He says that while no analogy will ever be complete ("I'm slightly resistant to your term 'bad illustrations' because it suggests that some are good"), to give them up completely would be a mistake. Let's start with the negative and work toward the positive. In a recent podcast responding to White's criticism of the Cerberus analogy (Greek mythological … Scripture teaches us what we can know about God from nature: For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. Why Analogies for the Trinity All Fail Consider the list (states of water, shamrock, 1x1x1=1, etc.) For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. They can be ... To put it simply, “The problem with using analogies to explain the Holy Trinity is that you always end up confessing some ancient heresy.” I have found that analogies of the Trinity are a normal reaction from Christians who find themselves defensive about a complicated doctrine. But even if you conquer the intimidating task of explaining the meaning of the Trinity, you may face an even more momentous … The trinity is a mystery and no analogy can be put forth that fully explains it. Again, the Trinity does not teach that there are three gods. of well-intended analogies that have been used to help us understand the doctrine of the Trinity. It seems like every time I hear a Christian explaining the doctrine of the trinity, they preface it with a few qualifications about how the trinity can only be understood by faith and that it is beyond all human comprehension and they will never understand it. Learn vocabulary, terms, and more with flashcards, games, and other study tools. . Critics of the Trinity will see this subordination as proof that the Trinity is false. All analogies fall short. Someone tossed out the “water” example. What is a good analogy for the trinity? Me too.”. They do not share the same essence or being or divine attr ibutes. Analogies often fall short. This heresy is fittingly called Partialism. THIS IS THE VERY REASON WHY MANY CHRISTIANS DO NOT UNDERSTAND THE TRINITY AND A PUZZLE AND FOOLISHNESS TO THE UNBELIEVERS AND THE SCOFFERS. “That’s Modalism!” Why is it wrong? All analogies fail. That’s not to say that it’s not reasonable to believe the Trinity (it isn’t! Americans Are Going Home. When it comes to analogies of the Trinity, we must take care to remember that anything we can think of or encounter will not be exhaustively sufficient to explain the triune nature of God. Analogies helps bring this error to mind quickly and then demonstrates why it fails. Now where this falls, as all analogies–and we have to understand that; every analogy we use of God is going to fall, because God’s infinitely beyond us, we can never fully comprehend Him. The problem with the leaf, triangle or wicket examples is similar, but different. However, the joy of teaching deep truths does not take away from the complexity of the task. As a matter of fact, these analogies do go some distance in explaining or at least make easier to comprehend the concept of Trinity. I also agree that the “doctrine” of the Trinity is a doctrine of special revelation, not of natural/general revelation. Children’s ministry leaders know all too well the difficulty of having to work hard with language in order to communicate to our youngest sisters and brothers in the faith. God the Son is the rays of sunshine. This page explains more fully why it is not a contradiction to say that three persons share the same divine essence. We can know about such mysteries because He has revealed them, but we cannot fully understand them. However, ice, water, and vapor are three modes of being of H 2 O. We often begin explaining the Trinity by creating human or physical analogies. Just a few notes of caution. Christians are trinitarian, believing in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and yet one God. Then took a breath and followed with, “Why do you ask?” “My friend said we worship three gods, because we say ‘Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.’” Aha. He is beyond us. Sorry, your blog cannot share posts by email. Yet most Christians have difficulty explaining the Trinity clearly. Any analogy will compromise the Biblical vision of God, so I stay clear of these. Covenant, Justification, and Pastoral Ministry, Indy Reformed Holding Services January 17 and 24, 2021 (Updated), Some Reasons Why Visitors Do Not Stay And What To Do About It, Heidelast 169: As It Was In The Days Of Noah (15): Living Among The Pagans, A New Calvin Title In English: God Or Baal—Two Letters On The Reformation Of Worship And Pastoral Service. The introduction to this Creed states: That we worship one God in Trinity and the Trinity in unity, neither blending their persons nor dividing their essence. In discussing analogies for the Trinity you will almost immediately get to the most common mistakes people will make in their understanding of the Trinity. Not trying to attack or anything, but this never really made sense to me. All analogies fall short and are insufficient in different ways. The states of water can actally be the closest to a real analogy of God’s true nature. This includes trying to compare the Trinity to a human being who has intellect, feeling, and will. How to explain the Trinity to a bright-but-still-concrete young teen. The 3 Most Common “Trinity Analogies” (and their limitations) My Starting Point for Trying to Explain the Trinity. Should we give up attempting to explain the Trinity and just accept that our language will never be able to fully embody all that God is? When explaining the Trinity to non-Catholics, what are the best analogies? If you try that in maths, you’ve definitely got the answer wrong. However, the doctrine of the Trinity says that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit share the same being or essence, and this is where the human example of the three patriarchs and the divine nature must part company. beings. Therefore it is best to admit that the Trinity has no analogy with which we can compare it. Of course, the same is true for the Son and the Spirit. People try to explain it using analogies which generally don't match the doctrine very well. For example, using ‘important leaders’ instead of ‘Pharisee’ is helpful. At bottom, the answer to this question is a matter of keeping reason in its ministerial place and Scripture in its ruling place. Then there is St. Patrick’s use of the shamrock. My preference is simply to let the children sit in the wonders of the mystery of our Triune God. Louis Berkhof explains it this way: “The Trinity is a mystery… It is especially when we reflect on the relation of the three persons to the divine essence that all analogies fail us and we become deeply conscious of the fact that the Trinity is a mystery far beyond our comprehension. There’s a simple reason they don’t work: The Trinity, as such, isn’t like anything in creation. In discussing analogies for the Trinity you will almost immediately get to the most common mistakes people will make in their understanding of the Trinity. They will trust a good and loving parent, even when they don’t understand the choices of food, entertainment, or holiday destination that the parent makes. I like a triangle; without any part of which it would no longer be a triangle. You all are filled with misconceptions and even though the trinity concept has been elucidated , you guys are still obdurate about your opinion . Our professor asked if we had any great ways to explain the concept of the Trinity – a word picture we might use when teaching a class. Any other suggestions-- or do all analogies fail in some way or other? After all, if natural revelation presents us with a unitarian deity, whereas special revelation presents us with a trinitarian deity, would that not pit natural revelation against special revelation? I am a father (to my daughter), a son (to my father) and a husband (to my wife). I've used the government to explain , I used a scenario to explain, I quoted scriptures , yet nothing . So, while I agree that the developed “doctrine” of the Trinity is found only in Scripture (and even there it is only gradually revealed in the process of redemptive history culminating in the Incarnate Christ), I think we have to be careful not to give the impression that natural revelation somehow reveals a different God than does special revelation. I can still recall moments when eyes have lit up with understanding or when brows, furrowed with concentration, have released as God’s truth has sunk deep into the minds and hearts of the children in the room. also John 17:5, 24). You can almost bank on the fact that they will think of the Trinity as modalism or partialism. It is the incomprehensible glory of the Godhead.” On the surface, these analogies do seem to help. Explaining well is an important aspect of highly interactive learning of all kinds. What exactly do we mean when we speak of the Trinity? Historically, the heresy is called Modalism. It is no wonder that we seek to find analogies to help make this Tri-Unity of God a little more comprehensible. True, we humans are image bearers but nothing in creation serves as an analogy for the Trinity because the Trinity is a doctrine of special (biblical) revelation not nature or reason.”, GW: I agree that all analogies and illustrations for the Trinity taken from nature end up in heresy, at least when left unqualified or taken to their logical end. … Ah, the Trinity. I often hear Christians cite the egg analogy to explain the Trinity. I am of the same essence in all three roles. You know, the Trinity is like water. This is the Christian doctrine of God. I’m not sure he realized that his question was, in fact, not so small at all, but rather monumental. In short, one God in three persons. He says that while no analogy will ever be complete ("I'm slightly resistant to your term 'bad illustrations' because it suggests … Christian Trinitarians often use analogies to demonstrate that the Trinity doctrine isn’t after all as en-explainable as people think. Speaking personally, because I feel the need to at least try to help the young people I work with have an understanding of the Trinity. I have found that all of the analogies for The Trinity: states of water, the egg, a pie, etc. Rather, each person of the Trinity has all of the attributes of God, and no one Person has any attributes that are not possessed by the others. (I confess to having used the H2O water-ice-steam analogy for illustrative purposes, but have tried to be careful to immediately point out its inadequacy and its tendency toward the heresy of modalism.) The shamrock, like all such analogies, is misleading because each of the three leaves is only PART of the whole. As a result, this analogy can easily lead to tritheism in which there are three different gods which might share some like substance. Thanks DavidW! Second, we don't believe that the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit are three "forms" of God—like, steam, water and ice. But if each person is fully God and has all of God’s being, then we also should not think that the personal distinctions are any kind of additional attributes added on to the being of God . Without committing heresy. Time is past, present and future. To say that is rationalism (reason over Scripture) and eventually to universalism. Also, I would be cautious about using triads in nature, such as solid-liquid-gas, three dimensions, past/present/future as any proof of the Trinity (not th… This is especially true of believers who are unfamiliar with or have never really thought about the Trinity. Yet other passages clearly indicate that the Father is fully God (Eph 4:6), Jesus is fully God (John 1:1-4) and the Holy Spirit is fully God (Acts 5:3-4). All exist simultaneously (particularly in the scientific understanding of space-time). Modalism, or Sabellianism, denies the three distinct Persons of the Trinity and claims that God is … All analogies cheat by omitting one or another. Yahweh, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are all God yet are three separate persons, existing separately at the same time. Yes, all analogies fail in some way or the other. The Expression of the Trinity in Scripture . I want the children in my ministry to trust their good and loving God—Father, Son and Holy Spirit—and to see that not fully understanding his nature is not a reason to stop putting their hope and faith in him. Pah-treck; seriously now Pah-trick… that’s become an inside joke in our family. “YHWH is one,” so says Deut 6:4. 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