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Daniel of Doulogos Name:Daniel
Home: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
About Me: I used to believe that evolution was reasonable, that homosexuality was genetic, and that people became Christians because they couldn't deal with the 'reality' that this life was all there was. I used to believe, that if there was a heaven - I could get there by being good - and I used to think I was more or less a good person. I was wrong on all counts. One day I finally had my eyes opened and I saw that I was not going to go to heaven, but that I was certainly going to suffer the wrath of God for all my sin. I saw myself as a treasonous rebel at heart - I hated God for creating me just to send me to Hell - and I was wretched beyond my own comprehension. Into this spiritual vacuum Jesus Christ came and he opened my understanding - delivering me from God's wrath into God's grace. I was "saved" as an adult, and now my life is hid in Christ. I am by no means sinless, but by God's grace I am a repenting believer - a born again Christian.
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Daniel's posts are almost always pastoral and God centered. I appreciate and am challenged by them frequently. He has a great sense of humor as well.
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[He has] good posts, both the serious like this one, and the humorous like yesterday. [He is] the reason that I have restrained myself from making Canadian jokes in my posts.
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Wednesday, February 08, 2006
The Trinity.
As Christians we confess that God is a single Being who exists, simultaneously and eternally, as a communion of three persons: God the Father; God the Son; and God the Holy Spirit - "One God in Three Persons." All three are distinct and co-eternal "persons" that share a single Divine essence.

Men have tried to model this relationship ever since it was first understood, and most of us are already familiar, not only with the models, but the various weaknesses of the models.

Some use "water" as a model, because water can exist in three forms (solid, liquid, and gas) and still remains (chemically) water. That model fails to deliver however, since in order to be at once gas, liquid, and solid, an amount of water would have to be divided into three parts, and each part would not be equal to the whole (as is the case in the trinity).

Some use the "aging person" as a model, the same man being young, then mature, then old - but again, since he cannot be all three at once, this model fails.

Some use "time" - you know, past, present, future - but that is just silly, as there really is only one time (now). The past has existed, but no longer exists, and the future does not yet exist. The whole relationship just falls apart.

Some have rejected the doctrine of the Trinity because there is no "good" model in all of creation that allows for such a relationship. As believers, most of us understand that God is not bound by the laws that bind creation - as though the reality we see every day defines and limits God. We know that God exists outside of creation, and that creation is defined by God, and not vice versa. Thus we accept the Trinity even without having an earthly model that satisfies.

Not that this acceptance is a "blind faith" sort of deal, as though we were saying "We know it doesn't make sense, but we believe it anyway" - quite the opposite. We know that it does make sense, but that we lack perspective being bound (as we are) to the laws of creation. We accept that the rules which govern man, do not govern God - and in that understanding we see no contradiction in the Trinity.

That being said, I distain every physical model I have ever seen. God cannot be modeled physically! Even this morning as I was thinking about a "mathematical" model (involving the value "infinity"):

∞ + ∞ + ∞ = ∞


Yet even this model doesn't do much to explain the nature of the Trinity; yes, it shows (to those in possession of some mathematical savvy) that three infinite amounts are equally infinite, and that when combined they are no more infinite than any of the infinite amounts that went into the equation; but really, all it does is demonstrate a quantitative relationship. It deals with "quantity" rather than substance (that is, it shows that three values can be equal even if combined), but under genuine scrutiny we must admit even this does not make one infinity the same substance as the other infinities - all it does is show that the values represented are quantitatively equal - the purist might even argue that much.

What we are left with is this - God is Holy, Holy, Holy. Anything that is not God is by definition, creation; Should we be surprized then, that there is no model in creation that satifies our understanding of the Trinity? Of course not! The very fact that the Trinity defies any model lends profound credibility to it.

I thought it would be fun to share some of the silly models we have heard in our past. What do you think?
posted by Daniel @ 10:23 AM  
16 Comments:
  • At 12:43 PM, February 08, 2006, Blogger Julie said…

    This lovely post, like deep calling to deep, elicits from me the doxology. Isn't that lovely that God would be so lovely as to use you to do that for me? Thank you, but mostly I thank Him.

    Praise God from whom all blessings flow. Praise Him all creatures here below. Praise Him above ye heavenly host. Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost! Amen!

     
  • At 3:25 PM, February 08, 2006, Blogger Jim said…

    It must be truly frustrating for a reformed calvinist to not be able to prove something intellectually. :)

    Yes, our finite minds cannot fully fathom God, but one day we shall see Him as He is.

    What a day that shall be!

     
  • At 4:46 PM, February 08, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    It must be truly frustrating for a reformed calvinist to not be able to prove something intellectually.

    Har-dee-har-har. ;-D

    Sadly though, some people actually paint Calvinists like that... as if being a Calvinist meant that you were more interested in proving your point intellectually than in worshipping God in spirit and in truth.

    Pastor Bill Mcleod is perhaps the most zealous Calvinist I know. I just can't picture him in a role like that - can you?

     
  • At 5:38 PM, February 08, 2006, Blogger Jim said…

    I actually didn't really know where Pastor Bill stood on certain issues?

    I think you could probably nail anybody's particular theological persuasion with that saying. Contentiousness does not come from the Spirit of God but from the flesh. So yes I would agree that our goal and desire should be to worship Christ in spirit and truth.

    I think you would also agree that there are probably as many different calvinists as there are flavors of ice cream.

    I remember when I was young and the trinity was being explained. It was one of those things you had to believe by faith because we could simply not comprehend the depth of the Godhead, and is still like that today.

     
  • At 6:00 PM, February 08, 2006, Blogger Jennifer said…

    My daughter has a book that describes the Trinity like an apple. I never really liked this analogy as it seems even weaker than the water image. However, she found it helpful to at least gain an understanding of what was meant by one God, three persons. We will never fully comprehend the Trinity here on Earth. We may not in heaven either. But being able to picture it in some form in order to grasp that it does exist allows allows me to truly appreciate the awesomeness. If it could be described, then God wouldn't be worthy of worship.

     
  • At 6:58 PM, February 08, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    Jim - I would disagree on how many flavors of Calvinism there are. In fact, I would say that properly labeled there are only two forms of Calvinism, infralapsarian, and supralapsarian. Some argue that Amyraldianism is a "low" form of Calvinism - but they reject the particular nature of the atonement.

    Likewise, hyper-Calvinism is often lumped in with Calvinism - but that is like lumping evangelicals and Catholics under the umbrella of Christianity - the only people who do it don't know the difference.

    By and large most Calvinists are moderates (infralapsarian).

    We might be tempted, as some are, to label Calvinists as "1", "2", "3", "4", or "5 point" Calvinists. But that is a misnomer. The correct naming convention follows:

    1 Point Calvinist: Arminian
    2 Point Calvinist: Arminian
    3 Point Calvinist: Arminian
    4 Point Calvinist: Amyraldian
    5 Point Calvinist: Calvinist

    It might help to check out fide-o - they are currently discussing some of the distinctives of Calvinism.

     
  • At 7:28 PM, February 08, 2006, Blogger Kim said…

    One analogy that I have heard used is of an egg. There is the shell, white and yolk. Each is separate, but all together they make the egg. It worked well with 9 and 10 years old, but I think it had more to do with the fact they had the fun of cracking an egg.

     
  • At 9:12 PM, February 08, 2006, Blogger Jeremy Weaver said…

    The problem with the egg analogy is that the shell alone is not the full egg, just as the white and the yolk by themselves are not.
    Christ by Himself is fully God, just as the Father and Holy Spirit are. And yet they are not three Gods, but One. Therein lies the mystery.

    I'm glad I can't get my mind around it. We would have an exceptionally small God if I could!

     
  • At 9:27 AM, February 09, 2006, Blogger Susan said…

    I'm late to this discussion, but I just want to add that my son's bar mitzvah tutor, a messianic Jew, tried explaining the Trinity (not fully, of course, but in some small sense) to my then almost-13-year-old who, as a Jew, considered 'three Gods' akin to blasphemy. The tutor tried to explain that my son was at the same time flesh, spirit and soul - something to which he could relate - being fully all three at once. I liked that analogy.
    Of course we can't ever "explain" God, but it's good to reason and ponder these things. We need to accept things by faith, but also use the brains God gave us.

     
  • At 1:16 PM, February 09, 2006, Anonymous bobby grow said…

    Great topic. You all should read The Promise of Trinitarian Theology by Colin E. Gunton. An excellent work that discusses how the we in the West have so emphasized the "oneness" (i.e. substance) of the Godhead; that we have failed to engage the "threeness" as the Eastern church has done historically. I.e. the God-head is defined by the perichoretic intra-relationship of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This emphasizes the beautiful love relationship that we have been brought into (cf. I Cor 6:17); rather than emphasizing the un-moved mover of Western monarchical understanding (i.e. the mathematical attempt to get at the trinity, God as substance and quality; rather than person and relationship).

    This understanding of trinity also has profound impact given the reality of the imago dei. I could say quite a bit more, and have, I'll post on this over at my site in the near future.

    In Christ,
    Bobby Grow <><

     
  • At 5:10 PM, February 09, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    Sounds like a good read - I will check it out.

    Thanks Bobby,

     
  • At 6:57 PM, February 09, 2006, Blogger Jonathan Moorhead said…

    Berkhof:

    “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. It is the incomprehensible glory of the Godhead.”

     
  • At 9:49 PM, February 09, 2006, Blogger Shawn L said…

    Daniel,

    By ice cream flavors of calvinists I think he meant that the people involved are all very different in their personalities.

     
  • At 10:21 AM, February 10, 2006, Blogger Jim said…

    Shawn, exactly!!

    I do not doubt there may be two or three distinct theological definitions of Calvinism but the individual approach can be as varied as there are people.

    God bless,

    Jim

     
  • At 1:21 PM, February 11, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    I get it now - slow me.

    I wouldn't limit that sort of distinction to Calvinists though - it is true of all Christians, though even these I would split into two groups - "carnal" and "spirit filled."

     
  • At 9:02 PM, February 11, 2006, Blogger Gordon Cloud said…

    While you are right that all models fall short of a full explanation of the Trinity, I think the most accurate is man himself. As a trichotomy of body, soul and spirit he is created in the image of God in a way that no other creature is. Thus, he can relate to God in a way that no other creature can.

    Consider this, the soul corresponds to God the Father, our spirit to the Spirit of God, and of course our flesh to God the Son.

     
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