by Matt Slick
The Trinity can be a difficult concept to understand. Some think it is a logical contradiction. Others call it a mystery. Does the Bible teach it? Yes it does (see Trinity), but that doesn't automatically make it easier to comprehend.
The Trinity is defined as one God who exists in three eternal, simultaneous, and distinct persons known as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Such a definition may suffice for some, but for others this explanation is insufficient.
Therefore, to help understand the Trinity better, I offer the following analogy that, I think, is hinted at in Rom. 1:20: "For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse."
Notice that this verse says God's attributes, power, and nature can be clearly seen in creation. What does that mean? Should we be able to learn about God's attributes, power, and nature by looking at what He has made? Apparently, according to the Bible, this is possible.
When a painter paints a picture, what is in him is reflected in the painting he produces. When a sculptor creates a work of art, it is from his heart and mind that the source of the sculpture is born. The work is shaped by his creative ability. The creators of art leave their marks--something that is their own and something that reflects what they are. Is this the same with God? Has God left His fingerprints on creation? Of course He has.
Basically, the universe consists of three elements: Time, Space, and Matter. Each of these is comprised of three 'components.'
|TIME SPACE MATTER|
As the Trinitarian doctrine maintains, each of the persons of the Godhead is distinct; yet they are all each, by nature, God.
With time, for example, the past is distinct from the present, which is distinct from the future. Each is simultaneous, yet they are not three 'times' but one. That is, they all share the same nature: time.
With space, height is distinct from width, which is distinct from depth, which is distinct from height. Yet, they are not three 'spaces' but one. That is, they all share the same nature: space.
With matter, solid is not the same as liquid, which is not the same as gas, which is not the same as solid. Yet, they are not three 'matters' but one. That is, they all share the same nature: matter.
Note that there are three sets of threes. In other words, there is a trinity of trinities. If we were to look at the universe and notice these qualities within it, is it fair to say that these are the fingerprints of God upon His creation? I think so. Not only is this simply an observation but also it is a good source for an analogy of the Trinity.
A Criticism of Trinitarianism
Some critiques of the Trinitarian doctrine say that the Trinity is really teaching three gods and not one. They will say that God the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit would make three gods since the Father plus the Son plus the Holy Spirit would make three; but this is not a logical necessity. Instead of adding, why not multiply? One times one times one equals one. Why must addition be the criteria by which the doctrine is judged? It need not be. Rather, the doctrine should stand or fall based upon biblical revelation and not human logic. Nevertheless, let me draw an analogy from creation itself to illustrate the doctrine of the Trinity.
An Analogy of the Trinity
To continue with the observation about the Trinitarian nature of creation, I would like to use 'time' to illustrate the Trinity. Is the "past" plus the "present" plus the "future" a total of three times? Not at all. It simply is a representation of three distinct aspects of the nature of time: past, present, and future. Likewise, the Father and the Son and Holy Spirit are not three separate beings or entities but three distinct persons in the one nature of the Godhead.
One more comment about Jesus. All cults deny that Jesus is God, the creator of the universe, in flesh. Various objections are raised saying that Jesus could not be God; otherwise, He would be praying to Himself, etc. Let's work with the analogy above and continue with 'time' as our illustration.
Let's take 'present' and add to it human nature. Present, then, would have two natures: time and man. If 'present' were truly human, then he would be able to communicate with us, tell us much, and we could see and touch him; but, because he is also 'time' by nature, he would be able to tell us both the past and the future as he manifested the 'time' nature within him. If 'present' then communicated with the past and the future, it would not mean he was communicating with himself but with the distinctions known as the past and the future.
I know this is only an analogy; but I think it is a good, thorough, basic illustration of God's nature as expressed in Trinitarian expression.