian Studies, Columbia University

"Donald Fairbairn offers an engaging introduction to evangelical theology, as enriched and challenged by key patristic emphases. Given the recent expansion of interest in the church fathers in evangelical circles, this winsomely written, stimulating invitation to listen to and learn from the church fathers is both timely and welcome."

James R. Payton Jr., professor of history, Redeemer University College, and author of Light from the Christian East: An Introduction to the Orthodox Tradition

"This is the first book that teachers should assign to every beginning student of theology. It gives them not an explanation of individual doctrines, but a theological goal that is faithful to the very heart of the gospel, namely, that the Father sent the Son so that humans may participate in the Son's relationship to the Father. Our sharing in Christ's life (theosis) is, therefore, the north star that guides the whole of theology and integrates its individual parts. This is a penetrating and coherent reading of the biblical and patristic vision of the way theology should be done."

Bradley Nassif, professor of biblical and theological studies, North Park University

"The author has successfully presented a doctrine that has become identified with Eastern Orthodox theology. The author offers an important complement to most contemporary introductions to theology."

Lucien J. Richard, Catholic Library World, June 2010


Explanation of Patristic Citations

1. Introduction: Getting Started in Christian Theology
2. The Heart of Christianity: The Son's Relationship to the Father
3. From the Father-Son Relationship to the Trinity, and Back
4. Life as It was Meant to Be: A Reflection of the Father-Son Relationship
5. What Went Wrong? Our Loss of the Son's Relationship to the Father
6. The Promise: God?s Preparation of the World for His Son
7. The Incarnation: The Only Son Becomes the Firstborn Son
8. Redemption: God?s Gift of His Son's Relationship to the Father
9. Becoming Christian: Entering the Son's Relationship to the Father
10. Being Christian: Another Look at Reflecting the Father-Son Relationship

Appendix: Suggestions for Reading Four Church Fathers
Index of Names and Subjects
Scripture Index


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Donald Fairbairn is the Robert E. Cooley Professor of Early Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and a part-time professor at Evangelische Theologische Faculteit in Leuven, Belgium. He received his Ph.D in patristics from University of Cambridge in England and his books include Grace and Christology in the Early Church (Oxford University Press) and Eastern Orthodoxy Through Western Eyes (Westminster John Knox Press).