Making Sense of the World

Making Sense of the World

Mound Books

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Herman Bavinck taught that the “Trinity is wholly unlike anything else, but everything in the world is like the Trinity.” In this book, Vern Poythress uses a theological exploration of beauty to show how everything in the world reflects our Trinitarian God—from oak trees to image-bearers.

Because our world is a Trinitarian world, to understand it properly requires using multiple perspectives, as Poythress demonstrates by analyzing a grape! “Once we acknowledge that there are multiple possible perspectives on anything in the world,” Poythress says, “it suggests that there is no one metaphysical analysis that alone represents the ultimate structure of the world. Rather, structures are intrinsically multiple. God has built in the multiplicity. The unity in one perspective is no more ultimate than the diversity expressed in several perspectives. Unity and diversity go together. Each points to the other, and neither is independent of the other. That is true in God. Subordinately, it is true in analyzing the world that God made. God’s world bears the imprint of the unity-in-diversity and the diversity-in-unity that characterize his nature.”

Throughout this book, Poythress demonstrates how we can use various threefold perspectives as complementary ways of looking at creation, without reducing it to any one perspective. To understand our Trinitarian world in a non-reductionistic manner, we must employ a multiperspectival approach—specifically a triperspectival one: that’s the key contribution of this book.


“Herman Bavinck considered that while the Trinity is unlike anything in the world, everything in the world is like the Trinity. Poythress’s intriguing account of Trinitarian reflections in the world is worth extensive consideration. He is careful to operate within the constraints of biblical revelation and the historical parameters of church teaching, pointing the way to a vivid realization that the glory of the triune God can be perceived all around us in the things that he has made.”

—Robert Letham, Senior Research Fellow, Union School of Theology

“There may be no better Bible interpreter in conservative Reformed circles than Vern Poythress. This book represents years of labors in theology and exegesis. It is a followup to his splendid The Mystery of the Trinity, in which he comprehensively lays out the Christian view of the Godhead. Here, he applies the Holy Trinity to understanding the creation, its unity, and its diversity. Each chapter ends with a prayer, evidencing the connection between the ideas in every segment and our personal relation to the God herein defended. May the reader enjoy the book and be enriched by it.”

—William Edgar, Professor Emeritus of Apologetics, Westminster Theological Seminary

“When it comes to the deep questions of how we know what we know or why we find some things beautiful, there is always a danger that Christians will simply take ambient cultural ideas off the peg and sprinkle them with the magic dust of Bible verses. This wonderful book resists that disappointing trend, building instead a deeply and distinctively Christian account of beauty and knowledge. Beginning with the Trinity, Vern Poythress shows us in his characteristically clear and incisive way how unity and diversity beautifully cohere for the Christian, and how God gives us different perspectives to understand the world. This is a book on Trinitarian thinking that demonstrates the rare virtue of being both practical and readable. It will delight Christians wanting to explore the riches of the Bible for shaping our understanding of the world and deepening our love for the God who made it.”

—Christopher Watkin, Senior Lecturer in French Studies, Monash University



The Author

Vern S. Poythress

Vern S. Poythress (MLitt, University of Cambridge; PhD, Harvard University; DTh, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa) is distinguished professor of New Testament, biblical interpretation, and systematic theology at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. He has authored books on a wide range of topics; his works include Symphonic TheologyTheophany, and The Mystery of the Trinity.

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