The Evangelical Universalist Forum

How Do You Explain the Trinity?

In the comments section of a blog post defending the Trinity, I found one of the best defenses of the Trinity I have ever seen. I came across this many years ago when I was still a Christian Unitarian (not a Unitarian Universalist, but rather what I liked to call a Biblical Unitarian). I had been lead by the Spirit to actually research the Trinity. This guy’s response is what convinced me the Trinity was true doctrine. The Blog post was How Do You Explain the Trinity?

Anyways, the response that I found really helpful, which convinced me of its truth, was a comment written by a guy from Montreal named Frank. Here is the full comment:

I fixed your link code, btw. (For this system, you don’t need to include the web address in quote marks, so I removed them.)

Are you looking for any criticism on this post? Because you’re likely to get some. Including from some Trinitarians.

Not looking for criticism particularly. Just conversation. When I found it last year, I found it very helpful as it enabled me to believe in the Trinity. If someone else doesn’t like it, for whatever reason (whether Trinitarian, modalist, or unitarian), they are free to discuss it. If someone else does like it, they are free to mention it.

Its a discussion forum, after all. :stuck_out_tongue:

It’s a good post. I don’t think it necessarily proves the Trinity, but it does illustrate the point that we see God revealing Himself in all of creation, and particularly revealing His Son, who is the image of the invisible God, Firstborn over all creation!

My own favorite image of the Trinity, which Paidion tells me I stole from one or other of the early church fathers is the picture of the sun. God gave this to me one morning as I was driving early to work, and the sun was in my eyes. I had been pondering the Trinity and what it was, etc. I think God means for us to ponder. He could have spelled out the faith in such a way as to leave no doubt, but this is part of us growing up and growing into Him, learning all these things directly from Him.

Anyway, I realized that the sun is invisible. No really – it is. If the sun did not put out any light, and if no light shone on the sun, you wouldn’t be able to see it. It would still be there, and you could feel it if you came close, but it would be invisible without the light it emits. So the sun itself is my picture of the Father, who IS, but who cannot be seen. The going forth of the energy from the sun, and the invisible bits, represent the Spirit; the interaction between the Father and the Son; the holy dance of love from all eternity. And the visible spectrum, the light and the warmth represent the Son, who is the precise image of the invisible God, who goes forth from Him (and always has done) and represents the Father to us.

And what’s more, God has invited us to join in that eternal dance of joy and warmth and light and love; to be one with Him and with one another. We who are His in this present age are to be a picture of His unity and depict His image to the world around us.

Blessings, Cindy

Okay, just wanted to make sure your feelings wouldn’t be hurt if someone mentions (for example) that the 1 John reference can only be traced back to the 4th century in Patristic citations (and those only in Latin and rarely so until the 6th century, despite the fact that it would have been hugely important for Christological controversies starting in the 4th century); doesn’t exist in any known text of scripture itself until the 6th century (still only in Latin, and with variations even then); doesn’t appear in any surviving ancient non-Greek or non-Latin texts; doesn’t appear anywhere in Greek until a Greek translation of a Latin account of the Lateran Council in 1215; occurs only in actual Greek texts of 1 John eight times in very very late texts (and in four of those it only occurs as a variant gloss added to the margin, sometimes centuries after the original copy of the text)–and so by overwhelming textual evidence was certainly not an original part of 1 John. :slight_smile:

(I figure a unitarian or a modalist, if we have any current modalist members on the forum, will mention this eventually, so it’s better if a trinitarian does it first.)

Also, there’s a big difference between suggestive but very limited analogies to the Trinity (although I’m fond of using 3D analogies for some limited purposes; and I’m also fond of Cindy’s analogy, which I’ve been working up to including in my novels), and arguing for the existence and characteristics of the Trinity, whether from scriptural testimony (which never features such analogies, so far as I recall–and I recall a lot of scriptural testimony on the topic :wink: ) or otherwise.

I’m glad you found this helpful. I’ve personally never struggled with the Trinity, but I think that is God’s blessing to me, rather than anything to do with my comprehensive abilities lol.

I don’t want to be discouraging as you found this so helpful. So I’ll just recommend that you continue in your Trinitarian studies. I think if you do, you’ll find an even firmer foundation. I am trinitarian, and I can see places where the poster has not researched his/her topic very well and I think you might come across people in your life who would swipe this rug out from under you, so to speak. A well known example, that you probably already know, would be using 1John 5:7. A verse virtually universally acknowledged to be a copyist error and not found in any Greek manuscripts before, I think, the 14th century.

But reading of the wonders He has instilled in His creation is always awesome!!!

God is not defined nor can He be, by a 4 dimensional world. He steps into it and that is the only way we can recognize Him. Flatlandish kind of stuff. Jesus was God in a three dimensional world.

I think he’s made a decent case for modalism. Aside from that, there are a number of problems. These are mainly slightly more sophisticated versions of St. Patrick’s Shamrock example.

I’ve come to think of God as being a tripartate Being, similar to man being a tripartate being of spirit, soul, and flesh. Thus I would not say I believe in “Trinity”, three persons in one God, or one God in three persons, but 3 different parts of 1 God. So it’s not modalism, per se, but maybe “Triunity.” But I could be wrong.

I love it. I don’t know how many theories there are, but all but one is wrong, and the best one is probably wrong to some degree.

Yes, we humans don’t even understand our own cosmoligical makeup, why then do we think we could fathom the depths of God’s! Amoung Jesus disciples/followers some are Oneness, Binitarians, and Trinitarians, and most aren’t passionate one way or the other. I don’t think it’s an issue that should separate us though. Rather, in humility we’ll find unity.

What about unitarians? Do you consider them disciples of Jesus? I am just curious as to your opinion.

I have a brother who has a very high view of Christ. He believes that Jesus is the literal Son of God, since the Holy Spirit impregnated Mary, but does not believe that he is God. He lives his life with daily prayer and Bible reading, trusts upon Christ to take care of him in this life and the next, and loves God and Jesus Christ with all his heart. Would you consider him a disciple of Christ?

I disagree that this is a case for modalism. Modalism teaches that there is only one person/being known as God, and that he has revealed himself in three different modes. The Trinity states that there are three different persons in one being, known as God. Each person is distinct, yet are one being. In the example that “Frank of Montreal” gives (the one I quote above), space, time, and matter are all distinct of the others.

In short, yes. He’s a follower of Jesus’ example and has faith in Jesus for his salvation. Coming from an evangelical background, being “born of the Spirit”, “born again” wass a vital step in my spiritual journey as well as being baptized in the Spirit (Pentecostal style), so I’d likely ask him concerning his personal relationship with the Lord and how the Spirit influences his life in the present. And we might talk about why he doesn’t believe Jesus and God are one, but I wouldn’t let his differing beliefs from me on that drive a wedge between us. Shoot, he might be right and I wrong.

I’ve come to the place where loving God and loving people is truly enough for me and if someone claims Jesus, shoot, I claim them. In fact, I claim everyone as my brother in Christ though some don’t know they are children of God yet and have not yet experienced His grace and love!

It’s not that I don’t think what I believe is true, it’s just that I recognize, really recognize, that I could be wrong. And I also recognize that I would not be where I am today in my spiritual journey if not for God intervening and saving me, turning the lights on, and filling me with His Spirit. So I trust in God to draw people and reveal Himself to them. And if a person hasn’t had that revelation yet, I give them the benefit of the doubt and wonder whether or not the Lord has chosen, elected them for salvation at this time. I believe that salvation is wholly the work of the Lord. I just try to work with Him in sharing His love and grace.

I was raised in a very EXCLUSIVE church. We didn’t know for sure we were saved but we were pretty sure everyone else wasn’t (funny but true)! Today, because of my understanding and experience of the grace, forgiveness, and love of God, if I err, I err on the side of INCLUSION.

I recall, several years ago I was on the phones raising support for a ministry I work with. A man called in and every other word was GD this and GD that. I would usually hang up on such callers but this time I found myself letting the man vent his frustration for a couple minutes. Finally, before I realized what I was saying, I interupted him, saying, “Sir! Sir! Sir!” He responded, “What!” And I said, “Sir, God is NOT in the Damning buisness! He’s in the Saving business! And He’ll save your soul today, if you’ll Repent!” And he hung up.

God truly is not in the damning business, but is in the saving business. Jesus did not come to destroy people but to save them! He came to seek and save those who are lost, which covers about everyone, I believe!

I ROARED when I read that, Sherman! Priceless!

Brother, do I understand that! I made the decision about a year and a half ago that when I would read the Bible and try to discern Christ’s will for me, that I would err on the side of His grace and love, rather than condemnation and fear. Doing that opened my heart and mind to UR.

As far as Trinitarian beliefs go, I’m not very concerned what a particular person believes about it (although I do love the deep discussions about it), it means more to me to see how a person lives their life towards their fellow man. I now attend a Disciples of Christ congregation, and we speak the first line of the Disciples of Christ’s statement of faith each Sunday: “We believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, and proclaim Him Lord and Savior of the world.” The rest of the statement of faith speaks about each member of the Godhead, but makes no claim as to the nature as triad or monad. Doctrinal things of that nature, especially ones that could have the possibility of causing division in the church, are left up to the conscience of the individual. And, as I have put out some blog posts, and discussions to members there, I’ve have more than just a suspicion that I’m not the only one in the building wading in the EU pool! :wink:

And yet, so are the three modes of the modalist model distinct, else why would there be a need for three modes? There are very fine distinctions between modalism and trinitarianism, which is why so many self-professed trinitarians are practical modalists in how they think about God.
The problem with both is that they are both (IMO) faulty models of what the scripture actually teaches.
I’d personally rather just believe what the scripture actually says, and not try to pin a label on it.

It is a clever argument, but 1 Cor. 15 is clear that God doesn’t become All in all, until the Son himself subjects himself to God. “whenever He may be giving up the kingdom to His God and Father” (24) "then the Son Himself also shall be subjected to Him … that God may be All in all. (28) Just a chapter earlier Paul says “Now I want you to be aware that the Head of every man is Christ, yet the head of the women is the man, yet the head of Christ is God” Notice it does not say the head of Christ is the Father, it says his head is God himself. The scriptures are very clear that Christ is not God. The glory of Christ is that he directed us to his God, and God’s greatest title is “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ”

Sorry, the Scripture I quoted is from Chapter 11, not 1 Cor. 14

… and I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads… (Rev. 13:1)

I once heard one of Jehovah’s Witnesses state that the Trinity is a beast with three heads.

Hi Byron

Thank you for that excellent article!
With regards energy being made of “time, matter and space” - we can go one level deeper and embrace the whole of reality in the threesome:
Mind, matter and Maths (or to be consistent with your article, your author might put it 'mind, energy and math).

God bless