Talking About the Trinity

One of the most challenging concepts in Christianity is the doctrine of the Trinity: God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Perhaps you’ve struggled to explain how we can believe in one God who has three persons. Through the centuries, people have come up with some ingenious explanations for this doctrine.

One group, the modalists, believes God changed form through the ages. First, he was the Father, a warlike God who commanded whole nations destroyed by the Israelites. Then he became the Son during the Incarnation of Jesus. Finally, the third “mode” is the Holy Spirit. The modalistic view is heretical and makes the baptism of Christ into something strange. If there is only one mode, how could the Son be baptized while the Father speaks, and the Holy Spirit descends like a dove? Why are we commanded to baptize in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19)?

Another explanation of the Trinity denies the eternity of Christ, the Word of God. They teach only the Father is without beginning or end. The Son, Jesus Christ, has a beginning, and they deny the divinity of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is just the power of God working like some divine electricity.

So how do we explain the doctrine of the Trinity? We believe in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, yet we believe in one God. How does this make any sense at all? It doesn’t. There are some doctrines in the Bible that we call “mysteries.” They aren’t mysterious as we usually think about mysterious. They are simply given – like a mathematical axiom.[1] And, if we think about it very long, it should make sense that the things of God don’t make any earthly sense.

For example, can you imagine a world without time? Take off your watch. There is no past, present, or future in God’s world! That makes no sense on earth. Likewise, God is everywhere. He is not bound by space. We are. I’m here; I’m not over there. We are earthbound, but that doesn’t apply to the Lord. Now, do you see what I mean when I say it makes sense that some things of God make no sense?

There are two central Biblical mysteries: the Trinity and the Incarnation. The doctrine of the Trinity teaches we believe in one God, who is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The doctrine of the Incarnation teaches Jesus is 100% divine and 100% human. We can’t explain it, but we believe it.

Note: we believe in the mysteries of the Bible, but we do not believe despite the evidence (that’s just fairy tale faith). We believe because of the evidence. That still leaves us speechless and in awe of our amazing God!

  [1] If it’s been a while since you studied Euclidian Geometry, visit https://mathigon.org/world/Axioms_and_Proof on a excellent explanation of axioms.

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