The Trinity

There is no doctrine more essential to understanding Christian theology than the trinity yet at the same time it is by far the most difficult doctrine to understand and explain. Emil Brunner called it the “theological doctrine which defends the central faith of the Bible and the Church.”

The doctrine was first defined as a way to navigate between two false teachings: tritheism and Sabellianism. Tritheism is the belief that the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit are three completely different gods. Sabellianism claims that there is only one God and that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are different ways in which He has revealed Himself at different times. It denies the uniqueness or independence of the various members of the trinity. Although none would claim it today, most dispensationalist theologians have their roots in Sabellianism.

In an effort to guard against these two heresies three theologians, now known as the Cappodacian fathers, used two Greek words: ousia (essence), and hypostasis (independant reality). God is one ousia but three hypostasis. God is one in nature, essence, and will but each member of the trinity is an “independent reality” that has their own special properties and activities.

Every analogy limps and I am not a big fan of any analogies used for the trinity but two that are most commonly used are the egg and water. There is one egg but it is composed of a shell, the white, and the yolk. Water is always in “essence” H2O but it can be found in any of the three “independent realities” of ice, liquid, or steam.

The Father

The Son

The Holy Spirit

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5 thoughts on “The Trinity

  1. Pingback: John 10:30 (A Deeper Truth) | The River Walk

  2. Actually, though, the egg works better (for me, at least) than H20 because ice, water, and steam cannot exist at the same time. The egg on the other hand, is not an egg unless all three are present. 🙂

    Thanks, BJ. I enjoyed that little detour.

  3. I agree with Tony Casson on the analogy bit. The Trinity is a 3-in-1. God has one purpose (essence) and that entails many jobs. These jobs need different things which have been classed to fall under three classes of which the three separate entities have their assignments.

    It’s rather beautiful to me. One Being existing as three forms simultaneous doing various jobs to achieve one purpose. And because God is one Being what one knows all know, and every decision is unanimous. The Father sent the Son (in flesh) who died on the cross and was resurrected, and replaced by the Holy Spirit (who is everywhere at once).

    I know I don’t fully understand God but the bits of Him that seem clear to me are breathtaking like brightly moonlit night with numerous stars across a black sky.

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