Without committing heresy. 4. In classical Protestant categories, after the fall, what we know about God from nature is law or bad news. … 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! You’re right, Dr Clark … Analogies do *not* work for the Trinity …(!). three headed dog Cerberus used by William Craig and J.P. Moreland in Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview)." The doctrine of the Trinity is foundational to the Christian faith. only go to prove The Trinity doesn’t exist as they define it: “three seperate co-equal, co-eternal persons”. For this reason, I encourage children’s leaders to develop appropriate metaphors, analogies and other ‘shorthand’ for concepts that they will be using frequently with children. 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. Below is the easiest way that I have ever heard it explained: God the Father is the sun. And accusing all Christians who do believe in the trinity as necessary conceptual polytheism is unfounded because they don’t act like polytheists at all. No analogy can fully explain God–I think that’s important to stress in any of our examples–but they can be helpful in beginning to wrap our minds around a similar concept. It is no wonder that we seek to find analogies to help make this Tri-Unity of God a little more comprehensible. 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. Explaining well is an important aspect of highly interactive learning of all kinds. All analogies fall short and are insufficient in different ways. The analogy breaks down because the three cloves are overly distinct and cannot represent the unity of God. 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. 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. 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. It is a great joy to teach children the deep truths of the Christian faith. But this would be like saying that natural revelation is a false revelation, since it gives us a false (unitarian) god. Some think of God as H 2 O, which is sometimes a solid (ice), sometimes a liquid (water), and sometimes a gas (steam). Analogies of the Trinity. Yahweh, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are all God yet are three separate persons, existing separately at the same time. The Bible is clear that God the Father is distinct from God the Son who are both distinct from God the Holy Spirit. . . If you try that in maths, you’ve definitely got the answer wrong. 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. Michael writes to say that he recently read an article I wrote in 1999 on the Trinity and to ask if I’m willing to consider an analogy for the Trinity. Americans Are Going Home. Christian Trinitarians often use analogies to demonstrate that the Trinity doctrine isn’t after all as en-explainable as people think. Polytheists don’t act like trinitarian Christians do in their worship and honestly polytheists theology just doesn’t look like trinitarian theology. The Expression of the Trinity in Scripture . That’s not to say that it’s not reasonable to believe the Trinity (it isn’t! Learn vocabulary, terms, and more with flashcards, games, and other study tools. We must accept the truths found in the Word of God by faith even though we ourselves cannot comprehend them fully; read Hebrews 11:1, 3, 6 and 1 Corinthians 2:5-10, 14; 13:12. It is the incomprehensible glory of the Godhead.” On the surface, these analogies do seem to help. Post was not sent - check your email addresses! 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. Why Analogies for the Trinity All Fail Consider the list (states of water, shamrock, 1x1x1=1, etc.) There are not three gods, however, but one God in three Persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Trinity Explained. He talks about the mind's ability to remember, to understand, and to will. The Trinity is monotheistic since it is the doctrine that only one God exists in all space and time. Could we not say that on a created level this reflects or bears testimony to the Unity and Diversity within the Godhead?). I think the egg analogy is a good one, within certain limits. Why do Christians believe this essential doctrine? See the article linked above) but only that it’s not revealed in nature per se, i.e., the doctrine of the Trinity cannot be deduced from nature. I have also discussed the Trinitarian argument using 1x1x1=1 here. I thought each person in the Trinity was supposed to be fully God. Time is past, present and future. Water can exist in three different states but not all at the same time. 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. 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. While these analogies have been somewhat helpful, they risk leaving the listener thinking mostly about the ideas communicated by the analogy or We cannot know him savingly from nature. 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? Summary. Sorry, your blog cannot share posts by email. You can almost bank on the fact that they will think of the Trinity as modalism or partialism. 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. However, since analogies of the Trinity are seeking to help us understand the very nature of God, faulty analogies are going to result in faulty knowledge of God. An explanation that is so common, and seemingly does elucidate how something can simultaneously be three and one—can it really be that bad? There is no best analogy to explain the Trinity. Hahaha! Learn vocabulary, terms, and more with flashcards, games, and other study tools. This is the Christian doctrine of God. Yes, all analogies fail in some way or the other. THIS IS THE VERY REASON WHY MANY CHRISTIANS DO NOT UNDERSTAND THE TRINITY AND A PUZZLE AND FOOLISHNESS TO THE UNBELIEVERS AND THE SCOFFERS. Each person is not a god which would make three gods. Do All Analogies for the Trinity Fail? Start studying Christian Beliefs by Wayne A. Grudem Units 1 - 7. 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. Yet most Christians have difficulty explaining the Trinity clearly. In short, one God in three persons. in any case, the analogy fails miserable because the parts of an egg do not have the same correlation to each other as the three parts of the trinity do. Well the issue is, the water analogy is akin to the heresy of Modalism. The idea of God as three-in-one is indeed a mysterious concept, one that is difficult to understand. If you’re anything like me, this all starts to hurt your head. (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.) Again, the Trinity does not teach that there are three gods. In fact, I’ve found that analogies are extremely helpful because they fail. What exactly do we mean when we speak of the Trinity? 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. Christians are trinitarian, believing in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and yet one God. Only one divine being, and yet three distinct and identifiable persons who are all truly and fully divine. Children’s lower vocabulary and gradually developing sense of abstract concepts provide particular challenges to ministry teams. The problem with #10 is that though the Trinitarian persons do indeed bear distinct relations to each other, they do so as three persons, not one person. 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. When I teach, I use THE ‘SUN’ to help us understand or give us a glimpse of the TRINITY… 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. This heresy is fittingly called Partialism. God does reveal himself in nature but there are limits. The states of water can actally be the closest to a real analogy of God’s true nature. According to Holmes, absolutely not. The desire to find analogies in nature for the doctrine of the Trinity is understandable but it’s misguided. 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. of well-intended analogies that have been used to help us understand the doctrine of the Trinity. There have been many heresies regarding the trinity in the past, but today's 'version' has been around for a very long time. God is infinite. 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. That’s what made it click for me. This is not the same as the Triune God who has three distinct centers of consciousness. We can know about such mysteries because He has revealed them, but we cannot fully understand them. The shamrock, like all such analogies, is misleading because each of the three leaves is only PART of the whole. 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 … 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. All analogies cheat by omitting one or another. Ah, the Trinity. All illustrations of the Trinity end up in heresy (usually modalism). This, too, can be helpful in understanding that there is something about God that is one and something about God that is threefold. 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). All analogies fall short. Critics of the Trinity will see this subordination as proof that the Trinity is false. Muslims understand the explanations and analogies given by Christian apologists to make sense of the Trinity, and even after we have listened to the explanations, we still reject it because again the Trinity is illogical and at it’s core is not monotheistic. The Doctrine of the Trinity is one of the most central doctrines of Christianity. 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