Thursday, September 17, 2009

How the trinity doesn't work

Now I realized after I came up with the title for this blog that it sounds a little misleading. I am not intending in this article to shoot down the concept of a holy trinity, I am not trying to disprove or discredit it. It is a concept I believe in, all be it hard to wrap my head around. I will get into exactly what the title means in a little bit, but first I need to tell you about my philosophy class at Tyndale.

Philosophy is great, it's probably my favorite subject ever, and what's even better is I'm good at it. I'm the guy in the corner of the coffee shop reading Nietzsche for fun. Anyway, I was in philosophy class and we were talking about truth, namely objective truth verses relative truth which lead to a brief diatribe about self defeating sentences. (like if some one was to say "all truth is relative" their statement would be self defeating due to the fact that it was presented as a truth, which is relative.) In any case the subject of the trinity came up, and my prof addressed some common analogies for the trinity that although are widely taught, are in essence heretical.

The first analogy likened the trinity to water. Water can appear in a liquid state (water), a hardened state (ice) or a gaseous state (evaporation), three different states that are all different, but at a base level the same
heresy! ha ha.
The problem with this argument is that in each state the water had to change.

Hebrews 6:17
Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath.

God is unchanging! If the water then changes it can not be like the trinity!

In the second example the trinity was likened to an egg. The egg has a shell, a yoke and a white, three parts one egg.
To crack the egg metaphor (if you will excuse the pun) you need to isolate all parts of the egg. If one was to crack an egg and dispose of the yoke and the white, but hang on to the shell, would they still have an egg? If someone were to crack an egg into a siv, and separate the yoke from the white, and throw away the shell so that all they had left was the yoke, would they still have an egg?

John 10:29-30
My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand. I and the Father are one."

Jesus was both fully human and fully God! A shell by itself is not an egg, but a Jesus by himself is still God.

After the prof said all this one woman in the class just about lost it. The prof had shattered the poor woman's faith.

"If you take away our egg metaphor," she said "How will we explain the trinity to new Christians or children? What metaphor can you give us that stands up to theology?"

"I don't know" said the prof. "I don't have one."

"Then how can you stand there and tell us not to use the egg metaphor?" she seemed quite distraught.

"Well. I don't have a good metaphor for the trinity... but I don't think we should tell people things that are not correct! Do you?"

that's when I started to think about how I would describe the trinity. And I realized I couldn't. The easiest way of describing it is just how it's laid out in the Bible. There is God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit. They are all God, the same God. There is no polytheism here, just three dimensions of God that are always. That last part might not make sense to you, but trust me, it's the best way of saying it, they are always.

Now if you need to know the inner functions and how exactly the trinity works I can't tell you that. What I can tell you is how exactly the trinity doesn't work.
#1: It doesn't work like an egg, because when isolated the 3 components of the egg no longer make an egg, but God is always God, no matter which form he is working in. He is 3 in one.
#2: It doesn't work like water, because when water turns to ice it goes through a physical change, and God is unchanging, also like the egg, when water changes to ice it is not also water, but Jesus is also God.

So there you have it. How the trinity doesn't work. exactly.


  1. maybe as the three dimensions? Width, Height and Depth can all exist independently but when you consider them together you get the complete picture? just a thought!

  2. close, but width would also have to be height, and depth width, and height depth, while at the same time maintaining their individual characteristics they would also have to fully contain the characteristics of the other dimensions. plus you forgot dimension X where Shredder comes from. lol.

  3. One of the arguments non-Christians used to bring against the Trinity concept was how the Son came to be -er- begotten. Did the Father (masculine aspect) have sex with the Spirit (feminine aspect) who then gave birth to the Son? (Lascivious and scornful laughter ensues)

    People can't quite get the idea that God, in His/Her three aspects, is independent of Time. There are, within the Christian community, HUGE arguments about whether the Spirit "proceedeth from the Father and the Son", or whether the Father and the Holy Spirit "begot" the Son. It's all heresy, as God is One, and God is Three, and all time for God is simultaneous, so no part of God precedes any other part. The entrance of the Son into the flow of time was a miracle that confounds understanding.

    Yet another reason why there is a half hour of silence in heaven after the seals are broken....

  4. people just don't read enough Aquinas