Friday, October 7, 2022


I came across the illustration below on the right this morning and consequently went looking for posts here about the Trinity. From among those I found I select two:
In 2002 Fred Sanders was interviewed by Biola Connections about the doctrine of the Trinity.
Q. What are common analogies people use to explain the Trinity that are misleading?

A. Almost all analogies for the Trinity end up being misleading. Usually they each have one point of helpfulness and that’s it. Legend has it that when Saint Patrick was explaining the Christian faith to the barbarians of Ireland and got to the part about the Trinity, they said, ‘How can that possibly be true?’ And he picked up a shamrock and converted the whole nation of Ireland. So, it was good enough to get an incredible piece of evangelistic work done. But if you continue thinking about a shamrock, it gets less and less like the Trinity. It would be similar to using the analogy of a pizza that is cut into three pieces (like the three shamrock leaves). God the Father is not a third of God. Each person of the Trinity is fully God.

Another common analogy is water. It can exist in three forms: liquid, ice or steam. The major problem is you can’t have the same piece of water being liquid, solid and gaseous at the same time. But the Bible shows the three Persons of the Godhead existing simultaneously.

Q. What is the simplest way to accurately explain the Trinity?

A. As soon as you use an analogy to explain the Trinity, you introduce complexity. It’s ironic, but the simplest way to explain the Trinity is to tell the story of Jesus Christ. Jesus is sent by the Father to earth where He is empowered by the Holy Spirit. When he ascends to the right hand of the Father, he sends the Holy Spirit to us.

A good analogy can be helpful sometimes, but can’t possibly please God when the word ‘Trinity’ makes us think primarily about ice cubes and shamrocks rather than the incarnation of the Son and the outpouring of the Spirit.

Q. What is a common misconception people have about the Trinity?

A. Probably the most common misconception is the fear that it really doesn’t make sense. That somehow we became Christians and that committed us to believe in certain things and, unfortunately, one of those things is rationally impossible.

But the Trinity is not irrational in any direct sense. I think the main intellectual problem with the Trinity is that it’s so dense. When we say ‘the Trinity,’ we are really saying all the basic elements of the gospel at once. So it’s a very dense formula, sort of like e=mc2 is difficult to understand — not because it’s logically contradictory, but because there’s so much information packed into it.

The Trinity would be irrational if it were self-contradictory — for example, if it said that there are three persons in God and yet only one person. Or if it said that God is one being and God is three beings. But for God to be one Being who is three Persons in no way contradicts the laws of logic. Now, it may be beyond our understanding in some way because we don’t know of any other being like that. It’s a mystery, but a mystery is not an excuse to stop thinking. A mystery is something that is bigger than our minds can take in and invites us to a lifetime of intellectual wrestling.
And also this:
The term "Trinity" doesn't appear in the Scriptures but Kenneth Samples contends that there is certainly a Biblical basis for the doctrine:
  1. There is only one true God (Deuteronomy 6:4; Isaiah 43:10; John 17:3; Galatians 3:20).
  2. The Father is called or referred to as God (Psalm 89:26; Ephesians 4:6; Colossians 1:2–3; 2 Peter 1:17).
  3. The Son (Jesus Christ) is called or referred to as God (John 1:1; Philippians 2:6; Colossians 2:9; Titus 2:13).
  4. The Holy Spirit is called or referred to (or granted the status) as God (Genesis 1:2; John 14:26; Acts 13:2, 4; Romans 8:11).
  5. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are distinct persons and can be distinguished from one another (the Father is not the Son; the Father is not the Holy Spirit; and the Son is not the Holy Spirit) (Matthew 28:19; Luke 3:22; John 15:26; 16:13–15; 2 Corinthians 13:14).
  6. The three persons (Father or God; and Son or Christ or Lord; and Holy Spirit or Spirit) are frequently listed together in a triadic pattern of unity and equality (Romans 15:16, 30; 1 Corinthians 12:4-6; 2 Corinthians 1:21–22; Galatians 4:6).
The Scriptorium: For Saint Patrick: Two Cheers for Trinity Analogies, The Trinity’s Biblical Basis | Reflections

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