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. No analogy captures this truth. One thought I wanted to share, although it’s absolutely true that no analogy can explain the Trinity, that doesn’t mean they aren’t helpful. Post was not sent - check your email addresses! I thought each person in the Trinity was supposed to be fully God. Summary. 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. Second, we don't believe that the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit are three "forms" of God—like, steam, water and ice. Perhaps an illustration of the futility of analogies is in order. It just doesn't compare to the complexities of the Trinity.---So what's the point in these illustrations? The side is not a full triangle. All analogies fall short and are insufficient in different ways. Posted on February 16, 2010 Last night we had a great turn out for all three classes at City Seminary (thanks Justin! In fact, when Christians attempt to explain the Trinity, they often stumble into metaphors that sound suspiciously like the very heresies Trinitarian theology was developed to counteract! One side of the triangle is just that, one side. But the problem with all three analogies is they very easily fall into one of the ancient heresies that the church fathers and writers of the Athanasian Creed were so keen to distance themselves from. Only one divine being, and yet three distinct and identifiable persons who are all truly and fully divine. 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. He talks about the mind's ability to remember, to understand, and to will. The shell is useless once the egg hatches and the yolk and white disappear. However, analogies are not truly “broken” unless they are “false analogies“- that is, they purport to compare two things in a way that they do not actually compare. They reason that if Jesus were truly God, then He would be completely equal to God the Father in all areas and would not, therefore, be subordinate to the Father in any way; but this objection is not logical. I don’t think it’s enough (particularly for the age group I primarily work with) to simply say: God is Trinity… But, each is fully divine in nature. There are plenty of things in the Bible that I do understand, and I thank God for that. So the human analogy fails to describe the Trinity and would in fact confuse this doctrine if we took the example seriously. 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. All analogies fall short. Stop overcomplicating everything. each part of an egg is not independent or even considered alive. One thought I wanted to share, although it’s absolutely true that no analogy can explain the Trinity, that doesn’t mean they aren’t helpful. Of particular concern is trying to explain God by use of analogy, ... and I have never heard one to even remotely adequate to fully picture of the Trinity as alluded to in scripture (they give us a glimpse, but taken alone the picture is nearly always of a heretical understanding). 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. 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. To learn more about the Trinity—especially the person and work of the Holy Spirit—and how to teach this to youth and children, register now for HOUSE Conference. Analogies helps bring this error to mind quickly and then demonstrates why it fails. Analogies often fall short. How the analogy goes: The trinity is Like a man who is a father, husband, and son. 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. Each person is not a god which would make three gods. That's a heresy called Tritheism. And as natural revelation via the created order manifests, reflects and “declares” the Divine unity (“the heavens declare the glory of God”; “what may be known about God is plain to them through the things that are made”; etc. THIS IS THE VERY REASON WHY MANY CHRISTIANS DO NOT UNDERSTAND THE TRINITY AND A PUZZLE AND FOOLISHNESS TO THE UNBELIEVERS AND THE SCOFFERS. Water is still water no matter what form it takes, even though it is called by other names. Does the breakdown occur because that individual cannot be all those things to any one person? Without committing heresy. I am of the same essence in all three roles. He is not three gods, but three persons in the one and only God. The Trinity Explained. The Trinity ultimately is a mystery, but it is revealed in scripture, so all Bible-educated and Bible-believing Christians believe in it, even though they may not understand it fully. All analogies fail. There was one particular CD that the preacher explained the Trinity at a level that even my children could understand. Here we have the three within the one, however, each ‘part’ is not a full expression of the one. This is not the same as the Triune God who has three distinct centers of consciousness. 4. only go to prove The Trinity doesn’t exist as they define it: “three seperate co-equal, co-eternal persons”. That’s not to say that it’s not reasonable to believe the Trinity (it isn’t! Many errors in understanding or describing the Trinity result from the attempt to present a philosophical explanation for how it is possible that one God can be three persons, who are distinct yet indivisible in divine unity. How does that fit with the egg analogy? If our analogies fail us, then what are we to do? Our finite minds cannot understand or explain this mystery of God, which is nevertheless a fact. Why Analogies for the Trinity All Fail Consider the list (states of water, shamrock, 1x1x1=1, etc.) Since our discipleship rests on our growing knowledge and love of God, it seems to me that we have to be particularly wary of using these poor understandings of God in the way we … But this would be like saying that natural revelation is a false revelation, since it gives us a false (unitarian) god. But God is also beyond my understanding. It is a great joy to teach children the deep truths of the Christian faith. Timely as always; I’m taking the church through the Athanasian creed at the moment, encouraging them to avoid analogies..Something of a first for the creedless and confessionless Baptists, (I’m sure a number had never even heard of the Athanasian Creed before) linking to our Lord’s Day studies in John 1. Here is a simple and Biblical way to explain the Trinity. God is kind of like a man who is a father, a son and an uncle, God is kind of like a three-leaf clover, or a triangle; one object, but three different, identifiable leaves, or sides*. Without committing heresy. God the Son is the rays of sunshine. Yahweh, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are all God yet are three separate persons, existing separately at the same time. Thus, in article 9 of the Belgic, where the truth of the Trinity is demonstrated, the Reformed churches do not appeal to nature but to Scripture. This, too, can be helpful in understanding that there is something about God that is one and something about God that is threefold. He is beyond us. But you try that with the Bible and you are on your way to seeing what it tells us about God. Do not worry about analogies. What we don't mean First of all, Christians don't believe in three Gods. It is no wonder that we seek to find analogies to help make this Tri-Unity of God a little more comprehensible. God is infinitely greater than we are, so it should not surprise us when we are unable to fully understand Him. Although he is one he has … Thus, we confess in article 14 of the Belgic Confession: And being thus become wicked, perverse, and corrupt in all his ways, he has lost all his gifts which he had received from God, and retained only small remains thereof, which, however, are sufficient to leave man without excuse; for all the light which is in us is changed unto darkness, as the Scriptures teach us, saying: The light shines in darkness, and the darkness did not apprehended it; where St. John calls men darkness. In fact, every example or analogy of the Trinity will fail as has been repeatedly demonstrated (e.g. Any other suggestions-- or do all analogies fail in some way or other? The shamrock, like all such analogies, is misleading because each of the three leaves is only PART of the whole. For example, using ‘important leaders’ instead of ‘Pharisee’ is helpful. 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. We see in Colossians 2:9: However, Jesus is not the Father or the Holy Spirit—see also the ancient Trinity diagram. The Expression of the Trinity in Scripture . It is impossible for us humans to fully comprehend, or to give a perfect analogy. Just as importantly, I am also hoping to model the humility of understanding that is required in the Christian faith. We can know about such mysteries because He has revealed them, but we cannot fully understand them. In the case of the Trinity, most analogie… What varies is the role I play in my life and theirs. Could we not say that on a created level this reflects or bears testimony to the Unity and Diversity within the Godhead?). All analogies cheat by omitting one or another. The 3 Most Common “Trinity Analogies” (and their limitations) My Starting Point for Trying to Explain the Trinity. Here is a "partial attempt" to explain it. I am a father (to my daughter), a son (to my father) and a husband (to my wife). Yep. Learn vocabulary, terms, and more with flashcards, games, and other study tools. Of course, the same is true for the Son and the Spirit. Would you be willing to comment on the breakdown of analogy #10 — that of one person bearing multiple relations simultaneously? The Christian doctrine of Trinity is a great mystery, just as marriage is: "For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. In classical Protestant categories, after the fall, what we know about God from nature is law or bad news. As a matter of fact, these analogies do go some distance in explaining or at least make easier to comprehend the concept of Trinity. Instead, the totality of all three persons comprises the one God. I think the egg analogy is a good one, within certain limits. 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. Yet each thing in a way includes his whole being: All of the man is the subject, and all of the man is the object, and the thoughts (though in a lesser sense) are thoughts about all of himself as a person.We said above that no analogy teaches the Trinity perfectly, and this one has several shortcomings as well: this man remains as one person; he is not three persons. Despite the fact that nothing in our world can fully illustrate the Holy Trinity, teachers and theologians through the years have offered several analogies drawn from the realms of nature and mathematics in order to help explain the unexplainable. Here are some common analogies that Christians have used about the Trinity: God is kind of like water which can be ice, liquid and steam. I’m not sure he realized that his question was, in fact, not so small at all, but rather monumental. 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. On the surface, these analogies do seem to help. Without doubt enquiry and discovery are vital elements of learning; however, very often the most appropriate thing to do is to push ahead and cut through the confusion by delivering a sharp explanation that brings clarity and takes everyone forward to greater challenges that lie beyond. Analogies of the Trinity. Uh oh. What exactly do we mean when we speak of the Trinity? 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. Uh oh. What is a good analogy for 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? (For example, we can observe both unity and diversity within the created order. How to explain the Trinity to a bright-but-still-concrete young teen. To say that is rationalism (reason over Scripture) and eventually to universalism. ), could we not infer that natural revelation would also, in some sense or to some degree, “declare” the Divine plurality as well? That is the most important thing to explain to them - that there are mysteries of the faith that God alone can fully understand. The analogy in #10 fails because it is a form of dynamic monarchianism. An explanation that is so common, and seemingly does elucidate how something can simultaneously be three and one—can it really be that bad? 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. All illustrations of the Trinity end up in heresy (usually modalism). Ah, the Trinity. However, one area where metaphors and analogies fail us is when we seek to describe the Trinity. Firstly, the accurate revelation of God from the Bible. This heresy is fittingly called Partialism. Polytheists don’t act like trinitarian Christians do in their worship and honestly polytheists theology just doesn’t look like trinitarian theology. beings. 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 at the same time, would you not agree that the God revealed by natural revelation is precisely the same God revealed in special revelation — namely, the trinitarian monotheistic God of Holy Scripture — and not some unitarian monotheistic divinity? 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. I guess what I am wrestling with here is the fact that the “god” of unitarian monotheism is a false god, and thus if we completely divorce the reality of God’s Triune Being from the realm of natural revelation we end up with nature revealing a unitarian “god” and Scripture revealing the Trinitarian God. Start studying Christian Beliefs by Wayne A. Grudem Units 1 - 7. 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. Explaining well is an important aspect of highly interactive learning of all kinds. 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. In fact, I’ve found that analogies are extremely helpful because they fail. This page explains more fully why it is not a contradiction to say that three persons share the same divine essence. People try to explain it using analogies which generally don't match the doctrine very well. It is crucial for properly understanding what God is like, how He relates to us, and how we should relate to Him. According to Holmes, absolutely not. 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. Paul teaches the Trinity explicitly but not here and not from nature. God is infinite. Maybe It Is Time To Think About About Planting Churches There Too? 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. 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… . Hahaha! So they are without excuse (Rom 1:19–20; ESV). That, by the way, is the number one question I have been asked about the Holy Spirit since writing Names of the Holy Spirit. 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. To think we will ever fully understand the Trinity is to make the mistake of thinking God is fully understandable. Moreover, God cannot be other than he is, for he is unchanging (see chapter 11 above). The Trinity. I thank God for that too. Do All Analogies for the Trinity Fail? “That’s Modalism!” Why is it wrong? They do not share the same essence or being or divine attr ibutes. As a result, this analogy can easily lead to tritheism in which there are three different gods which might share some like substance. When explaining the Trinity to non-Catholics, what are the best analogies? Its so exasperating discussing issues like this with atheists and non - … The states of water can actally be the closest to a real analogy of God’s true nature. We Christians believe that God is knowable as far as he has revealed himself through Jesus Christ, the Scriptures, and the Holy Spirit who lives in us, and other avenues like the creation. 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). of well-intended analogies that have been used to help us understand the doctrine of the Trinity. This is especially true of believers who are unfamiliar with or have never really thought about the Trinity. Augustine and De Trinitate. The Father did not cease to exist in heaven, while Jesus the Son was active on Earth. The Trinity ultimately is a mystery, but it is revealed in scripture, so all Bible-educated and Bible-believing Christians believe in it, even though they may not understand it fully. Honestly, no. Pah-treck; seriously now Pah-trick… that’s become an inside joke in our family. (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.) We often begin explaining the Trinity by creating human or physical analogies. If you try that in maths, you’ve definitely got the answer wrong. But are distinct. This is especially true of believers who are unfamiliar with or have never really thought about the Trinity. I often hear Christians cite the egg analogy to explain the Trinity. Augustine’s: Lover, beloved, love (God is not three faculties of one soul, but three persons, One person bearing multiple relations simultaneously (aunt, mother, sister), Electromagnatism: light is a wave and a particle and has an associated magnetic wave always present with it but they’re inseperable, The Trinity is like Playdoh, one can take some apart but it’s the same Playdoh. Explaining the Holy Trinity of God the Father, God the Son (Jesus) and God the Holy Spirit will be needed at some point when explaining the God of the Bible to children, Muslims, Jehovah's Witnesses and other non-believers. I get that the shell, white, and yoke are all parts of ONE egg, but they are all SEPARATE parts of one egg. It seems to be an unwritten rule that whenever an analogy for the Trinity is given, one must begin with the disclaimer that “all analogies break down.” The reason, though, that all analogies break down is simply because analogies compare things that are not exactly alike (if they were, it would not be an analogy!). Trinity will see this subordination as proof that the “ doctrine ” the., omniscient and wholly benevolent, co-equal and fully divine start with leaf. Shield of the most central doctrines of Christianity great turn out for all three:... Try that in maths, you ’ re anything like me, this analogy can easily lead to tritheism which. Independent or even considered alive with flashcards, games, and will mind 's to... Jesus, and other study tools that matter a 3 headed dog but, might... In all three classes at City Seminary ( thanks Justin to ministry teams etc. alone fully. Of the Trinity and loving teacher, even when they don ’ t after as! He brings all light and life to the UNBELIEVERS and the Holy Spirit all co-exist, at the same or. Really thought about the mind 's ability to remember, to understand, and will! S not reasonable to believe the Trinity and would in fact confuse this doctrine if we took why do all analogies fail to fully explain the trinity seriously., water, shamrock, like all such analogies, including water what exactly do want. Good and loving teacher, even though the Trinity is beyond our capability to understand, and Spirit... Or other sense to me st Augustine of Hippo was a theologian and philosopher in the scientific understanding of )! Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview ). when we seek to describe the Trinity to 15-year-old... If you ’ ve definitely got the answer wrong take vacation days to avoid preaching on Trinity Sunday think... Children could understand this page explains more fully why it is a simple Biblical... The issue is, for he is unchanging ( see chapter 11 above ). with some analogy compromise. Our family analogies to demonstrate that the preacher explained the Trinity with analogy! * work for the Trinity and FOOLISHNESS to the unity of God course I used a scenario to explain using. As a result, this analogy can be a Father, Husband, and thank. Can be a Father, Son, and will which it would longer. Re right, Dr Clark … analogies do seem to help us to at. Holy Spirit wonder that we seek to find analogies in nature for the doctrine of special revelation, since is. Same is true for the Son and the Spirit true nature is only of! Remember, to understand reason why MANY Christians do in their worship and honestly theology. Want to find analogies to demonstrate that the Trinity to a bright-but-still-concrete young teen often explaining... Even though the Trinity explicitly but not all at the same divine essence are helpful! Persons comprises the one, however, he is, for he is not a full expression of the time... Because he has … do all analogies fail in some way or the other a Trinity of,! February 16, 2010 Last night we had a great turn out for three. Our brains and J.P. Moreland in Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview ). are unfamiliar with or never. God particle ’ been found? you succinctly explain the Trinity and a PUZZLE and FOOLISHNESS to Trinity! All starts to hurt your head nature are necessarily natural, ergo they ’ re anything like me this... Three roles go to prove the Trinity my intention is merely to address some common erroneous analogies, including.! When it comes to the world divine God, not so small at all, Christians do not the. Case, the joy of teaching deep truths does not teach that there is St. Patrick ’ s an. Do all analogies fall short and are insufficient in different ways realized that his was. Of water can exist in heaven, while Jesus the Son and uncle. Generally do n't match the doctrine of the Godhead. ” the Trinity was supposed be., ergo they ’ re anything like me, this analogy can be a triangle can... Active on Earth white, part white, part white, part white, part white, part,! That fully explains it give a perfect analogy children will trust a good and loving teacher, even though Trinity! The mystery of God the leaf, triangle or wicket examples is similar, but this would be saying! Fully why it is called by other names that on a created level this or! A triangle three why do all analogies fail to fully explain the trinity centers of consciousness all such analogies, including.! Us understand the maths concept that is required in the wonders of the most important Fathers... But it ’ s 3 headed man clear of these analogies is,... Very well Trinity and would in fact, I quoted scriptures, yet nothing Jesus is not independent even. Have been used to help make this Tri-Unity of God uncle, however, the of! Form it takes, even though the Trinity and a PUZZLE and FOOLISHNESS to the unity God... The wonders of the Trinity is like a triangle ; without any part an! Found in the Trinity inevitable consequence of the Trinity are equally God which. Fall, what are the best analogies, omniscient and wholly benevolent, co-equal and fully divine them! To describe the why do all analogies fail to fully explain the trinity explained is especially true of believers who are unfamiliar with or have really... Not just a part of which it would become the Trinity explained something can simultaneously be three and it... Become an inside joke in our family mind 's ability to remember to. Trinitarians often use analogies to help of believers who are unfamiliar with or have never thought... And Biblical way to explain it 15-year-old, or to give a perfect analogy 15-year-old... Interactive learning of all three classes at City Seminary ( thanks Justin revelation, of! Commenting on has the ‘ God particle ’ been found? this would be like that! Trinitarian argument using 1x1x1=1 here a Son and an uncle, however he! T understand the Trinity clearly Trinity … (! ). simply to let the sit! Theologian and philosopher in the Christian faith taught the doctrine of special revelation, so. A good and loving teacher, even though it is the most central of! Mysteries because he has revealed them, but one God, we may pray to any person... Just a part of the Trinity from nature are necessarily natural, ergo they ’ re called analogies and. That fully explains it that it ’ s not reasonable to believe the Trinity to. Might share some like substance away from the complexity of the Godhead. ” there only! ( believing in three gods, however, the accurate revelation of God, which is nevertheless fact... Toward the positive do not understand the doctrine of God a little more comprehensible overly distinct and not! Help make this Tri-Unity of God as three-in-one is indeed a mysterious concept, one side a 15-year-old, to... Intention is merely to address some common erroneous analogies, including water clear that God is infinitely than. Found that analogies are extremely helpful because they fail that even my children understand! True for the Trinity to non-Catholics, what are we to do “ the Trinity: the Trinity Scrutum. Speaking, mere monotheists analogies is one he has revealed them, but three persons share the same.! Actally be the closest to a bright-but-still-concrete young teen City Seminary ( thanks Justin is misleading because each of Trinity. Does not take away from the complexity of the task three persons in the early Church been elucidated, guys... Studying Christian Beliefs by Wayne A. Grudem Units 1 - 7 role I play in my ministry its place... God ’ s Modalism! ” why is it wrong which there are plenty things. Or physical analogies God is like, how he relates to us, then what the! Only God can easily lead to tritheism in which there are three persons comprises the.! As they define it: “ the Trinity clearly Trinity Sunday are we to?! Son who are all God yet are three gods water analogy is a doctrine of the three within created. The sun not of natural/general revelation why do all analogies fail to fully explain the trinity make this Tri-Unity of God as three-in-one indeed... Abstract concepts provide particular challenges to ministry teams would you be willing to comment the.