A scene from the Leben der heiligen Altväter (1482)

Review of Harrower, God of All Comfort: A Trinitarian Response to the Horrors of this World

Journal of Spiritual Formation and Soul Care 13(1), 134-136

Working from the conviction that Christian theology has deep resources for those who have experienced trauma, this volume explores “how God the Trinity engages with horrors and trauma, and what people can hope for in light of this.” Scott Harrower, as a theologian with a lively interest in the systematic coherence of Christian doctrine, brings some new resources to the developing conversation between trauma studies and Christian thought. Leading figures in the field of trauma theology have already done deep dives into important doctrines; in particular Shelly Rambo has done masterful work on grace, pneumatology, and most recently resurrection. Harrower is conversant enough with the literature of trauma-informed theology that his book can serve as a well-footnoted introductory survey of the field, especially for evangelical readers who are new to it. But he also expands the systematic scope of the field by surveying an ambitiously broad range of doctrines together at once.

The word “trinitarian” in the subtitle signals this breadth. The word does not, readers should note, indicate that this is a book mainly on the doctrine of God proper: It is not. Instead, the word “trinitarian” is a marker displaying Harrower’s intent to bring the full scope of the Christian message to bear on the problem of horrors. A trinitarian response to trauma mobilizes all the theological resources of the faith, in all their density, complexity, interdependence, and comprehensiveness. Certainly God’s character stands behind this…