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Praise for “TheTrinitarian Father”

Praise for “TheTrinitarian Father”

The Trinitarian Father is not another work by an expert father to the rest of us — no, it’s better than that. Rather than offering his own wisdom, Uri Brito guides fathers through the whole biblical sweep of our Heavenly Father’s redemptive wisdom in his Son in order to unfold to us what true fatherhood is. In this work, we learn that the future of the church and of the culture is fathers — fathers who instruct their children from the the wisdom, example, and self-sacrifice of their Trinitarian Father.

John Fraiser, Pastor of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in La Grange, Kentucky

Review of the “The Trinitarian Father” by Joshua Torrey

Review of the “The Trinitarian Father” by Joshua Torrey

May God bless Uri Brito for this small book. The Trinitarian Father is another stepping stone in a growing “tradition” of recent literature seeking out a genuine Trinitarian Christianity. How we have arrived at a Trinitarian-less Church is beyond the scope of this book. But the fundamental fact that such a church exists provides the basis of the book’s principal and pastoral concerns. With the light of Scripture and an intense focus on the relationship between God the Father and God the Son, Uri Brito mercifully exposes the faults, failures and, hopefully, growing convictions of Christian fathers pursuing a robust Trinitarianism.

The Thesis

At first glance it may seem convoluted to attribute so much to the relationship between the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. But as Pastor Brito shows, the history of Christianity is rooted and grounded in a Trinitarian God. This Trinitarian God is a God of Persons and thus the originator and sustainer of community. At this point, the Biblical revelation of the Father should indicate that within the community the role of father is essential. Thus, if Christian fathers seek to mimic their maker (Eph 5:1) it makes sense to model a Trinitarian fellowship. In his introduction, Pastor Brito states his case,

“The Trinity is not some obscure and irrelevant doctrine put in systematic theologies to confuse us. We know that our entire lives depend on the true God, who is Father, Son, and Spirit.” (emphasis mine)

On the surface, there is a risk of internalizing the need to resolve the obscurity and irrelevance of the Trinity. But this is not the point of living out Trinitarian theology. Far from telling people that they can understand or mimic the Trinity fully, The Trinitarian Father seeks to amplify the glorious revelatory light of the Trinity onto crucial aspects of Christian, and thus Trinitarian, fatherhood. Instead of being a personal and internal event, Trinitarian theology should take fathers outside themselves and focus their attention on God as they apply it to their lives.

Part of fathers being removed from this internal thinking is the focus on relationships with sons. Though the book offers good advice for both daughters and sons, the model of Trinitarian fellowship is a Father-Son relationship. And it is this relationship that invigorates father-son relationships here and now. In the opening pages of this book, fathers are presented with an important look at the source of their namesake: the Father of everything (Eph 3:14-15). Pastor Brito highlights the Father as history Maker, cultivating Creator and ultimately image Producer. Each of these things is seen in the first and second Adam with a stronger emphasis on the Father-Son relationship with Jesus Christ the eternal Son.

Each of these is a responsibility to fathers because “You cannot claim to be a biblical father without first understanding what our Father in heaven has taught us” (pg. 11). Thus, in all practical matters, fathers are reassured that there is no step taken in the father-son relationship that was not taken by the Trinity first. By taking these truths seriously, The Trinitarian Father reassures fathers of their calling and ability to accomplish their task.

The Practice

The Trinitarian Father makes good on its promise to look at the practical functions of fatherly life. From wisdom to discipline and life to redemption, the example of the Father is made real in examples found in the Scriptures. In the chapters on wisdom, fathers are instructed on how to train their sons to be wise. Far from being an idealistic schoolroom, fathers mimic God as He taught in a fallen world. Fathers are shown the benefits of a long term perspective, a heart prepared for gladness
in sorrow and the ultimate value of true wisdom. Denying fatherly perfection, Pastor Brito supplies the
balm of grace as he describes the natural ways in which this should occur and confidently affirms fathers
who make mistakes.

Though saturated with good words, The Trinitarian Father keeps some of its most penetrating
exposures and personal convictions for its closing chapters. Concerning the liturgy of living, Pastor Brito
drives home the clearest of Biblical instruction (Deut 6:4-9) for fathers: fatherhood is not another “9 to
5.” Liturgy should continue and stretch to cover every moment within a covenant home. This, of
course, requires a discipline unnatural to fathers. Here again, Pastor Brito provides a balm of practical
application in the categories of “cleansed, consecrated and commissioned” (pg. 30) for covenant
renewal within the family. Understanding the state of humanity, a proper liturgy within the home
restores fallen fathers, prepares growing children and structures whole houses towards obedience to
God.

The final chapter on discipline is in fact a bridge between the health of families and the health of
the church. There is a direct correlation and it was surprising to see it laid out in such a simple manner.
The faithfulness of fathers to respond in humility and submission to their church leadership is brought to
the forefront in the battle for children in the church. In the evangelical community this is a battle the
church is losing and the pastoral insight in this chapter provides profound and simple reasons for why.
Building off of the example of a rebellious Israel, Pastor Brito masterly twists the pointing finger
of guilt back on modern fathers. For some time this finger has been pointed at the emphasis and
structure of the church. But in looking at Israel, it is more clear who demonstrated the rebellious
attitudes within the congregations: parents, and more specifically fathers. Far from demonstrating an
example of the Son’s submission to the Father, Israel as God’s “son” rejected obedience. Likewise,
Christian fathers, in their race to find leadership that doesn’t impose upon them, have pronounced to
their households that they are “masters of their own souls” (pg. 42). This behavior denigrates any
chance of children, and especially sons, seeing the church as a greater family with a greater submission
to a greater head. Eventually this Christ-less attitude is “a threat to themselves and to their own
families” (pg. 42).

Conclusion

Before one knows it, The Trinitarian Father has run out of words and passages to highlight with
notes. One may appreciate the blank space at the end for extra note taking but the length of the book
may leave people feeling hungrier than when they started. But this is not a pitfall of the author or book.
In fact it can be regarded as an indication that the book truly has reflected upon the inconsumable
depths of Trinitarian theology and the endless practical insight that it can provide.

Fathers seeking to better understand their role and pastors seeking to move their congregations
forward in faithfulness will benefit from the time spent by Pastor Brito in his “brief labor of love” (pg.
vii). Churches desiring to grow up Godly fathers, deacons, teachers and elders should instruct their fathers in these practical things and watch the abundance of blessing from Trinitarian thinking flow.

How Can Christmas Be Merry When I Am Grieving?

How Can Christmas Be Merry When I Am Grieving?

My three-year old son and I have a wonderful little work we do on Mondays and Thursday evenings. Our neighbor, who is a widow, no longer possesses the balance and strength to take her garbage can out. We head to her back yard and my son’s little hands grasp the garbage handle and out we go to drop it off at the curb. It is great training in service. And he is a true little gentleman already.

But something different happened this past Thursday. Our neighbor asked us to go inside and plug something in she was not able to do, which we did promptly. On our way out my boy looked at her and said “Merry Christmas.” She smiled at him, but as he rushed to get on his bike, our 86 year old neighbor looked at me and started to cry. Her husband, a dear man, and a grandfatherly figure to my children, died last year. “Don’t ask me to have a merry Christmas. I don’t know if I can,” she said. Her words were piercing. Her grief evident. Her husband of 60 years was no longer here with her. Her comfort and joy had departed.

And then last night we were struck again. In the middle of a cheery evening, my cell phone rang. The number was foreign to me, but I decided to pick it up anyway. It was my old college professor. She and her husband both taught my wife and I in a small Christian College in Central Florida. Since retiring, they both moved to beloved Pensacola, Fl. Once in a while we see each other and exchange greetings and memories. Last week, while visiting my chiropractor, she was there. It was a delight to see her again. She told me about her husband and how it would be lovely if we met for lunch one of these days. Then last night, that foreign number was hers. She called me to let me know that her husband of more than 50 years past away two days earlier.

My sister-in-law told us it was a difficult day for her and close friends who lost a loved one of 19 years of age. Death’s sting lost much of its potency, but its affects are very present.

How can Christmas be merry for those who are grieving? We often overlook those grieving this time of the year. In the midst of the grand narrative of the nativity, the incarnation of joy is reason for sorrow.

No more let sins and sorrows grow…

There is a paradoxical dimension to Christmas. In one sense, the “hopes and fears of all the years” are met in the God-man. But sorrows are still here. Incarnation theology always needs to be connected to a healthy psalmic lament. Our lives provide plenty of moments of disorientation. A loved one who dies days before one of the most festive days in the Christian calendar offers a lesson to all of us. The light of the world is here. The life of the world is here, but still death is not fully destroyed. The “tidings of comfort and joy” may be for some of us an exhortation to become comfort and joy to those who are comfortless and filled with grief this time of the year. Who are these people? Who are they in our own congregations? That mother who lost a son and whose memories are still freshly imprinted? That widow or widower who lost a lover and comforter? Who are they? Let us seek them out. Do not let their grief be a lonely grief. Only grieving together makes grieving a profoundly biblical emotion.

I weep for those whose loved ones are not here to share in the feast of the Christmas season. But Christmas is not just a message for the jolly; it is a message for the grieving also. Christmas means that grieving is not meaningless. In fact, grieving only makes sense in a world incarnated by God. Christ came for those who grieve. As the Psalmist cries out:

Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in distress;

my eye is wasted from grief;

my soul and my body also (Psalm 31:9).

The incarnation answers the Psalmists’ petition.

Frederick Buechner once wrote that “The incarnation is a kind of vast joke whereby the Creator of the ends of the earth comes among us in diapers… Until we too have taken the idea of the God-man seriously enough to be scandalized by it, we have not taken it as seriously as it demands to be taken.” Those who are scandalized rightly by this profound event are those who can grieve rightly.

As I look across the street I notice that my neighbor’s sons have arrived. They will help her in her grief. The merriness of Christmas is not dependent on whether we are ready to receive it or not, Christmas is merry because the Rod of Jesse is here. But still our hearts ache and we are called to grieve with those who grieve. We grieve, however, with hope because our hope is here. And so we pray:

O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel!

Phil Robertson and the Liberal Media

Phil Robertson and the Liberal Media

Let me begin with a confession: I have seen the equivalent of 30 minutes of Duck Dynasty. This makes me uncommitted to the show. I have no intention of watching any more of it. At least, until Phil Robertson goes out and hits a home-run. A&E exercising their free speech called it a foul ball, and beyond that treated Phil as unprofessional. Rumors are that Phil has been looking for a reason to leave and he just found himself one.

Governor Bobby Jindal summarized the situation when he wrote:

It is a messed up situation when Miley Cyrus gets a laugh, and Phil Robertson gets suspended.

There are a couple of assumptions that need to be discussed from the outset. These assumptions shape the way we react to such news. First, what did Phil Robertson say? He said bluntly:

“It seems like, to me, a vagina — as a man — would be more desirable than a man’s anus,” Robertson says in the January issue of the men’s magazine. “That’s just me. I’m just thinking: There’s more there! She’s got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying? But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical.”

Let’s leave the anatomy details aside. Part of the argument is that sin is not logical. It’s non-sensical. Or as I have said elsewhere, sin is stupid. Phil Robertson’s world is a logical one. Don’t be distracted by his hunting gear, the man is truly a savvy biblical theologian.

The first assumption Christian must make in any discussion on public/social cultural matters is that sin is non-sensical. And we live in a world where sin is treated as fashion.

Secondly, this goes directly to Piers Morgan’s latest tweet:

Phil Robertson is not a ‘victim of political correctness’. He’s a victim of his own repulsively racist, homophobic bigotry.

Let’s be honest. Political correctness is one aspect here of how the liberal media treated our redneck hero. But the other assumption we must make is that what passes for “repulsively racist, homophobic bigotry” is just simply biblical religion. Now, of course, I’d argue that the Bible is just and right and holy. And the Gospel of grace, which puts up no walls of partition, is the farthest thing from racist and repulsive, but again, this is how they will see biblical Christianity expressed. So, assumption number two is that the message of the Bible is repulsive to those who deny its authority; or better, to quote St. Paul, “it is foolishness to the world.”

When Myley Cyrus exalted the god of promiscuity she was exalting the god of the liberal media. Myley Cyrus is the world’s wisdom.

Finally, some more sophisticated Christian thinkers may say that the way Phil used his words were drawing attention only to one element of the conversation, namely, that of body parts. The argument then is, female body parts–for men– are more attractive than male body parts. The argument does not need to stop there, but it should include it. Yes, the body is God’s design for pleasure, and to deny it is to affirm a form of gnostic god of your own. The marriage bed is undefiled, but it is defiled when it is populated by members of the same sex and members of the opposite sex who should be far away from that bed. Phil is assuming an undefiled marriage bed. So, the final assumption is that however sophisticated our argument, we need to express the sacredness of that bed, and the defilement of that bed when it is populated by un-godly partners.

Still, to the fancy conservative Christians out there expecting a more Augustinian anthropology to be announced from the mouth of a simple man who loves God and guns is to expect too much, and thus fails to be an adequate critique. Yes, there is much more that can be said about the matter, but sometimes a simple affirmation of what’s right and wrong should be sufficient.

And still one more note. Though Phil Robertson’s arguments may not have been helpful in a pastoral counseling room, it was precisely what the media needed to hear. As a result, the marriage issue is a front story. And we need to keep marriage as a front story again and again.

The Trinitarian Father (Book and PDF edition)

The Trinitarian Father (Book and PDF edition)

The good news is that the book is now in print and should be here by Christmas. Some of you may have purchased the book in kindle form, but the new book is a revised version of the kindle edition with several new chapters added. It is a great Christmas gift for all dads (do you hear it moms?)

Covenant Media Foundation will be publishing the book and as soon as I am made aware it’s available I will make it known.

The even better news is that you can get a PDF copy of my booklet now for any amount. That’s right. Simply donate however much you think my little labor of love is worth, and leave your e-mail in my paypal account or send me an e-mail at uriesou@gmail.com and I will send you the book in PDF form.

Suggested donation: $1.99



Blessing and Kingship

Blessing and Kingship

David Garland observes that the genealogy in Matthew reveals something unique about the nature of Jesus’ salvation:

Both David and Abraham were promised a son. The birth of Isaac, miraculous as it was (Gen. 22:7), and the birth of Solomon, beloved of the Lord (2 Samuel 12:24-25), are superseded by the birth of Jesus, whose conception is even more miraculous and who is beloved of God’s own son. a

The promises made to Abraham and David were promises of a universal nature. The promise to Abraham was that by his seed all the nations of the earth shall gain a blessing (Gen. 22:18). The Davidic promise was that of rulership and kingship. In Jesus, all the nations of the earth are blessed and his kingship shall have no end.

  1. Garland, David. Reading Matthew, 17  (back)
Dining with the Prophet

Dining with the Prophet

…the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have goo news preached to them (Mat. 11:5).

The prophet of the New World is here and his name is Jesus, the Christ. The prophet bids us come and dine with him.

He gives us a table of certainty. Here Christ gives himself for his sheep. Here we see clearly more so than our first century forefathers that the Son of God brings a kingdom that shall have no end. But beyond that, this table is for us a memorial of mercy. It was nothing but the grace of God that caused the hand of God to extend us mercy rather than doom. We are recipients of the body and blood of Jesus not because of our loveliness, but because Christ in the incarnation of love willingly gave of himself to us. We have received the objective pardon from the true prophet of Israel, and that pardon comes through death and resurrection. Let us dine with One who gave us sight, made us to walk into newness of life, cleansed us by the washing of water and word, gave us ears to hear, raised us from the dead, and preaches good news to us.

Jesus Means Savior

Jesus Means Savior

Q. Why is the Son of God called “Jesus,”
meaning “savior”? a

A. Because he saves us from our sins, and because salvation should not be sought and cannot be found in anyone else.

We sometimes can overlook the particular meaning of these titles for our blessed Lord Jesus Christ. But they are all intentional in the Scripture. They describe a particular function in the messianic work of Jesus. This expectation we undergo during this Advent Season provides us with reasons for meditating on the nature of our Lord. And in this catechism question, we see that the very definition of the name that is above every name, Jesus, means “savior.”

This Savior accomplishes two activities: First, he saves us from our sins. Part of the Advent expectation is an expectation of salvation from sin. Our natures are marred by the fall, and the Savior transforms our natures by uniting us to Himself. Jesus means deliverance from past sins, current sins, and future sins. But secondly, to expect Jesus, the Savior, means that we long for no other messiah, but Christ alone. We dare not seek other gods. We dare not doubt the salvation of Jesus. He is our only hope.

On this morning, we pray as the songwriter taught us:

Savior of the nations come, Virgin’s Son, make here Thy home!

Marvel now, O heav’n and earth, That the Lord chose such a birth.

  1. Heidelberg Catechism, #29  (back)
Tremper Longman on Rick Warren’s New Book

Tremper Longman on Rick Warren’s New Book

Longman, my former professor at RTS, wrote this on his facebook page worth re-quoting here:

I just heard Rick Warren talk about his new book, the Daniel Plan on CBS news yesterday. I applaud his efforts to help us all keep trim. However, citing Daniel’s water and vegetable diet as the model made me chuckle a bit. The look that Nebuchadnezzar was going for was not lean and mean but plump. If you check out ancient depictions of Babylonian wise men, they are bald, round faced and chubby. Daniel was giving God room to work. At the end Nebuchadnezzar thought it was his diet that made Daniel so pleasantly chubby (many cultures even today prize a little girth on people), but Daniel knew that God was in control and made him chubby in spite of his diet. The next chapter shows that it is God’s wisdom and not the Babylonian wisdom that he learned in school that made him truly wise. For more detail see my Daniel commentary (NIVAC; Zondervan).

My Talk at the Geneva Academy Donor’s Banquet in Monroe, LA

My Talk at the Geneva Academy Donor’s Banquet in Monroe, LA