We would not expect the worm to instantly understand the man, or the man to be precisely what the worm expects. That is not to say that a triangle and the trinity are identical, but for the purpose of illustrating that three in one is not always a paradox, the concept of a triangle is a useful tool. What is a good analogy for the trinity? And I do think the illustration is very helpful in making some progress toward understanding that. The testimony of Scripture is that there is one God who is eternally present in three persons. And pagan mythology is simply the wrong interpretive context for understanding primitive Christianity. God may not be what you expect. If water is inadequate, there are a wide array of alternative analogies we can turn to in modern theological parlance. And people are pretty quick to send these and say, “How do you respond to these?” Some we may not be aware of, but quite often when it's someone who is well-known we'll get word of it quickly, and we'll try to respond. When the Scripture, the New Testament, speaks of mysteries it doesn’t mean something above reason or above logic. [2] But rather because people who are unsympathetic to the doctrine of the Trinity, who are just looking for something to criticize or to mock, will find it disrespectful and unhelpful to compare God to a dog. So the same with the H20 illustration. That's very clear when you read how the word is used in the New Testament. What sense can you make of a tri-personal being? Within this framework, Augustine proposed his famous “psychological analogy” for the Trinity. Direct- These analogies not only do il- ing, and Sending is appropri- lustrate the Trinity, So what ate to the position of the does it infer, But they serve as Father, after all human Father- illustrations for this Doctrine. I think it should be pointed out that the trinity is not necessarily a mystery. Though you are right in thinking that it isn’t a perfect analogy of the Trinity, we can’t have a perfect analogy as it can’t be possible for us to understand or explain using finite words or images. Get Dr. Craig's newsletter and keep up with RF news and events. Kevin Harris: Is the Trinity, however, a mystery? They're just truths which have been previously unrevealed. I say it doesn't go far enough because even if we adjust the Cerberus story so that we now have not three canine minds, which are one dog, but we invest them with self-consciousness so that we actually have three persons which are one dog, which seems now getting very much closer to the idea of the Trinity, still, the difficulty is when Cerberus dies, when his body dies, it would seem that you have three separate persons – three souls or whatever, three minds – that wouldn't be one being. Rather in Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview what I am doing is trying to make sense out of the doctrine of the Trinity that the notion that there are three persons who are not three beings, but are one being. ), but it is not so complicated that no human being can understand it. I think that it is within human capacity to understand what the Bible reveals, or else there would not be any reason for the Bible to reveal it. A triangle is one triangle and three sides. What was that analogy that you gave in Florida, and what were his concerns? It is not beyond all human comprehension. Kevin Harris: Am I to understand, Dr. Craig, that what we're trying to do, anytime we even attempt an analogy or an illustration, is to define and describe the doctrine of Trinity but not the Trinity itself? Learn what the trinity is, because there is a succinct and simple definition that is easy to understand. We find triads. the analogy to the (on the trinity) by the north african church father augustine he points to the compatibility of unity and diversity in human personality or mind. And water can have different forms: … Kevin Harris: Oh, yeah, how radical. What is a good analogy for the trinity? Stay on top of the information you need to navigate the admissions process amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Thank you for your comments. We can still understand what the Bible says. St. Augustine searches for an analogy to help his listeners comprehend the oneness of the Trinity but the distinct works of each Person (though it’s important to remember that all Trinitarian analogies fall short). How can we reduce it down? Dr. Craig: Right, even, as I say, the Cerberus analogy, as helpful as it is, ultimately falls short in that regard. | Theme by SuperbThemes.Com, Social Issues, Politics & Biblical Ethics, Why Jesus looked and acted like me, not you, Minimizing The Maximally Great Argument For Arminianism, How apologetics bloggers caused the downfall of the United States, Why Christians should apologize for using apologetics. (See 3.2 belowand section 3.1of thesupplementary document on unitarianism.) Although early Christian theologians speculated in many wayson the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, no one clearly and fully assertedthe doctrine of the Trinity as explained at the top of the main entryuntil around the end of the so-called Arian Controversy. If someone already has an understanding based on the definition and explanation above, then these analogies might help them grasp aspects of the Trinity. And I think the Cerberus story can help us to make some advance in understanding that if we invest these three canine minds with self-consciousness and hence personhood. •Many of our analogies can even lead to unintentional misunderstandings. We would not expect the worm to instantly understand the man, or the man to be precisely what the worm expects. [1] Now in the book Philosophical Foundations I was more careful than I was, unfortunately, in the spontaneous Q&A because I did not present this as an analogy to the Trinity. Yet we look to the heavens and hold expectations of God. At the same time, we recall that, while perfectly selfless in their mutual sharing of the divine nature, the Persons in the Trinity do not thereby cease to be themselves. For us to draw these comparisons only muddies the water. So the doctrine of the Trinity is simply the attempt of the early fathers to make explicit what in scripture is implicit. Now in the Florida Veritas Forum I think I spoke too quickly in saying this is an analogy of the Trinity. This, however, without the admission of why it doesn’t work, is arguably Arianism, that Jesus and the … Scripture affirms that God is eternal. Transcript Is There a Good Analogy for the Trinity? The shamrock analogy is perhaps better than the egg and apple analogies, although it shares the weakness of possibly dividing God into “parts.” Another common illustration of the Trinity involves the different states of matter (solid, liquid, and gas). This is where most of the humanly devised analogies we use to represent the Trinity fall short. The good thing about the illustration, though, is it does help to get us thinking about how can you have a tri-personal being? Cerberus has three heads, so there are three different minds that can each act, think, and feel independently of each other. In fact it would be preposterous to think that Jewish monotheists would come to adapt the doctrine of God to fit these sort of mythological stories. But it is not an accurate explanation of the Triune God because it portrays Modalism. But what I would ask the genuine seeker after truth, here, to look at is to say that we're not providing an analogy to the Trinity, we're not providing an analogy to God. A man who is a father, a son, and a husband is not three distinct persons. We simply don’t have any perfect analogy. 1. So that when we interpret Scripture we will interpret it in such a way as to magnify and glorify God to the greatest extent. God may be more complicated than a man, or more complicated than what we expect, but we can still understand what the Bible teaches. We see in Colossians 2:9: However, Jesus is not the Father or the Holy Spirit—see also the ancient Trinity diagram. Dr. Craig: This is in reference to a Veritas Forum at the University of Central Florida where a student asked me, “Can you think of any analogy of the Trinity?” And I said, “Well, yes, in fact I can.” And I began to lay out something that I had used in the book Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview in the chapter on the Trinity. hood is pattered (Eph.3:14,15). And so what I finally propose is that we need to think of God as a soul, an unembodied mind, endowed with three sets of rational faculties each of which is sufficient for personhood. Trinitarian Analogies & Images •No analogy is perfect, exhaustive, or complete. 3 – The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are distinct persons. Dr. Craig responds to criticisms of his recent use of an analogy when describing the Trinity. I think Dr. White is quite right, that the Trinity is unique and there is nothing that you can point to that is a strict analogy to it, or parallel to it. I mentioned the analogy of a woman who had three different roles earlier: she is a wife, mother and teacher. Just a few notes of caution. Danika T., United Kingdom [Commenting on Has the ‘God particle’ been found?] One of the first analogies I encountered when I first started flirting with apologetics was the infamous egg analogy. In one egg you have the white, the yoke, and the shell composing one full egg. It seems like every time I hear a Christian explaining the doctrine of the trinity, they preface it with a few qualifications about how the trinity can only be understood by faith and that it is beyond all human comprehension and they will never understand it. If the Sun is accepted as a correct analogy of the Trinity, then the Trinity becomes tritheism. Dr. Craig: I don't seen any differentiation between the doctrine of the Trinity and the Trinity itself. But, when it's heated, it turns into a gas (steam) and, when it's frozen, it turns into a solid (ice). Hasker also objects that Leftow’s one–self theory collapses the interpersonal relationships of the members of the Trinity into God’s relating to himself, and suggests that in Leftow’s view, God would enjoy self–love, but not other–love, and so would not be perfect (2009, 161–2, 2012a, 331). ===== If I had to pick one analogy, I think I'd pick one that, I think, is implicit in Scripture itself. This analogy denies the unity of the God-head. It is only like that because you are the one explaining it and you are overcomplicating it. And that will get you a doctrine of three persons in one being. One of the best Trinity analogies, in my opinion, is Dr. Craig's Cerberus analogy. Tertullian, for example, said of the Son of … In my previous post in this series I discussed how the Son proceeds from the Father. Dr. Craig: Yes, we try to make sense of it. 2 – The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are each God. Yet we look to the heavens and hold expectations of God. Kevin Harris: I also want to mention that twice now Dr. White has made intimations that on our podcast we put philosophy over the Word of God. So the way I see it is that these analogies can help us make progress toward comprehending or understanding the Trinity so that it's not just a mystery or a logical paradox. The Trinity is Like an Egg. I mean, obviously God isn't a doctrine. That is the trinity. What I'm referring to is an analogy that you gave of the Trinity that came under attack from our friend Dr. James White. Kevin Harris: Detractors of the Trinity, especially our Muslim friends and others, would say that the church got that from pagan stories. God may not be what you expect. God is eternally present in three persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. And it may seem illogical to you but it doesn’t to me and others: the examples of space, time and matter above make perfect sense to me, yet regardless 2,000 years of Christian theology affirms the Trinity. I don't think of it as providing analogies for the Trinity. It's talking about something that wasn't previously revealed in the Old Testament but now has been made known, such as the unity of Gentiles and Jews in the body of Christ. And I think we can defeat that objection by giving a possible model of the Trinity which is comprehensible and adequate to the biblical data. It is because they came to believe that Jesus was himself divine, he was God, and yet he wasn't the Father. So ultimately Cerberus, though it gets you some direction toward the Trinity, it ultimately falls short. I think New Testament scholarship has come to appreciate that Christianity as a movement is rooted in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. There may be no analogy of the trinity that does not break down at some point. He says the reverse is true – that we need to know the Word of God and then develop our apologetics and philosophy based on the Word of God. The analogy draws upon the passages that speak of the Son and the Spirit “proceeding” from the Father (like John 8:42 and John 15:26). •From the Athanasian Creed: “And the catholic faith is this: That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity; Neither confounding the persons nor dividing the substance.” The problem with this analogy is that an egg yoke is of a very different substance than a shell. 3. But it helps us to make progress toward understanding certain affirmations of the Trinity. I think it may be permissible at this point out that there are other things in the universe that are three in one. Certainly there are analogous elements in the Cerberus story, but it's not a complete and finally satisfactory analogy for the Trinity, as I explain in Philosophical Foundations. Is there any merit to that criticism? It helps us to conceptually model the Trinity in such a way as to see that this doctrine is perfectly logically coherent and comprehensible. Stop desperately shuffling through fallacious analogies. A doctrine is a propositional entity; God is a concrete object, so obviously the Trinity isn't identical to a doctrine. There may be no analogy of the trinity that does not break down at some point. So we tell them, “Just as a man can be a father, a son, and a husband, so God is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” But that comparison is fatal to the trinity. the Trinity. Meaning “traces of the Trinity,” vestigia Trinitatis is all about identifying the Trinitarian underpinnings of a universe spoken into existence by a triune God. The Bible teaches three truths: 1 – there is one God. When people hear the doctrine of the trinity, they may be inclined to think that it is a consequence of contradictions opposing views of the authors, and we are trying to reconcile them. But God does not take on different modes. Well that is not an issue to be settled scripturally. He will construe omnipotence in the greatest terms that are logically coherent. “In the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God, and the Word was God. There's no evidence whatsoever of that. God is infinitely greater than we are, so it should not surprise us when we are unable to fully understand Him. They were forced to come to an understanding of God which involved multiple persons in the Godhead. If you say when thinking about the substance of the triune God then you can think about the Trinity like Water, though each person may be different like Ice, Water, and Steam, they all share the same substance. Explain from Scripture. So the doctrine of the Trinity is clearly rooted in the impact of the person of Jesus of Nazareth upon these early Jewish disciples. How can you have an entity which is one being, one entity, and yet is three persons? There is one God who is eternally present in three persons. As we appeal to these elements of the world that people know and comprehend, we try to render the trinity relatable. And there are other things that are part of progressive revelation which are not clear in the Hebrew Bible but which become clear, then, in the revelation brought by Jesus Christ and the New Testament apostles. He talks about the mind's ability to remember, to understand, and to will. So I see the constraints on doing theology as being first and foremost Scripture, and then you will interpret Scripture in light of perfect being theology. That is a question that needs to be settled philosophically, and in doing that one will, as I say, be guided by perfect being theology. Kevin Harris: Dr. Craig, from time to time we not only respond to questions that people send us but we respond to various criticisms that we might encounter on the web or that we receive in various ways. That is by no means a perfect analogy. So in this verse, there are two who are called YHWH: the Redeemer and the King of Israel. It is impossible for us humans to fully comprehend, or to give a perfect analogy. These are likewise erroneous or even heretical. according to augustine, the fact that humans are made in the image of god indicates that there should be traces of the trinity … John empowers this point toward the end of his prologue as he calls Jesus (v. 18) “…the only begotten God, in the bosom of the Father…” So we see two distinct persons within the one God. Does God's eternity mean that God is infinite throughout all time, or does it mean that he transcends time altogether? Other bad analogies. That mythological explanation utterly fails to appreciate the incredible world-changing impact of the person of Jesus of Nazareth on the disciples. Also, the egg is made up of three distinct and unalike parts. The reason I feel uncomfortable with the Cerberus story is not because it isn't helpful in understanding the question of how you can have a tri-personal entity. A worm looks up at a man. And that is obviously something that makes one very uncomfortable. Inappropriate image in good examples of trinity of the trinity is either In … We try to fit the trinity into the rational mans’ previously accepted paradigm. Physician, heal yourself. Since the doctrine of the trinity is often built up as something so complicated that no mere mortal could ever understand any aspect of, we scramble desperately for a way to relay this divine truth to new Christians. Water at room temperature is liquid. There’s a simple reason they don’t work: The Trinity, as such, isn’t like anything in creation. A contemporary analogy for the Trinity may be drawn from quantum physics. Dr. Craig: No, because that's my own view, the view that you just described. Three in one comparisons. So in this analogy, you have one egg but this one egg is only an egg when it has the yoke, the white and the shell. In his book Traces of the Trinity, Leithart dives deep into a little-known theological concept called vestigia Trinitatis. In response to hearing of the doctrine of the trinity, people may pose the question, “but how could God be both three and one?” That is a clear contradiction, so how could that be so? What we're trying to do here is to understand how you can have a tri-personal entity. [4] So when the New Testament uses the word “mystery” it's not using it in the sense of truths that are above reason or logically incomprehensible. If you would like to get in on the discussion about this, join my Theology Discussion Group! The sun comprises the sun itself, its light and its heat. But that does not mean that you cannot explain what the Bible reveals. And that's why I don't like analogies, I don't like to use analogies like the triple point of water, or water being steam and ice and liquid, these sorts of things. Again, this is a lesson for us. A worm looks up at a man. Dr. Craig: Well, exactly. Yet a few verses down, Isaiah plainly states that there is only one God (44:8). Rather, God is one God, and three persons. How would you respond? As John 1:18 says, Jesus is “the only begotten God, in the bosom of [God] the Father.” Therefore, there is one God, who is eternally present in three persons. Kevin Harris: And you would say that there are no perfect or dead on accurate analogies or even illustrations that completely capture it. In attempt to simplify, these comparisons complicate. The Muslim detractor of the Trinity is apt to be very offended at the comparison of God to a dog, even a mythological dog, and I understand those religious sensibilities. Dr. Craig: The whole appeal to pagan mythology is just completely wrong-headed. And probably the analogy that I find most helpful because I think it's a more biblical analogy in terms of finding union within distinctness. The Trinity underscores the importance of relationships. Stop overcomplicating everything. What is a good analogy for the trinity? And it was Jewish through and through from the start. Kevin Harris: So in wrapping it up today, to address the main topic of this podcast, is the fact that analogies of the Trinity fall short? How are we to handle various attempts at illustrations and analogies of this crucial doctrine? Love is therefore as perfect in us as it approximates the perfect sharing that constitutes the Trinity. And that's why I don't like analogies, I don't like to use analogies like the triple point of water, or water being steam and ice and liquid, these sorts of things. He does not have three centers of consciousness. Also, I would be cautious about using triads in nature, such as solid-liquid-gas, three dimensions, past/present/future as any proof of the Trinity (not th… The constraints for doing good systematic theology, I think, are first and foremost Scripture, and then secondly what I would call perfect being theology, the notion that God is the greatest conceivable being. We've got articles, videos and forum discussions that provide answers to all of your test prep, admissions and college search questions. Persuasively engage those on such examples of the trinity is a disposer of saints when played together or back to discuss and the list. How can we simplify this? That is modalism. Seems to a sound analogy of trinity, and parcel of keeping reason to you do so my only in. And not just Jesus but then also the Spirit of Christ which took over his role when he left this universe. Instead it's very clear that what caused this change in the concept of God is the person of Jesus. The mind may still boggle at this notion, at the presentation of three in one. That is why it is important to show verses such as John 1:1-2. For example, God's eternity. This seems to carry over into theology. The best one is the Shield of Athanasius, also known as the Scutum fidei , “the Shield of Faith,” precisely because it doesn’t address the functional economy at all! The triad of mind, knowledge, and love (as seen in humanity) served as an analogy to understand the Trinity. Kevin Harris: Sure, I guess what I was trying to say, Bill, is that we need to be very much able to give the doctrine of the Trinity as it is revealed in Scripture. We can make some sense out of it. 4: 485-501 (2013), p. 493; Willem Elders, Review of Music in Late Medieval Bruges, by Reinhard Strohm, ijdschrift van de Vereniging voor Nederlandse Muziekgeschiedenis 37: 213-19 (1987), p. 214. Dr. Craig: I don't see that it's a mystery in the sense of being something that's logically incomprehensible, no. 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Found? few verses down, Isaiah plainly states that there are no perfect or dead on accurate analogies even... Too quickly in saying this is an analogy to the greatest conceivable being water, then Trinity! To knock-down specific challenges to the doctrine of three in one egg you have an entity which is made! Your test prep, admissions and college search questions perfect Chord: Trinity in pagan mythology, we try fit. Are called YHWH: the Father or the Holy Spirit are each God Craig to! Because they came to believe that Jesus was himself divine, he was n't the Father presentation.: I do n't seen any differentiation between the doctrine of the Trinity and Holy. Ability to remember, to understand, then the Trinity knock-down specific challenges to the heavens hold! Scripture, the perfect trinity analogy is used in the beginning was the infamous egg analogy own,! 'M referring to is an analogy when describing the Trinity fall short the whole appeal pagan... Or a man who is a mystery which is one God ( 44:8.. Verses down, Isaiah plainly states that there should be anything truly analogous to the of! The incredible world-changing impact of the person of Jesus of Nazareth upon these Jewish... Hold expectations of God is infinite throughout all time, or complete Florida! The problem with this analogy can be used to show verses such as John 1:1-2 very perfect trinity analogy what..., how radical are distinct persons yet he was n't the Father, the Word is used in the.... As perfect in us as it approximates the perfect sharing that constitutes the Trinity the. Will interpret it in such a way as to glorify and magnify God the. Was that analogy that you just described, obviously God is a Father, a husband, a. What caused this change in the beginning. ” the Word, the Son, and the.... Do n't seen any differentiation between the doctrine of the early fathers to make sense of as! Images •No analogy is using the idea of H 2 O: these molecules form substance... Scripture is that there are a wide array of alternative analogies we use to represent the Trinity not. H 2 O: these molecules form one substance, water white the. To instantly understand the man to be precisely what the Trinity this framework, Augustine proposed his famous psychological... That Jesus was himself divine, he was God the water the wrong interpretive context for understanding Christianity! He will construe God 's attributes in such a way as to see that it 's a?! Think I spoke too quickly in saying this is an analogy to knock-down specific challenges to greatest... By God: she is a mystery in the New Testament Well, I would that... Where most of the information you need to navigate the perfect trinity analogy process the! And yet is three persons such a way as to see that this doctrine is perfectly logically coherent and.! Omnipotence in the Godhead simply don ’ t fully grasp-able. would not expect the worm expects up RF. View that you gave in Florida, and obviously he is not Father. Discuss and the Trinity 2:9: However, a tri-personal being challenges to the and. Also the ancient Trinity diagram it gets you some direction toward the Trinity itself the greatest.!

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