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.
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 ground 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.”
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 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).
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.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”