The Best Conceptual Explanation of the Trinity I’ve Seen

God is the author of creation

The Trinity is easily one of the hardest concepts to navigate in Christianity. For some, it can even be a barrier to accepting Christianity. If you’ve ever found yourself in that awkward conversational dance when you have to explain how God could be three entities at once, let me share with you the best conceptual explanation of the Trinity I’ve ever read.

It comes from A Severe Mercy, by Sheldon Vanauken. After becoming a Christian (which is an incredible story in itself), Vanauken began regularly hosting friends, colleagues, and students at his Oxford studio to discuss Christianity. A non-Christian friend asked Vanauken how Jesus could be completely God and completely man—a concept which to him (and perhaps, even you) appeared to fly in the face of common sense. He says, “You Christians always take refuge in mysteries.”

How Jesus is fully man and fully God

After another Christian friend fumbled through a description of the “persons of God,” Vanauken made a profound connection. He and his wife, Davy, had just talked about writing a novel—one in which they themselves would be characters.

Do you see where this is going?

“‘Okay, suppose I write it—it’s too complicated with two authors—and I put myself in it,'” Vanauken says. “‘There I am, walking down the High, wearing a Jesus tie—in the book. And let’s say I make up a lot of characters, not using real people for fear of hurting their feelings. But I am in it, and I, the character, say whatever I would say in the various situations that occur in my plot.'”

Right now, you can imagine what you would say or do in situations you’ve never been in. You know yourself well enough to have a pretty good idea how you would act, feel, and think in that moment.

When you write, you are creating a new world. And as the creator of that world, you can enter it. (Click to tweet.)

God wrote himself into the story.

“‘Don’t you see?'” Vanauken says. “‘I am incarnate in my book. I am out here writing it, so I’m like God the Father. But it’s really me in the book, too, isn’t it? So that’s Jesus, the Son, right? The me in the book speaks my words—and yet they are speeches that I’ve probably never made in real life, not being in those situations. And yet can’t you see that it’s really me?'”

The version of him in the book is independent of the version of him that is writing the book, but it’s still him.

“‘I’m out here, being the “Author of all things” and I’m in the book, taking part in the scenes of the “drammer”. Incarnate in my book. Now, the me in the book: he’s all me, isn’t he? And he’s all character, too, isn’t he? Like the doctrine: All God and All man.'”

Jesus is God in a human body—the creator incarnated in his creation.

Why Jesus had to die

Vanauken even goes on to suggest a reason why, even though God is the author of creation, Jesus had to die in his “story”:

“‘And one more thing: suppose the characters run away with the story—authors are always saying that happens. It might be necessary, whatever I had originally intended, for me to get killed . . .”

A well-developed fictional character can essentially write the story for you. In On Writing, Stephen King explains how when a character has a life of his/her own, the story takes shape around how the character navigates the situations the author puts them in. He says, “I think the best stories always end up being about the people rather than the event, which is to say character-driven.”

God created the world. Then he put us in it. Humanity plus sin drastically changed the story.

Where the Holy Spirit fits in

Vanauken’s wife, equally active in many of these conversations, added the final piece to this brilliant explanation of the Trinity: the Holy Spirit.

“‘If Van invents characters, they’ll all, even the bad ones, have something of Van in them, won’t they? So you see? We all have something of God in us—God’s spirit—but only the One, Jesus, is God Incarnate.”

When you create characters, even characters that are completely unlike yourself, a little piece of you goes into them. Whether it happens consciously or not, the act of creating inevitably leaves the mark of the creator on his or her creation.

If you’ve wrestled with popular metaphors for the Trinity (like the three states of water, or the three major components of an egg), you’re aware that no analogy or metaphor is perfect: this one is no exception. All humans are made in the image of God—that’s his mark—but not all humans contain the Holy Spirit. For that, we have to accept Christ.

Update: as some have pointed out in the comments, the greatest weakness of this analogy is that it would suggest both Jesus and the Spirit originated from God, instead of existing with God from the beginning (John 1:1).

However, I think you’ll see that even the Holy Spirit component of the metaphor can still be helpful. The Spirit is still God, but removed from both God the author and God the character (Jesus). The Spirit influences all of God’s other characters in ways we cannot always identify. Sometimes the Spirit contradicts what we, the well-developed characters, would choose to do of our own accord—the Spirit relays the vision of the author.

God is the author of creation. He wrote himself into the story as Jesus. His Spirit influences his characters (us). (Click to tweet.)

What’s the best explanation of the Trinity that you’ve heard? Tell us in the comments.

Comments

    • Ryan Nelson says

      If accepted in isolation and completely independently of Scripture, yes, an analogy like this would favor modalism. But any analogy should only be a piece of the conversation, and the people who use them are free to explain their flaws and dismiss the pieces that don’t help. Analogies are not by any means perfect models, nor should they be the only explanation.

      • Sam says

        While it’s true analogies don’t need to be perfect, this one is awful – it’s not straight modalism, it’s more Marcellianism (in which God the Father begets the son and spirit temporarily for the work of salvation, and then reabsorbs them into the divine unity). That’s the reason our creeds include the words ‘and his kingdom shall have no end’ – because he always will be – not just inside the ‘book’ of creation.
        Sure, you could use this briefly to help people see something they hadn’t seen before. But it reinforces the whole tendency of the modern church to ignore the reality of the Trinity, to reduce God to a monad, rather than to understand it and glory in it.

        • Ryan Nelson says

          It’s not just that analogies don’t need to be perfect—they can’t be. They take two things with similar qualities to help draw a comparison. It let’s you look at both halves in a new light. For an analogy to be perfect, it would have to also eliminate the differences, not just highlight the similarities. This would amount to saying, “The Trinity is like the Trinity,” which is not in any way an analogy.

          I can completely understand the frustrations with the analogy if it is perceived as the only tool someone uses (or even the only analogy) in a conversation or series of conversations discussing the Trinity. But like you touched on, it could play a role in helping someone see something they hadn’t seen before. I’m not sure I understand the criticism of the modern church here, but I have only ever seen analogies as part of the process of seeking understanding—not a method of circumventing understanding.

          Thank you for your comment.

  1. says

    The problem with any illustration of the Trinity is that it will always reduce to heresy at some point (usually modalism), because there really is nothing that is exactly like the Trinity with which to compare it.

    Vanauken's illustration of the Trinity, while it seems to avoid the usual pitfall of modalism, is still problematic. For instance, It has the Father creating the Son and Spirit, who are at some level dependent on the Father for their existence.

    While I can appreciated what Vanauken is trying to do, I believe that we are much better served by stating the doctrine and supporting it from Scripture, rather than attempting to come up with illustrations which we know from the outset will be deeply flawed to the point of actually teaching something untrue about God.

    • Mark says

      The idea of a Trinity was never in scriptures, except through a Greek philosophical lens. The apostles never believed they wrote about a triune person when they wrote of God. God is a Spirit. God is love. God is holy. Each statement has clear, clean biblical support. God is a unique entity that can’t be understood nor replicated as he exists in a tri-personhood united in a single substance is not a concept subscribed to by any Biblical author. It is historically the perspective of the church, but not Jesus or His disciples. Tertullian even said the majority of believers did not subscribe to that view in approx. 175 when he wrote. Only as committees met and argued over centuries did the idea fully develop.
      It is time to dispense with the idea of the trinity and return to the Biblical idea of a God who is love, and a spirit and holy who dwelled inside of Christ, and that Spirit can now dwell in us through the baptism of His Spirit. Clean, clear, simple truth.

      • Craig says

        Mark is correct. Jesus and his disciples were monotheists not Trinitarians. The Trinity doctrine is a Greek philosophical attempt at explaining Hebraic ideas.

      • Jeffrey Luna says

        You say, Tri-personhood united in a single substance is not a concept subscribed to by any Biblical Author.”
        Please explain then, why the Apostle Matthew describes the Tri-Unity of God in Chapter 3:16-17, “After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him, and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.”

        The Apostle Matthew also quotes Jesus commanding His followers to “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.”

        Respectfully,
        Jeffrey Luna

  2. says

    The Scriptures are clear: the Father is God, the Son is God and the Spirit is God as well. And since the Scripture are clear that there is only one God, the only solution is the Trinity, one What and three Whos. The Trinity (to quote Greg Koukl), is a solution, not a problem.

  3. says

    I aree with the first two comments – this is NOT a good explanation of the Trinity and may actually help someone to fall into modalism. My recommendation is to remove this post entirely – there is enough wrong teaching about God out there already without having to add something like this from a respectable source.

  4. Mike Jones says

    I appreciate you sharing your opinion. I hope you can take this suggestion, not as criticism, but as a genuine response to consider the next time you share supposed bests of something. Please consider when it comes to concepts that deeply matter to people’s deepest beliefs you make sure that your best experience is better than most others “best” experience or it comes off as offensive because of the stakes and weight of the concept are so important to people.

    God is not something like a Yelp review where your subjective suggestion may or may not be helpful. And doing such an act to the concept of God is super distracting and not helpful despite your good intentions. The problem with ones standard is there’s always one who has a higher one. It is a little sad to think you’ve never been exposed to better conceptions than this one or the others you shared. But your assumption that the Christian tradition doesn’t have better conceptions than this is offensive and the fact you missed all those traditional conceptions for this second rate one was hard to take. Thanks for trying though. Interesting analogy.

  5. John L Owens says

    I disagree, to a degree, with the comments. Yes, there are shortfalls in any explanation of God and the possibility of heresy if we rely on those explanations. However, people what to have some measure of understanding of the Trinity-or Triunity-of God.
    I use a few illustrations, one of them I use is to as them what a poqkwnef is. Oh, you have never heard of one of those? Let me try to explain it, although this will be quite difficult since nobody has ever seen or touched one. God is like that, we haven’t seen or touched Him and really can’t “explain Him”, but here are a couple of illustration that, although they fall short, help us to understand a little bit. Be sure to understand that these are by no means a full or completely accurate description of God, but do describe some aspects of God as One and three persons at the same time.

    At this point I will use 2 or 3 illustrations, pointing out the problem, or shortcoming, of the illustration at the same time.

  6. John L Owens says

    Whoops, my shortcoming. That should read, “I use a few illustrations, one of them I use is to as, them what a poqkwnef is.” Ask, not as.

  7. Ben Vincent says

    While I agree with previous commenters that this analogy is imperfect, I still think it provides a valuable visual for unbelievers. As with any Trinitarian analogy, it’s important to point out its flaws when using it, but I nevertheless believe that this is a useful picture to help people gain a greater conceptual understanding of the Trinity. As long as its shortcomings are clearly noted.

    Thanks for posting this!

  8. says

    This is a terrible analogy. It's part modalism, part subordinationism, part Arianism. It is modalistic in that it has one person merely appearing in different ways. It subordinational in that the Son is not of the same nature as the Father, since the Son does not possess all the attributes of the author. It is Arian in that the Son is created by the Father. The analogy also states that like the Holy Spirit, "a little piece" of the author is in each character. This implies that as beleivers we only have a little piece of God in us, rather than all of God–who is omnipresent–within us at all times. The article does say that all analogies, including this one, are imperfect, but that is a gross understatement. This analogy is actually a multi-faceted heresy and should never be used to explain the Triune nature of the one true God who is unlike anything or anyone else.

  9. says

    The title intrigued me, but when attempt to exlpain the Trininty without using the Word of God as our authority they fall apart. This one certainly unravels much faster than others. I appreciate the comments and agree that this should be removed.

  10. says

    Mike, thanks for sharing your thoughts and explaining the analogy's flaws more succinctly. Would you mind following up with how you explain the Trinity to non-believers? I appreciate your thoughts.

  11. says

    Hi Anthony. This post is not an attempt to provide an authoritative or perfect explanation of the Trinity. I agree that on its own, this analogy would lean towards modalism, but as with any analogy, we should take the pieces that help, and dismiss the pieces that don't. An analogy is not a substitute for a thorough understanding of the concept it's based on. If none of this is helpful to you, I'm sorry, but it has been incredibly valuable to me in my ministry to non-believers. If you have stronger concepts that someone can grasp without a thorough understanding of Scripture, I would love to hear them so that I may use them as well.

  12. says

    You're absolutely right that this is not rooted in Scripture. The context this analogy came from was a conversation between a converted atheist and a practicing atheist. For me, this explanation has been a valuable tool in helping non-Christians grasp the Trinity—which, for some, can be a significant barrier to accepting Scripture. In Christianity we believe many things which cannot be understood without the Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:14), but there are also plenty of concepts (such as the Trinity) which we can still try to explain in a way that makes sense to an unbeliever. I hope you can see the value of Christians sharing ways to communicate these concepts to unbelievers, and if you have encountered better metaphors, I would love to add them to the ones I know.

  13. says

    Thanks Carmen. I think the challenge with the Trinity is that we don't always know how to draw from other examples to communicate what "one What and three Whos" looks like. That's a great quote, and I think it's one that Christians can readily accept as true, but it always helps to have more pictures to draw from.

  14. says

    Great thoughts, Brian. Scripture is certainly going to make a stronger case for itself than we can, but without grasping the systems we use to understand Scripture, it can appear to contradict itself or claim things that don't make sense. I think that's where these analogies/metaphors have value: they use an unbeliever's system of understanding the world to provide an explanation for things that aren't of this world. They provide a framework for an unbeliever to begin to understand some of the more confusing concepts within Scripture. When they adopt stronger, biblical systems for understanding Scripture (and read it with the Spirit), they can shed the former, weaker systems of understanding.

      • Albert says

        I used to think this was a great analogy until I realized that all three cannot exist at the same time from the same source. If I am boiling a pot of water, I cannot simultaneously freeze it. It does exist as liquid and gas simultaneously as it is boiling but no ice cubes are present in that mixture :)

        • Moorea says

          It’s still a good analogy because the very atomic structure of water stays the same whether room temp, steamed or frozen. It’ s never anything but water and can’t be any other atomic sturcture but water.

  15. PHILIP R. BIGLER says

    EXPLAIN THE TRINITY…THE TRINITY IS RESULT OF CELL DIVISION. GOD IS ONE, HOWEVER, WHEN THIS CELL DIVIDES TO SERVE A NEEDED DIMENSION THE RESULT IS THE BEGOTTEN SON; THE SAME SUBSTANCE AS THE FATHER.
    GOD MUST BE DIMENSIONAL TO FULFIL THE MISSION TO A MULTIPLICITY OF ENDEAVORS. BEFORE THE MATERIAL CREATION, JESUS CHRIST WAS THE WORD, THE VERBAL DIMENSION OF GOD. IN THE BEGINNING THE WORD SPOKE AND THE WORLDS WERE CREATED. PRIOR TO THE MATERIAL CREATION, THE WORD, WAS THE NEEDED DIMENSION OF GOD TO PRODUCE WHATEVER COULD BE CREATED BY THE MODE OF SPEEKING.

  16. Steve Spearing says

    In my opinion (as of right now)you can’t explain it unambiguously. Every human analogy falls short. It just simply is. All three display the attributes of God and yet the scriptures clearly presents God as one. However, each person in the Godhead fulfills a particular role. For instance, Andrew Murry wrote a book years ago, Redemption – Accomplished and Applied. It comes down to this, the plan of salvation is offered by God the Father, It is accomplished by God the Son, and it is applied by God the Holy Spirit.

  17. says

    Ryan Nelson Hi Ryan – although no analogy will suffice to describe the Trinity because God is "otl Trinity!her", I like to use the analogy of time. Time is past, present and future. Neither are each other, and all exist simultaneously. That might help avoid the modalistic tendancy with the writer-character illustration you use. I would love a knock down analogy, but none exist except the rea

    • Ryan Nelson says

      Interesting! That’s an intriguing one, and it doesn’t sound like modalism. I think your comment got cut off there, were you saying nothing works as well as the real thing?

  18. says

    Hey fellas. How about, if instead of simply reacting to the flaws we can instantly perceive in the analogy, we try and see if there might be something there worth pursuing? That is leading us on to a better analogy for use in evangelizing the world. The fact that the flaws are being brought up here in detail is protection against a blanket acceptance of the analogy by new believers reading this blog.
    The reason I find this concept interesting, as Ryan does, is that just three days ago a similar analogy came to my mind. You can imagine the surprise I felt when I saw this story today. Mine plays a bit differently, which is why I think this line of thought might be worth pursuing. In my version, the author is the Triune God and by means of a conversation they are having with one another regarding a memoir they are writing, we get a "'behind the scenes" view of the creation story through present day.
    It's a story I would ike to write one day, should it be able to be written in a doctrinally sound manner.
    Thanks Ryan for opeingin yourself up in this way. I think the kingdom will be better for it, and thank you men for caring enough to protect the doctrine of the church and those who are desperaty searching for answers.
    One last thought. It's not so bad that there is an air of mystery in this, after all God calls us to live by faith, not by sight, right?

  19. says

    It takes men and women many years to truly grasp the basis of the Trinity, and for some to imply that we are to merely go to Scripture and find the answer there is problematic for the unbeliever, whom this is aimed at. Scripture is a secondary in their method of understanding.

    This explanation is not a doctrine of the Trinity, but merely a simple concept that a non-believer would begin to understand. One needs to remember that they are without the crucial aspect that would tie in the beginnings of a spiritual understanding…the Holy Spirit Himself. Remove Him from the explanation, in both senses, and you would be heading down a dead end street.

    It is most certainly not doctrinely correct, but it does a decent job of certain fundementals for one to perhaps dig into Scripture and reveal the true meaning. Something that even the most learned scholar will never find out until glorification.

  20. says

    The best analogy I've read was by (I believe) Dr. Henry Morris who compared the concept of the Trinity to the makeup of the universe. The universe is made of up Space, Mass, and Time. It is not 1/3 Space, 1/3 Mass, and 1/3 Time, but all space, all mass, and all time. They are separate – but not separate – since without Time nothing can happen, without Space, there is no place for anything to happen, and without Mass, there is nothing for anything to happen to.

  21. says

    The problem, Ryan, is that if you use this explanation to help non-Christians grasp the Trinity, you are giving them an incorrect, misleading explanation. Your presupposition seems to be that a carefully contrived explanation can convince the unconvinced of the truth and lead them to true salvation. In reality the result may be that they accept as truth that which is false. Apologetics (the field of study into which this effort would fall) can never, on its own, apart from the work of the Holy Spirit, convince any unbeliever of the truth. As 1 Cor. 2:14 says, "the natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned" (ESV). The only people who see and understand spiritual truth are those whom the Holy Spirit is working in their hearts to draw them to saving faith in Christ. You seem to be making the mistake of many who have tried to make the incomprehensible, infinite, triune God understandable to the finite mind. It is best to explain the truth of what Scripture teaches and allow the Holy Spirit to work in the hearts of the listener to call to Christ those whom God has chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4). Please don't encourage people to use illustrations such as this one which is replete with various heresies to explain the Trinity.

  22. says

    The Apostle John wrote that "God is Light" in 1 John 1. While we see a visible spectrum of light there are two other spectrums of light which we do not see, infrared and ultraviolet. Interestingly enough, light is comprised of 3 spectrums (albeit humanly measured) but each spectrum is light. Infrared can not be seen, but can be felt (Just as the Holy Spirit), ultraviolet cannot be seen, nor can it be felt-however the effects of ultraviolet light can be felt such as sunburn (Just as the Father who is not seen, nor felt, but is clearly revealed in what He created). The Son is represented by the visible spectrum. Consequently when God the Son became fully man we were then able to see God. God chose a rainbow immediately following he flood to represent Hos character as a visible representation for all to see. Rainbows are formed when light rays bend in water making the visible spectrum visible. Jesus tells Nicodemus that man must be born of both water and spirit-water referring to physical birth. So when Light (God the Son) came to earth in the form of man(water birth), God became visible to humanity. Seems the Apostle John might have been onto something.

  23. says

    Ryan, Sure. I just take a straightforward approach and tell them that God, by definition, is unlike anything in nature or any other person. He is unique among all that exists. His nature is triune, and by that we mean that He is the only true God, and He has always existed for all eternity as three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He is not three gods, but He is one God. And He does not just reveal Himself in three ways. Each member of the Trinity is a person, but they are all three of the exact same nature and essence of being. They are all three fully and completely God–not just part of God. And at the same time, God is one. He is three and one.

    What I have found (and I have had this conversation more times than I can remember) is that I get two basic reactions (painting with a broad brush here). First, some people are hostile to Christiantiy or to any belief in God. Their default position is one of rejection and often even ridicule. They reject/mock the idea of the Trinity as foolish and nonsensical, just as they do many other things we believe (the atheist, for example, rejects anything supernatural, such as the resurrection of Christ or the parting of the Red Sea).

    Second, some people really want an explanation, and they want to understand the Trinity. Though they often say things like, "Wow! That's hard to get my head around." They don't have a hard time accepting it. Even if they reject triinitarianism outright, they will usually acknowledge that it is a unique tenet of our faith and will respect the doctrine. And if they are believers (or in the process of becoming believers), then they usually readily accept the Trinity.

    I've found that people who have hear various analogies (water being in three states, or a man having three roles, for example) have a harder time understanding the doctrine because they have been misled by a bad analogy. Therefore, their minds are still trying to find a material comparison. But if we just let the doctrine stand as it is, people (in my experience) accept it well enough unless they are predisposed not to. Remember, spiritual things are spiritually discerned (1 Corinthians 2:14), so I am of the position that we simply explain it wihout attempting to use what everyone would acknowledge is a flawed analogy (as everyone seems to acknowledge that all analogies are flawed).

    Also, forgive me if I came across as harsh in my original post. That was not my intention. I'm just pretty direct, and I think the Trinity is the most maligned doctrine today. I also think that bad analogies are hurting our cause, instead of helping it. We need to be very careful and precise when defining our doctrines, and that probably holds true on this doctrine more than any. Thanks for the friendly dialogue.

  24. says

    Mike Miller I agree. I think it's possible that a lot of times analogies arise out of the conflict between 1 Corinthians 2:14 and 1 Peter 3:15. But perhaps instead of analogies we need to take Paul's route from that same chapter you referred to: 1 Corinthians 2:2 “For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” The challenge, I think, is that we can't always explain things the same way to everyone—kids don't see the world the same way as adults, the poor as the rich, the uneducated as the educated, the American as the European, etc.—but it has to remain rooted in Christ. This topic is especially personally to me because not all of my family is Christian, and I volunteer in a ministry that is designed from the ground up to reach unchurched kids (so I constantly find myself trying to break down Scripture into its simplest forms). I can still always use correction and guidance from within the church.

    Thanks for taking the time to respond, and for expressing yourself so cordially.

  25. says

    Just a new spin on a modalistic explanation. Any time you start a sentence with "God is like", you just crossed into heresy. God is HOLY. Which means He is not like anyone or anything.

  26. says

    That video is pretty hilarious. I think the problem comes from the expectation that an analogy can serve as a complete substitute for a biblical explanation, and not just a supplement. Analogies cannot eliminate all of the differences between two unlike things—otherwise it wouldn't be an analogy. That expectation can on one hand create incomplete or inaccurate theology, but on the other hand, dismissing analogies can prevent people from making connections they might not otherwise make.

  27. Adrian says

    Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born. (1 Corinthians 15:1–8)

    That passage summarizes what Jesus said how to get saved according to the Gospel. It is very simple yet very profound and has to be differentiated from the belief about the Trinity and about Jesus being God in the flesh. They belong to the category of what followers of Jesus believe once they are saved and their understanding has been enlightened through the indwelling Holy Spirit of God, not in order to get saved.

    When someone repents (=they are truly sorry and turn away from their old selfish life) and believes in Jesus as the final perfect sacrifice for the forgiveness of their sins, the removal of shame and fear, those teachings become much clearer. Again, believing in them is a result of believing in what Jesus has done for us first. So first comes faith in what Jesus has done. This then results in an even deeper understanding of who Jesus is.

    Hence, when people ask me about the Trinity, I reply with, ‘good question. Can I give you some background first to understand the answer?’

    I then preach the Gospel first, making sure they understand it. The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing: The Gospel.

    Once that happened, people often have no more interest in getting the Trinity explained. If they still do, then it may be time for limited analogies:

    In trying to come to terms with this subtlety it will be helpful to realize that everything in this world consists of a kind of Trinity, namely substance, form and purpose! To put this statement to the test let us think of a pencil. Like everything else it is made out of a substance that is formed into something, in our case into a pencil. Its purpose is to enable people to write, in the same way as all other things have some purpose!

    The geometric illustration of the Trinity is found in a triangle. The tree corners are inseparable and simultaneous. The one that represents Jesus is touched by a circle that stands for his human nature, whereas the corner indicates his divine nature. (Phil 2: 5 -11) Questions and apparent contradictions regarding Jesus being God (e.g. ‘How can God eat, die, etc. like Jesus?’) are easily solved by taking his two natures into consideration. What he did in one he did not in the other.

    You, dear reader, have got a body, a soul and a spirit according to Hebrews 4:12. Yet, in spite of this you are unique, you are the only one who is like you in the whole wide world.

    Nature is another example where we find diversity within unity. On one hand one can find nowhere a bigger variety. When God created flowers he did not just design red roses. There are countless different forms, shapes and colours. On the other hand is nature’s unity evident in the fact that the extinction of one kind of animal effects many others.
    St. Augustine, an early church father, compared the Trinity with love that involves a lover, the loved one and a spirit of love between them.

    Fire generates heat and light. Thus fire, with its light and heat is one thing that has different functions.

    Multiplicity in unity is a very common phenomena. This kind of spiritual unity which reflects the Biblical understanding of the Trinity is distinguished from mathematical unity where 1+1+1 = 3. In mathematical terms one could compare Trinity with 1 x 1 x 1 = 1.

    This brings us to another analogy for the truth of the Trinity, that of man’s mind. He has one mind, which is capable of thinking thoughts and expressing them in words. Mind, thoughts and words are one. No one can say that God has no Mind that expresses itself in Thoughts and Words. God in Mind and Thoughts and Words is one God and He never claimed that there would be two other gods beside Him! The Trinity of Christianity is truly representative of the Mind of God (commonly referred to as God the Father), His Thoughts, (commonly referred to as God the Holy Spirit) and His Word (commonly referred to as God the Son). In the Gospel according to John we read: ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word (Greek: Logos) was God. He was with God in the beginning…’ The Word became flesh (in Jesus) and made his dwelling among us. (Joh 1:1,14) The context shows clearly that Jesus is God in the flesh: He was in the beginning, that means he is not created, he is eternal as God is eternal. Verse three states that through Jesus, the Word, all things were made, that means that he is God the Creator. Some people have doubted that Jesus is really called God in this verse because in the Greek language the first word for ‘God’, ‘ton theon’ is different from the second, ‘theos’.

    However in Greek it does not suggest this sort of shift in meaning. ‘This can be seen by reading other passages in the New Testament where ‘theos’ appears in the same context both with and without the definite article, yet with no change in meaning (Joh 3:2, 13:3, Rom 1:21, 1 The 1:9, Heb 9:14, 1 Pet 4:10-11).

    Whenever the word ‘theos’ is used in the same construction, it always clearly refers to the true God (Mar 12:27, Luk 20:38, Joh 8:54, Phi 2:13, Heb 11:16, ‘Why you should believe in the Trinity’, by R.M. Bowman,Jr., Baker Book House, 1993, pages 93-94)

    The ‘word’ proceeds from the ‘mind’. Both words derive their meaning from the Greek original ‘Logos’. The word ‘Logos’ has many meanings. One form ‘Logo’ gives us the English ‘logic’, which means not just ordinary speech (words), but mind expressed or intelligent expression. God created the world by His intelligent Mind, or by His Thoughts, or by His Word, all of which mean the same. For God and His mind are the same being. An example of this is when we say, ‘We solved the problem with our minds.’ Is it us who solved it or our minds? Both are essentially the same thing.

    This distinction between us and our mind is merely intellectual and does not involve separation but difference of function. Likewise, when we speak about God, His Mind of which His Thought and Word proceeds, we are not separating them, but only clarifying the issue.

    The last illustration finds support in the Quran where Jesus is called ‘a Word from God’. Surah 3, Ali ‘Imran, verse 45:

    Behold! the angels said: ‘O Mary! Allah giveth thee glad tidings of a Word from Him; his name will be Christ Jesus, the son of Mary, held in honour in this world and the Hereafter and of (the company of) those nearest to Allah;…’

    The English translation uses the relative pronoun ‘his’ to render a masculine personal pronoun in the Arabic language. Since ‘Kalima’ (Arabic for ‘word’) is in the feminine gender it becomes clear that ‘a word’ does not just mean ‘a word of language’ but a person! We also find this clarified in the sayings of one of the Muslim scholars. (‘Fusus al Hukm’, Part II, pages 13,36, by Al Shaikh Muhyi al Din al ‘Arabi)
    Source: http://www.christianityexplained.net/explainedto/muslims/11.html

    • Ryan Nelson says

      I’m not sure I understand the confusion?

      John 1:14: “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

      Hebrews 2:14–17: “Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants. For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.”

      • Brian says

        Ryan, how about this: The devil got the power of death from a man. Therefore a man was required to break that power. So, just like all children are flesh and blood, likewise Jesus is flesh and blood. For this reason, the messiah must needs be a man, a human and human only (when you are fully human, there is no room for anything else) so that he could be a high priest (surely a god would not be a priest of a god) who serves his God and atones for sin (in accordance with the precepts set up by Yahweh in the OT).

        That could likely be a little cleaner with some verbs or something, but that is the gist. Since 200ish AD this stuff has crept into the church and it causes strife, division, and schisms. Now, I wonder who would want to inject non-biblical ‘doctrine’ into the church to get people off the real heart of the matter – the Gospel of the Kingdom.

        Cheers

  28. says

    The analogy (minus the modalism) could have been more helpful in articulating the Incarnation rather than the Trinity. It could help bridge a vicious dualism many have where they believe there is an irreconcilable divide between God and creation. That is, that God cannot “invade” creation.

    If the Jesus, the Word, “writes” the story then He can also be in it…which is exactly what John 1 tells us. The Word, Who uses words, creates in such a way that there is a corresponding unity between the Author and the story; meaning the incarnation shouldn’t be viewed as a break or interruption, so to speak, but brings the story to its zenith.

    If someone is struggling with articulating the Father/Son/Spirit hypostases, Athanasius’ use of light & radiance is much more illuminating than the modalist analogy offered in this post. Not trying to be mean. I recognize that the author does believe this analogy is helpful at some level; but it is not.

  29. says

    I thoroughly enjoyed your analogy, especially the part about all the characters in a novel having some part of the author incorporated into them, like us all bearing in some way the image or likeness of God. Maybe that's why I feel that there is something of value in everyone, and that in some way even the most annoying people can be loveable.

  30. says

    I also don't like that the son character is a fiction and did not actually ever become incarnate – he was always just words on paper. Jesus was and is actually real. Sorry Ryan. I agree any sentence that starts with "God is like…" is heresy. God is unique.
    I think the best partial description of the 3 in 1 uses the fact that God the father is father and Jesus is actually God's son. In a similar way you can say that you and your son are ONE family, but you are also separate people.

    • Ryan Nelson says

      Andre you seem to be taking that analogy pretty literally. Your concerns about the son character being fictional can be put to rest by either seeing fiction as an act of creation (nothing in this world existed until God created it, either), or changing the genre to nonfiction, as in a memoir (though some would argue that loses aspects of the act of creation). Writing nonfiction is still creating a representation of yourself (though as you can see, that still lends itself to the modalism others have discussed in the comments).

      I don’t know if you noticed this, but you actually just used an analogy to explain your understanding of the incarnation, which ultimately falls into the same troubles as the analogy I discussed above: no analogy is perfect.

      Analogies draw similarities between two things—they do not eliminate the differences. Otherwise, you’d have to say “the Trinity is like the Trinity,” which doesn’t actually help anyone understand anything better.

  31. says

    David Charles it seems there is a misunderstanding about what an analogy actually is/does here. As I've said elsewhere, the expectation that an analogy could ever serve as a complete substitute for biblical explanation (rather than a supplemental tool to help people understand it) is what creates this problem. You are correct if you mean that there is no *perfect* analogy. However, analogies cannot be “perfect”—they highlight similarities, they don't eliminate differences. There is nothing in this world that exactly mirrors God, the Spirit, or Jesus, or their relationship to each other. There are, however, many relationships within creation that reflect them through shared qualities. That does not make them an exact representation anymore than us being made in the image of God makes us God. How do you balance the statement that "there is no analogy" with the fact that creation testifies to the invisible qualities of God (Romans 1:20)?

  32. says

    Ryan Nelson The issue is the title. It's not, "A unique way to describe the trinity that I've never heard before." It's, "The Best Conceptual Explanation of the Trinity I’ve Seen." The word, "Best" signifies strong approval. I don't think any orthodox Christian could approve of this explanation for all the reasons outlined above and below.

  33. says

    I would like to use what I have written here in a possible booklet for evangelism and discipleship that I am working on, please treat it with the same citation integrity extended to the blog author. It is a direct answer to the article above.

    I think we may actually need to use two analogies at the same time to explain the Trinity.

    First,
    We can draw an analogy between the human being and El Shadai as Trinity BECAUSE we were created in HIS IMAGE. And part of El Shadai's image is Trinity.

    A person is body, brain, and spirit — the brain can be damaged, but the body can be unharmed and spirit is untouched; the body can be damaged, yet the brain can be unharmed and the spirit is untouched; yet when the spirit was corrupted, the mind and body were corrupted as well.

    However, God is much greater than people, just as an artist is greater than his paintings or an author is greater than the story he is writing. While we cannot separate our body, mind, and spirit, God exists as one with three simultaneous parts — Father, Son, Spirit which can somehow operate at different places, independently, at the same time.

    This is no harder to explain than omnipresence or omnipotence, which is to say impossible to our finite minds.

    So as in the example used by Vanauken in the article above, the Father is like an author, while the Son has literally entered the story as the hero, and like a narrator, Holy Spirit is constantly working to interact with the created world and characters that really have moral identity, freedom of choice, and an everlasting future in relationship with the Author. (The Holy Spirit spoke to people the words of the Father, to tell the story of the Son, who is the hero of the story. Rather parallel to Vanauken's analogy, I think.)

    [Indwelling of the Holy Spirit is a separate consideration and I wouldn't bring it up at all at this point in a conversation with a seeker.]

    It has been said that the Bible is God's story, so I think using the analogy of an author is a good way to reach out to seekers who are not yet at Alpha to get curious and maybe they will eventually reach Omega.

    Explaining the teaching of the Trinity is extremely difficult since the Bible doesn't give us a straight forward explanation — and the Western church has divided over this because we insist on playing by rules of Greek logic and holding El Shadai accountable to the rules of logic. But El Shaddai is not bound by logic, he created logic and transcends logic. Just as He is supernatural, He is also superlogical.

    So the charges of modalism, arianism, etc. can be partially answered by opening the analogy with,
    "Analogies are limited, but here's the best answer I have. . . . "
    And concluding with
    "God is greater than any human being and has always existed as Author, Hero, and Narrator simultaneously."

    The worst thing for us to do would be to remain silent or give excuses about why we cannot explain a doctrine of the church that is clearly drawn from the Biblical texts. To avoid answering a question by making excuses is tantamount to not answering at all. Instead of avoiding the question, an honest "I don't know how to explain it, but let me show you a few verses where we get it from" would be a better strategy.

    Vanauken has tried to answer an unanswerable question, and I am greatful to the blog author for bringing it into my study. I hope that my answer has been gentle and respectful to all parties.

    "Always be ready to give an answer for the hope which you have, but do so with gentleness and respect."

  34. says

    This is probably weak, but: every human(not the time to discuss animals also) is a trinity.
    Every person is practically and genetically part of their Mother and their Father. The result of the union is an amazing alchemic person which changes two separate persons into a three person family. So, now there is this single"family" which is three unique persons, but still a single family.

  35. says

    But doesn't that just add to the confusion that is the trinity? If the sone is God and that is visible and the Father is God and that is ultraviolet (invisible), then God is both visible and invisible. Isn't the truth much simpler?

    The son is visible because he is a human being. God is invisible because he is a spirit. Unless God comes into some concrete (five senses) manifestation, He is invisible. If God appears as a burning, then God is visible (to a point). But, of course, God is not a bush, fire, a bush on fire …

    Haven't you ever heard that cute saying – I'd rather see a sermon than hear one? Don't just talk it, walk it? That is pretty close to – the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. Jesus always did the will of the Father. In case it is unclear, the will of teh Father can also be called 'the Word of God'. Would any Christian attempt to say that jesus is the will of God? I don't think so. But the will of God is the word of God. When God wanted light, God said, 'let there be light.' So, when Jesus is putting in practice the will of God (which he always has and always will) – he is the Word (of God) in teh flesh. A living, breathing (man) exemplifying God's will. Because of his stand, faith, sacrifice, God highly exhulted him and gave him a name abover every name. God glorified him, and set him at His own right hand, above all principality, power, might , dominion. Jesus is exaulted above all, but it is accepted, that he is not exaulted above God (1 Cor 15:27).

  36. says

    Unfortunately, while Vanauken put a lot of thought into his analogy, it doesn't describe the Trinity at all. Instead, it only accurately explains his flawed conception of the Trinity. The best answers always come from the whole counsel of God's Word, and John 17:11 sheds light here; "And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one." Christ wanted the unity he has with the Father to be lived out among believers. Enmeshment is not a picture of healthy relationships, but cooperation is. When we get to be the same person, we are dysfunctional. When we are united in purpose and in thought and in character, we are unbelievably strong. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are the best picture of this oneness–the oneness Christ wanted his believers to share.

  37. says

    Athanasian Creed is what you need, not another analogy.

    Now this is the catholic faith:

    That we worship one God in trinity and the trinity in unity,
    neither blending their persons
    nor dividing their essence.
    For the person of the Father is a distinct person,
    the person of the Son is another,
    and that of the Holy Spirit still another.
    But the divinity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is one,
    their glory equal, their majesty coeternal.

    What quality the Father has, the Son has, and the Holy Spirit has.
    The Father is uncreated,
    the Son is uncreated,
    the Holy Spirit is uncreated.

    The Father is immeasurable,
    the Son is immeasurable,
    the Holy Spirit is immeasurable.

    The Father is eternal,
    the Son is eternal,
    the Holy Spirit is eternal.

    And yet there are not three eternal beings;
    there is but one eternal being.
    So too there are not three uncreated or immeasurable beings;
    there is but one uncreated and immeasurable being.

    Similarly, the Father is almighty,
    the Son is almighty,
    the Holy Spirit is almighty.
    Yet there are not three almighty beings;
    there is but one almighty being.

    etc.

  38. says

    By the time one gets through qualifying and explaining all of the problems in any analogy, there really isn't much of that analogy left that says anything useful.

    In my opinion, analogies actually do far more harm than good. Because they are easier to grasp with the mind than the reality (which, let's admit, is franlkly beyond our human understanding), they tend to become a sort of mental substitute for that reality, or at least a grid through which the real doctrine of the Trinity is viewed, regardless of how Scripture has been brought to bear. It can be very difficult for even the Christian to "shed fhe former, weaker systems of understanding".

    Also, it would seem that passages such as Is. 40:18 ("To whom then will you liken God? Or what likeness will you compare with Him?") argue against using any kind of analogy when speaking about God, unless God, Himself, has used it in the Scriptures.

  39. says

    I don't believe this is meant to make a modalistic approach, but rather try (as impossible as it is) to explain this very difficult concept in an analogous manner. There are dangers to every explanation as we can never fully and perfectly explain the mysteries of God; they are, after all, mysteries. However we also learn that Jesus loved telling parables to explain difficult aspects of God's being, our faith, and many other things.

    As long as the lesson carries the caveat "this is not a perfect metaphor, it is just an attempt at explaining this topic…" I see no offense. When you teach it as absolute truth, you get into heretical teaching.

    Sure, we can all be cop-outs and just say "It's God, take it or leave it," but that tends to be an unloving approach to bring people to the loving God. We are all tainted in our understanding of the bible, through life experiences, culture, and instruction. To boldly assume we have everything right is arrogance, and we should learn that humility is more important. God showed us humility, and He never had to.

    We try to understand things through comparisons to what we see. As long as we take those comparisons as philosophical rather than theological there is no problem. We all struggle to understand; God wouldn't have given us Christ if He wanted truly blind followers.

  40. says

    I don't believe this is meant to make a modalistic approach, but rather try (as impossible as it is) to explain this very difficult concept in an analogous manner. There are dangers to every explanation as we can never fully and perfectly explain the mysteries of God; they are, after all, mysteries. However we also learn that Jesus loved telling parables to explain difficult aspects of God's being, our faith, and many other things.

    As long as the lesson carries the caveat "this is not a perfect metaphor, it is just an attempt at explaining this topic…" I see no offense. When you teach it as absolute truth, you get into heretical teaching.

    Sure, we can all be cop-outs and just say "It's God, take it or leave it," but that tends to be an unloving approach to bring people to the loving God. We are all tainted in our understanding of the bible, through life experiences, culture, and instruction. To boldly assume we have everything right is arrogance, and we should learn that humility is more important. God showed us humility, and He never had to.

    We try to understand things through comparisons to what we see. As long as we take those comparisons as philosophical rather than theological there is no problem. We all struggle to understand; God wouldn't have given us Christ if He wanted truly blind followers.

  41. says

    I think that ultimately any analogy we try to use will fail because it cannot exactly depict the unity of three-in-one: being one in essence while simultaneously being three distinct persons. I believe the short simple statement that there is "not exact example but a similarity" to the Triunity is sufficient – whether you use body, soul, spirit; three corners or sides of a triange; or the shell, white, and yolk. The BEST explanation is to use Scripture demonstrating the unity of being but distinctness of person found in the Scriptures.

  42. says

    When one starts to make comparisons to God, they are theological by nature. God had revealed Himself to us in His Son. If we want to know "what God is like",we need to look to Christ. It was Jesus Himself who said "Have I been with you so long…whoever has seen me has seen the Father". Scripture also declares, He is the exact representation of His nature.
    To boldly declare "God is holy" is not arrogance, it's truth. Yes, it can be done by someone who is arrogant, but it doesn't necessitate arrogance.

  43. Juli Baldridge says

    I appriciate what Ryan is trying to convey here. One of the most annoying things I can recall before I came to Christ as an adult was how many Christians for some reason assumed when they were talking to me that I had some basic understanding of the biblical accounts, concepts, or doctines they were attempting to share with me. I did not attend church nor was religion part of my upbringing in any meaningful way. I needed real life examples to even begin to relate to how the Christian belief system or Christ applied to my life in general (of course along with God’s Word). An example would be that the Bible alone did not tell me how to get off the streets and change my life, it was a precious soul who made the teachings of Christ manifest in a practical way I could understand(her life was the analogy to God’s Word) even though she was not perfect. I wholeheartedly agree that any human analogy is imperfect and will fall short, but you learn that as you study God’s Word and grow in your relationship with Him. Personally I use the egg example, but I really like the universe explanation. Disappointingly I find that many of the criticisms come across as though Ryan is presenting this analogy as Christian dogma to unbelievers. Lord continue to bless and help Ryan be a bridge for the unbelieving world no matter how imperfect.

    • Jeff Marshall says

      The “Terrible” in these post’s is describing the infinite God in finite terms as person or persons. Man has aways tried to explain God in his own terms thus leading to the term Trinity.

  44. Jeff Marshall says

    The “Terrible” in these post’s is describing the infinite God in finite terms as person or persons. Man has aways tried to explain God in his own terms thus leading to the term Trinity.

  45. says

    Scott Ross I can understand that. But I also hope you recognize the difference between saying "The Best You've Ever Seen" or "The Best There Is" and "The Best I've Seen." It would be completely inaccurate to say "A unique way . . . I've never heard before" because I first read this book years ago, and I've used this analogy in many conversations about the Trinity and the incarnation since then.

    Again, while I do believe it's the best conceptual explanation I've seen (because I can let go of the fact that analogies are, by their very nature, imperfect), that does not mean it's the best you've seen, and I would encourage you, and anyone else who takes issue with my exposure to methods of conceptually explaining the Trinity, to please share the best you have seen.

    Think about how valuable these comments could be if everyone simply shared the best explanations they've seen.

    I understand that you don't think an orthodox Christian could approve of the explanation, but I still believe the problem with "the problem of using analogies" is a misunderstanding of what analogies are, how they function, and how they are used. This is obviously not the only thing I say to people who ask me about the Trinity. It is, however, one of the things that has led me to have the most productive conversations who don't believe in it—which is why I'm still perfectly comfortable calling it "the best I've seen" even as I accept that it is imperfect.

  46. says

    I don't know that I would say ANY time you start a sentence with "God is like," you've crossed into heresy. Else, the gospel writers would be heretics for saying that the Spirit of God descended like a dove.

  47. says

    I can see how an author could come upon this analogy. The part that worries me is when the Bible is called a story because we live in a generation of words and labels. I worry for many, Jesus is just a nice Christmas story, so I try to refrain from that particular term in descriptions (though, I'm no where near perfect and I've done it).

    I struggled with this question very recently. A person I met who is a philosophy major asked me two questions. 1) Why do you believe God exists 2) How do you explain the triune. At the time, I felt all the wind suck out of me…….how can I (ME) explain such a complex thing to this person. I've never been to college. I'm a simple homemaker. I knew I couldn't possibly convince this person.

    My first answer, to me, is even more complicated than the second and yet as simple as I believe God exists, because I am. I could sit for hours telling you stories of how God saved me from death twice. Or how he was with me when I was homeless as a teenager. Or how when all doctors said I would never have children – I gave birth to 2 two beautiful, healthy children. But it all comes back to, I believe because I am.

    On the second, my analogy is this: I see the Triune as a sort of corporation. God, head of the corporation, being the creator and power over all things. The Holy Spirit being equal partner, communications expert and guide. Jesus, the Son, equal partner, held above all others. Most companies never see anyone from corporate, but they hear from them regularly. All rules and regulations come from corporate. All designs and decisions are made through corporate. They are One they are triune. One entity. Yet 3 separate beings.

    I don't think it's wrong to use analogies to help someone visualize or better understand something that can seem too immensely complicated – even beyond comprehension. Jesus seemed to realize not all people understood things the same way. Some people he sat and had great intense discussions with them. Some he told parables.

    I think the most important thing is to have the discussions………we are all still learning or we wouldn't be here……….

  48. Chee Liow says

    The best analogy I heard was one told to me about 30 years ago – not an analogy of the Trinity, but an analogy of how our mind cannot comprehend in full the many mysteries of God, the Trinity included. I use this analogy quite often now to help others accept things that are difficult to comprehend (e.g. the incommunicable attributes of God).

    “We live in a 3-dimensional world – length, breadth and height. 4 dimensions if you want to include time. Imagine a world where there’re only 2 dimensions. Everything is only length and breadth. There’s no height/depth. Hence, everything appears as a line to a ‘flat-man’ living in flat-land.

    Imagine a flat-man (using a coin to represent the flat-man) living in flat-land. One day, a pencil comes along (holding a pencil in the air). Pencil says to “flat-man”, “Hi Flat-man”. Flat-man replies,” Hi. I hear you but I don’t see you. Where are you?” Pencil replies, “I’m above you.” Flat-man replies, “Above? What’s that?” Flat-man has no concept of depth/height and cannot comprehend. Pencil says, “OK. I guess I’ll just have to land on flat-land so you can see me.” Pencil touches surface where flat-man is. Flat man says, “Oh, I see! You’re not very big are you? You’re just a point!” (pencil tip touches surface, flat-man only sees in 2 dimensions, ie a point.” Pencil replies, “Oh no. I’m much bigger than that. I’m actually very tall.” Flat-man replies, “Tall??? What’s that?”

    We live in a 3/4 dimensional world. God is multi-dimensional (or infinitely dimensional – we don’t know). Hence, there are things that goes beyond our comprehension – like the many incommunicable attributes of God. All our analogies to attempt to explain these attributes may give us some understanding but will all fall short of the reality of how wonderful He truly is.

  49. says

    Great analogy! A lot of the comments sounds religious on so many different levels. The true essence of God is being missed. God is who He is. The great I Am. But when you think of His goodness, He is like. It is not calling Him something else, it is not comparing Him. He is like is just an explanation of the effects of God's expressions.

  50. says

    The only Biblical reference to the Trinity that exists throughout the Bible alludes to the Truth that God is One but also that God is NOT distinct in the three persons of the Trinity. Scripture reveals this and makes it clear to those who can accept this.

    In other words, the three beings of God that are in existence throughout history are the same and One so that God's kingdom can be defined as being all in all through the righteousness of His Word. Through the Gospel, God has given us the Knowledge of Himself through Faith, the Wisdom of Himself through Hope, and the Understanding of Himself through Love.

    There are many variants of this through various religions and mystic interpretations of spirituality and the Universe BUT only the Word can bring to light the revelation of God to us through Himself in the reality of a relationship by and through love, completely through the righteousness of His Word towards our salvation in His love for all that He has created that was once lost through the darkness of evil and sin rooted in the unrighteousness of the devil.

    God through His Wisdom saved His Creation by being the One that bears all knowledge of all things, making everything right by subjecting all things to His Son who is Lord over all by the Holy Spirit so that the Spirit of God that created all things in the beginning would be manifested through the Son in His incarnation as the Word become Flesh and then poured out as the Holy Spirit that creates all things predestined for the New World in the end. Through knowledge, wisdom and understanding, God is all in all as One by and through the Word.

    Believers will seek the attainment of the fullness of being baptized in the Name of God otherwise known as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit by which we are brought as His Creation to the unity of the faith and revelation of the One and Only, Jesus Christ in order to fulfill the Great Commision.

    "Has Christ been divided?…For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not in cleverness of speech, so that the cross of Christ would not be made void." 1 Corinthians 1:13,17

    "If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also." John 14:3

  51. says

    As Dr. James White aptly pointed out in his book, The Forgotten Trinity, the problem is that people confuse the terms 'being' and 'person.' They seem to believe that because THEY can only be one person and one being then God must also conform to that.

    A great book about the Trinity; certianly one worth reading :)
    http://www.amazon.com/Forgotten-Trinity-James-R-White/dp/1556617259/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1446835877&sr=8-1&keywords=the+forgotten+trinity

  52. says

    Who/what says people can only be one person, one being? Is that written anywhere? or is that just Platonic philosophy? Who says God is more than one person, one being? Certainly not God. – Hear Israel, Yahweh is your God, Yahweh is one. The only thing God must conform to is His Word. The only book that is really worth reading is God's Word. That will explain all you need to know about God. Greek philosophy has brought incredible error into the Christian church. As Paul wrote (as inspired by God) "if anyone preaches another Gospel, let him be acursed …". Paul never preached more than one God, Jesus never preached that he was God or that God was more than one. Jesus knows full well that his is not God. In fact, Phil ch 2 explains that Christ did not attempt to seize (or grasp) at being God.

    – Cheers

  53. says

    Brian Gauthier read John 8. Jesus claimed to be I AM, a direct reference to Yahweh in Ex 3:15. John 1:1 where Jesus, the Word, is identified as Yahewy. Paul gives several Trinitarian formulas in his writings, as does Peter. Peter Identifies the Holy Spirtit as God. The Greek word used for 'Lord' is the same used in the LXX to identity Yahewh.

    Your Php 2 context is grossly misrepresented. Read the entire passage: <i>Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped</i>

    Paul states that Jesus was God, but emptied Himself. Dozens of Scripture attest to the Deity of Jesus as Yahweh.

    My friend, you are the one in error. And yes, you are preaching another gospel. As long as God is still convicting you, you have time to repent of your sins and trust Christ.

  54. says

    This is not the Trinity. This is some wierd mixture of Modalims, Arianism, and Panentheism.

    1) The So is not just a character IN the story, but eternal God outside the story. The Father doesn't enter creation and become the Son… the idea that the Father "wrote" the Son is arianism, and the idea that the Father IS the Son or became the Son in creation is Modalism.

    2) "We all have something of God in us—God’s spirit" – This is panentheism.

    This is litterally the worst explanation I've ever read of the Trinity.

  55. says

    What is the fundamental thing that Space, Mass, and Time share? The Father, Son, and Spirit share a single nature, what do Space, Mass, and Time share?

    Also, it seems to me that Mass exists within Space and Time… but Time does not exist within Mass, nor does Space… it seems to me that although Space and Time may be fundamentally the same (at least if you believe General Relativity) that Mass if fundamentally different.

  56. says

    Still the best explanation of the Trinity for me is a Family:
    They all have the same Last name: God
    But they are seperate individuals. Mother, Father, Children.
    God the Father, = Father God
    God the Son, = Son God
    and God the Holy Spirit, = Holy Spirit God

    The second point is that we do not know everything, only what God has revealed to us, so "We don't even know what we don't know". Deut 29:29

    When we talk to unbelievers our first job is to teach them the authority (Power) of the scriptures and their origin, and to build their faith in them. Prophecy is the best way to do this because only God can know the future 100%. Then they will have faith in the rest of the scriptures. Isa 46:9-10; Isa 48:3-5; Isa 41:21-23

  57. says

    Good analogy, but I think it shows better that Jesus is the almighty God made flesh. Jesus is the father in creation, Son in redemption, and the Holy Spirit in regeneraton. These three are one. Someone may ask how could he be all three, maybe a better question would be how could he be the First and the Last, the beginning and the ending. I don't understand how God is God and how he is able to fill all roles maybe that is why he is called the I Am.

  58. says

    The best analogy I have ever seen about the trinity doesn't even come from a theologian and the person most definitely was not trying to explain the trinity. The analogy comes from Gene Rodenbery's TV show Andromeda.

    The title character of the show is a starship named Andromeda. However, Andromeda is not just the starship, it is also the android that accompanies the captain on away missions and the hologram that appears all over the ship, often times in multiple places at once, talking to the crew. Whether Andromeda is the starship, the android, or the hologram, it consistently considers itself Andromeda. At one point the android is on an away mission with the captain on another ship and it gets frustrated with the situation. The Android makes the statement "I am a warship not a diplomat. I blow things up not try to talk a bunch of polititians into doing what I want. Can we blow a couple of them up?" This shows that Andromeda, even though it is in the form of the android, still considers itself the starship.

    In another episode all three title characters are standing in a corridor having a discussion together trying to come up with a solution to a problem the ship and crew are having. That I thought was a really remarkable scene. You can see that all three characters are independent of each other, but at the same time they are the same person, Andromeda.

    Each character called Andromeda has different things it does, but all three are constantly in unity and working for the betterment of the mission. It is also interesting that each one of the characters called Adromeda are constanly aware of what the other is doing even if they are light years apart and the android can even call on the power of the warship Andromeda at a moments notice, no previous authorization required. After all, the android is the warship and vise versa.

    Just my 2 cents.

    Timothy Pintello

  59. Andrew says

    Not a good explanation at all, a ground for breeding heresy for those who embraced on such thinking. The Trinity simply exist together at the same time, as evident when Jesus Christ was baptized by John. Why can’t we just accept God’s revelation as is??

  60. says

    I am doing my Doctoral work related to the Trinity. God left us grand pictures of the Trinity by necessary conditions and the Theophanies. There must be personhood of persons, distinction of persons, and diety of persons. Theophanies provide this picture. God visits, speak, implents/makes in the Hebrew scriptures,

  61. Robert Davey says

    While I agree that the Biblical text must come first, I fail to see the issue with analogy. In fact the Bible is full of analogy from beginning to end. The prophets, and John, as well as other writers, frequently used “like” or “as” in their struggle to relate their encounters with God and the heavenly beings, to their intended audiences (see visions of Ezekiel, Jeremiah, and John (in The Revelation)). Christ described himself by means of many “I am’s” … light, way, truth, etc., all of which are analogies. The human mind is totally incapable of truly getting around all that God is, and so in awe, and humility we vainly try to understand and capture our understanding in inadequate language. Paul tells us that now we see only dimly, but then we will see face to face, implying that only after we depart from this worldly existence will we truly be able to say we understand .. for now we must be satisfied with our limited understanding, and our limited ability to relate that to others … nevertheless, an important and critical task of the believer.

  62. says

    Tony Arsenal thanks for the dialogue. I completely understand your critique, and as I've said elsewhere, it's important to recognize that analogies only highlight similarities—they cannot eliminate differences. Otherwise else we'd say "the Trinity is like the Trinity", which isn't an analogy, and doesn't help anyone understand anything about the Trinity (unless you mean to say it is so incomparable that you simply have to accept it, which would be fair). The purpose of such an explanation is to allow people to see the same thing in a new light. It takes something which has no equivalent in our world and draws comparisons so that you can begin to understand it.

    As I understand from your follow up post, the greatest frustration you have with the post is the title, which I can also understand. But wouldn't it be more constructive to the conversation to simply share a better conceptual explanation? I'd love to hear the best explanation you've encountered. What do you share with unbelievers who see the Trinity as a road block on their way to faith?

    I appreciate your insight.

  63. says

    Ryan Nelson Well, not to be too harsh, but my greatest frustration is not just the post title. My greatest frustration is that rather than approach this recognizing its obvious failings, it was approached as an example of not only a good analogy… but a great analogy.

    The analogies we should use are the ones given in Scripture. The Father has a Son and Spirit. The Son is begotten of the Father in a way that is analogous to how we are begotten of our fathers. The Spirit proceeds from the Father in a way that is analogous to how our breath proceeds from us.

    This is the foundation of the Nicene Creed, and honestly to hold this up as an example of a good analogy has me deeply concerned. There are many who read this blog who are pastors and look to Faithlife for help in preparing their sermons. How many pulpits will this analogy (which puts forward at least three distinct heretical positions, perhaps four if you count Harnackian liberalism) make its way into beacuse of this lack of discernment?

    As far as your question: When I explain the Trinity to anyone (unbeleivers or believers) I begin by explaining the terminology that the Church has adopted and what it means. I then explain how those terms function in creatures (one nature = one person). Once they understand how those terms function in creatures, I explain the ways we understand the divine persons and the divine nature they share to be different. Where as in creatures a single nature is only ever possessed by a single person, but the divine nature being infinte is fully possessed by three distinct persons.

    While they may not agree with that or understand it at first, it is what the Church has explicitly taught for 1700 years

  64. says

    Tony Arsenal Thank you, Thank you. You are right many pastors will see and use this analogy. Too often good men, godly men, learned men looking to help others write and post—this medium makes it easy, but easy is not always correct—yes it happens way too often and on this Logos front page.

  65. says

    Gregory of Nazianzus, 4th-century Archbishop of Constantinople explained that the oneness of God is in His substance. He uses the analogy of many gold coins on a table, then says we wouldn't refer to them as "golds," but gold. Though in many pieces, sizes and shapes, they share the same substance: gold. All the attributes of God, such as omnipotence, omniscience, righteousness, holiness, etc. are found in the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit. In that way, they are unified in substance though numerous in persons. Another example is humanity: we often refer to "man" in the singular. For example, one might say that "man has been to the moon." We're not saying that one, and only one person with a name and address has been to the moon, but the collective term for all the ones who have gone there, along with all who were behind that effort, is singular: man. There are 6-7+ billion persons on earth, but there is only one species of man. Theoretically, I suppose there could have been any number of persons who posess all the attributes of God, but Scripture makes it clear that there are only three: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. In discussing the Trinity, (we can never really explain it), we need to distinguish between persons and substance. The very word Trinity is a shortened form of tri-unity; three who share a common substance, and are therefore unified. I close with a quip from the late Adrian Rogers: "The Trinity: understand it and you'll lose your mind; deny it and you'll lose your soul."

  66. Michael Fisch says

    Wayne Grudem uses the equal lateral triangle.

    1 cubed

    Jesus said the 2 shall become one flesh

    the Church is many member in one body.

  67. says

    My question is, why can’t we teach it like Jesus did? “God is Spirit” (John 4:24). When we don’t establish God for who He is we end up accepting this fallacy that God is three persons. We then spend all this time trying to justify and to convince people against reason that God is really three persons when the Shema declares that He is One Lord. We have been duped by the devil in Christendom. The Lord warned that many would come in His name, saying that He is Christ and would deceive many. MANKIND HAS MADE A GREAT ERROR, NOT UNDERSTANDING THAT THE PRINCIPLES OF HEAVEN ARE DIFFERENT FROM THOSE ON EARTH. God does not exist in the box that the “many” in Christendom has placed Him in. The limitations of time, space and dimension does not apply to God. These are earthen concepts. If we truly believe in the omnipresence of God, we would not make Him three, but omnipresence is foreign to earthlings. There are many who, that if you were to ask them if the believe in the omnipresence of God that they would tell you yes, but they immediately return to their human thinking and do not apply this attribute to God. You cannot fully understand God unless you can understand that God’s omnipresent Spirit fills all. He is Father up in Heaven and Son in earth undivided. Did I say “undivided?” Yes I did. By the same token His “Holy Spirit” indwells His believers and we stupidly want to make Him a so called “Second Person” of the trinity. We need to stop this blasphemy. We need to renew or minds and then we will see how misguided the participants of Nicaea were. We have built upon this falsehood and teach it for doctrine. Neither side at Nicaea knew the heavenly or spiritual meaning of the terms “begotten” and “made.” Yet we have triumphed in the victory of one side. We have received only the human definition, not heaven’s. We are lost until we can grasp “heavenly things. “As an apostle, I pray for the Spirit of Jeremiah to arise in these last days to uproot all the doctrines of devils established in the churches. We should have listened “taken heed” to the warnings of Jesus in Matthew 24:4-5. This is exactly why the Jews will never see the light through us, when we teach that their God is three persons. I decree that this demonic stronghold of Trinitarian teachings come down. I am not afraid, I have declared war on this devil that has sat so comfortable for 1700 years and so I am not afraid of man. Too many people has been deceived by this “prince of Roma.” Renew your mind and Christ shall give you light.

  68. Jackie says

    I like to tell people that we are body soul and spirit. We are made in the image of God. This three fold person that we are is similar. Our body is not our soul our soul not our spirit yet they are each still us both separately and together. That’s how I understand it

  69. says

    This illustration is helpful in that it describes the relationship between two ontological levels. We can see things like, how a human author can condescend into is ontologically lower story, or how a human author could be sovereign over ever aspect of his story, and yet his characters have free-will within their own ontological level. The illustrations weakness, of course is that God is ontologically higher than us, that is to say, he is holy. The illustration shows our level and below – but does not describe any higher levels – which, of course, no illustration can do.

    That said, we can ourselves condescend to lower ontological levels and look back up to get at least an idea of the gulf between levels. For instance, the time-space of characters in our stories is literally ink and paper to the author/reader. Of course, I’m not suggesting that we are actually in a story book, only that the vast time space of our universe is as crude as ink and paper to the holiness of God – and even that comparison is exponentially weak – but perhaps you can get the idea. Still plenty of mystery – but maybe also a platform to observe it from.

    I think it is important to understand philosophical ontological aspects of God’s holiness, otherwise, we can be tempted to think of God as we are. Why can’t the Flying Spaghetti Monster be God? Because FSM is on the same ontological level as we are. It is different than us, to be sure, but it is not holy, which is to say, ontologically higher.

    BTW – now that you understand God as ontologically higher, take another look at Westminster 3:1: “God from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass; yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures; nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.” Starts to make sense…

  70. says

    Edwards on the Trinity: He explained Jesus as God's imagining Himself so strongly that His thoughts begat another Person. This imagining existed from the beginning; He's never NOT had these thoughts. And the love He expresses for this Person is so strong it is another Person, the Spirit. I cannot find *any* flaw with this analogy, and it works very well into his concepts, better explained in Piper, of Christian hedonism. The God of the Bible clearly enjoys God as is evidenced by the massive number of praises inspired to be written about Himself. This enjoyment would seem to demand the existence of the Trinity. Only the Christian's God could be so logically complete.

  71. says

    God the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit have always been a part of the Story because the Story has no beginning or ending. It is God's story and we are the ones that were created and written into His story. To me this just means that portions of Jesus and the Spirits story is Earth bound. Am I seeing something wrong? I find it to be an interesting and thought provoking way to put it. Something my students are learning is story structure in school think this could help them brilliantly.

  72. says

    Interesting analogy, I dont know much about Modalism, but for a simple understanding of how three can be one, whats wrong with a loving family unit? Lets call it the Jonses family. Father Jones, Mother Jones and Son Jones. They each have their roles as seperate people but all make up the ONE family. They connect with each other intimatley and serve each other selflessly.
    Could also use a football team analogy with three main positions.
    Just a thought.

  73. says

    There is one God. The word God is a title. In Isaiah,it is written… I am God and there is none beside me. Read 1 Timothy 3:16 says; He was in the world and the world was made by Him.
    God was manifested in the flesh. Gabriel said to Mary; the Holy Spirit will come upon you and you will conceive.
    There is one Spirit. If God a Spirit, then who is the Holy Spirit? Can He be seperate from God? Can there be two spirits? The Holy Spirit is God…. Jesus said; God is a Spirit, and those that worship Him, must worship Him in Spirit and in truth.
    Jesus said; no one knows the father, except the son and no one knows the son except the father and to whom the father reveals this to.
    You can't figure it out with common sense. All spiritual truth is revelation from God.
    It was God, it is God and He will alwasy be God and He can manifest Himself and become anything he desires to be. God was the Father, He became the son and is the Holy spirit…

  74. Louis says

    Ryan thanks for the effort and for stimulating thought and conversation. However, I would take this article down as quickly as possible if I were you, the comments that some people made that a Logos front page article has a massive reach to thousands of people is true, and it seems even you realise some serious issues with it. Biblical teaching on implications of that is so so scary: James 3:1, Matthew 18:6.

  75. says

    Wow, I feel so much more enlightened after reading these comments and the comments about comments. However the author's inquiring friend is mostly correct Christian do "stand… not hide" behind the mysteries of God and HIS creation. It is meant to be a mystery. Don't you need a God whose ways are higher than your's I sure do, and so does everyone else in the world. Most people just do not understand that the mystery they resist is connected to the power that will forever change their lives once they choose to accept the drawing of the Father to believe in the Son and be filed with the Holy Spirit.

  76. says

    Agree that the Athanasian Creed is more descriptive here and avoids some issues with analogies. However, I still see this creed (and scripture) as partially being described by the following analogy:

    Consider a unique and wonderful species (one essence). This species always has, only has, and only will have three persons (three persons). Each person is fully this unique and wonderful species yet each person is distinct.

    If you prefer a software analogy, consider a C++ class that itself has no inheritance and has only three instantiations. Each instantiation is fully that class possessing all the member functions and properties for that class.

  77. says

    “O People of the Scripture! Do not exceed the limits in your religion, nor say of Allah except the truth. Al-Maseeh Eesa, son of Maryam, was (no more than) a Messenger of Allah and His Word, which He bestowed on Maryam and a spirit from (created by Him). So believe in Allah and His Messengers. Say not: “Three!“ Cease! (it is) better for you. For Allah is (the only) One God, glorified is He above having a son. To Him belongs all that is in the heavens and all that is in the earth. And Allah is All-Sufficient as a Disposer of affairs.” (Qur’an Surah An-Nisa, ayah 171)

    “Surely, they have disbelieved who say: “Allah is the third of three.” And there is no god but One God (Allah). And if they cease not from what they say, verily, a painful torment will befall on the disbelievers among them.” (Qur’an Surah Al-Maidah, ayah 73)

  78. Nathan says

    All of these clumsy attempts to explain the trinity betray the real truth: God is not a trinity. There is the Father, and His Son, who is God. And that is it. Accept that and the confusion ends, and the bible becomes clear. Also look up some Greek. The HE and the WHOM of John 14 thru 16 could easily be translated IT or WHICH.

  79. says

    https://www.facebook.com/yianni.vonakis,

    I appreciate your passion but what you are expressing is modalism (see link below), which has come up short of the truth and is thus a heresy. Assuming you are right…

    1. If what you say is true, then God is a liar and His Word is not true.
    2. If what you say is true, then God changes according to humanities needs.
    3. If God changes according to the needs of humanity, then He is reactive, unsteady and not trustworthy.
    4. Therefore, why would we need God if we already have those attributes of change?

    God is unchanging. He does not become anything or anyone. He is who He is.

    "But You are the same, And Your years will not come to an end." Psalm 102:27
    "For I, the LORD, do not change; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed." Malachi 3:6
    "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." Hebrews 13:8
    "If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself." 2 Timothy 2:13

    Respectfully,
    Jeffrey Luna

    http://www.theopedia.com/modalism

  80. says

    Jno 1:1-3;14–In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God-The same was with God-All things were made by Him and without him was not anything made that was made–10-He was in the world and the world was made by Him and the world knew Him not-v 14: And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us [and we beheld His glory,the glory as of the Only begotten of the Father ] full of grace and truth…If this does not exlain that Jesus/Yeshua/God are the same and Not 3 different beings–the may be some one is dense…

  81. says

    And does not the Bible tells us in Acts 2:38–to be baptized in the NAME OF-[name,being singular ,not plural] Father,Son & Holy Ghost/Spirit are NOT Names–but are rather Titles !

  82. says

    The trinity is just like 3-in-1 coffee… You may use instant coffee, and add milk, and then add sugar–then you get your cup of coffee. All the 3 ingredients are basically different but once you put them together, you get a single entity (your cup of coffee). All three ingredients are still present and yet cannot be separated from one another. It's just like our 3-in-1 God.

  83. says

    The Athanasian Creed was what I needed to confirm the way I have been preparing to teach the Trinity to my AWANA Large Group (1-6th graders) Even though the Trinity is a mystery this is an ok analogy, no analogy is going to really cut it. I have a large sheet of paper. I show the paper, I ask "Is this one, whole sheet of paper, it's not pieces of paper taped together is it? So it was made as this one whole sheet from the beginning?" This is called UNITY. Ok, let's fold it into thirds, Just like you would in school, if the teacher needed you to make different sections for different uses.Ok, it's in thirds. Is it still one sheet of paper, nothing has been added or taken away, it's the original sheet? It's still ONE. Let's label it." In the first third I put God, in the second third I put Son, in the last third I put Holy Spirit. Then we list the ATTRIBUTES of all of them: Uncreated, co-eternal, immeasureable, almighty & majestic. Then we list FUNCTIONS of each one to put in their distinct section, but reminding the kids that it is STILL one sheet of paper. They are of one mind, one spirit, but manifested in different ways according to God's purposes. I will also have all the scriptures printed that confirm the what the Word says about each of these things. They have already memorized so many of them, it will be easier for them to grasp.

  84. says

    The way I read this, the explanation given is to the question of how Jesus could be both fully God and fully man. That's a question about the Hypostatic union, really, and not about the Trinity. Likewise, the analogy is better suited to explaining the Hypostatic Union, than it is at explaining the Trinity.

  85. says

    Doesn't seem very biblical. He's the good shepherd, the prince of peace, the vine, the gardener, like a hen who gathers chicks under her wing etc etc. Plenty of metaphors for God in the bible. They don't have to limit him, of course in his mercy he limits himself so that we might be able to know him.

  86. says

    Tony Arsenal, mass is the illusion or the appearance created by both. When you break it all down, mass is really tiny vibrations of energy. You can see now how they all create one reality. This is a perfect analogy.

  87. says

    I think you're referring to Matthew 28:19 – "Name" is singular. But grammatically, it is not necessary for "name" to be plural, as the prepositional phrase "and of the" preceding each person joins each to the "name." To say "names of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" would mean that each has more than one name, which is not the point Jesus was making. Had He said "Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit," that would have made Oneness debate more plausible. But that's not what He said. The prepositional phrase makes a stronger case for the Trinitarian concept, as it distinguishes each person, each with their own "name". And, BTW, the prepositional phrase is in the Greek, as well.

    Biblically, the word "name" refers not just to a name, like Bob or Jane, but also to "the manifestation or revelation of someone's character," which could also include a title, such as "Father," "Son," and "Holy Spirit," each of which reveals something of the character of each.

  88. Calvin says

    How about trinity in the person who time travel back to the future, where he meets himself of the past and the future. With the theory of the same world and history, not parallel universe.

  89. Enoch says

    .
    God is not a Trinity. Man is not a trinity. From Taylor’s book:
    .
    According to the Word of God, God formed Man’s body from the dust of the ground, breathed God’s breath of life (spirit) into Man’s body, and Man came alive, became a living soul; that is, Body + Spirit = Soul. Genesis 2:7 shows that The Trinity is a false doctrine. The Trinity, or any trinity, has 3 equal parts. This equation accurately reflects Genesis 2:7, and it demonstrates that body, spirit, and soul are not 3 equal parts. This equation says that body and spirit are two parts each by itself, but the soul is not a part by itself, for the soul is dependent on the other two parts, body + spirit. Can a body exist by itself? Yes. Can a spirit exist by itself? Yes. Can a soul exist by itself? No. A soul needs both body and spirit in order to come into existence, as this verse explicitly says.
    .
    Copyright © 2016-2017 Arthur Rain Taylor. All Rights Reserved.
    Body, Spirit, Soul – An Exposition of Genesis 2:7
    ISBN-10:0-9985753-1-3; ISBN-13:978-0-9985753-1-5
    20-pages essay, $2.99 at iTunes, Barnes & Noble, etc.
    .

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