Friday, September 26, 2014

The Trinity as three-leaf clover

Recently a friend posted a video of street evangelism in which she was sharing the Gospel with a Muslim. This Muslim young man didn't know much about the Bible and in the course of the convo asked "What is the Holy Spirit?"

My friend used the words "it is..." in her response and went on to try to explain the Trinity as three-leaf clover. Here's the comment I left under her video:
Thanks for the video! Just a few thoughts:

1) Don't refer to the Holy Spirit as "it". He is a person.
2) You used the three leaf clover analogy for the Trinity. I would recommend against using such an analogy.
Here is a small tongue-in-cheek reason not to use that analogy.

It's sarcastic humor. But it illustrates the underlying reason not to use that kind of analogy - the Holy Spirit is fully God, just as the Father and the Son are. They are distinct and yet co-equal, all sharing the essence of divinity equally and fully. The clover analogy does not express the godhead well enough. Of course any analogy fails, but where they fail in a really fundamental way, we should abandon them.

I much prefer to explain the Trinity to a Muslim like this - "The Bible is God's Word. The Qur'an affirms that it is. The Bible teaches that there is one God and only one. It also teaches that the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God, and that they are all distinct and yet there is only one God. This is a great mystery. We accept what the Bible teaches b/c it's what God told us." and kind of go from there, showing them in the Bible why we think that is true, if they ask.

A better analogy if you must use one is this: Imagine three balloons of equal size and shape. Each balloon is filled with the same air. Not the same AMOUNT of air. Literally the same air.
How is that possible? It's not, not in this physical universe. That's part of the point. The Trinity doesn't map all that well onto our physical, material experiences.

(HT: SyeTenB for the balloon analogy)


briand1 said...

You know Rho I cant agree with you on many things but you stand in front of abortion clinics and preach. If AHA wants to kill this plague, make abortion clinics conform to the same medical standards that Emergency rooms and Dentists do. Plan Parenthood is a business, you want to end it kill it at its source. I dont think you folks at AHA think like the world, I do and they are real blanks. Meet them at their own game, they want save reproductive services, well then provide them, they cant. Drag their sorry backside into court and let them say why they dont want save procedures for patients. That one provider you protest he is a total scum, so report him and get him shut down, if that does not work ask the media why they dont support healthy productive services. They want word games fine, play their hand. Yes be innocent of doves, but be as wise as serpents. I paid a very heavy price and it was well worth it. RHO I vehemently disagree with you on every single issue but this one.

Daniel said...

I like that balloon analogy.

Rhology said...


That would be entirely counterproductive. The abortionists will simply meet those standards and then will become that much harder to dislodge them.

Gary said...

The concept of a triune god, three persons in one god, was probably the first "harmonization" of the Christian religion. In order to maintain the claim that Christianity was the fulfillment of Judaism, Christians knew they had a problem when they declared the man Jesus to be God. Judaism only recognized ONE god.

To maintain monotheism, but now include Jesus with the Father as God, Christians developed a mind-blowing, nonsensical concept that convinced Christian followers but left Jews shaking their heads in disgust. To Jews, Christians are polytheists.

Gary said...

In John 8:17-18, Jesus quotes from the Law the necessity that evidence, to be valid, must be agreed upon by two witnesses. Jesus states that the two witnesses are himself and God. Two, not one. If Jesus was God, there was only one witness, and if Jesus says there are two, then he and God are not one.

John 10:30

“I, and my Father are one.” 31Again the Jews picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus said to them “I have shown you many great miracles from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?” 32″We are not stoning you for any of these,” replied the Jews, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God. ” 34 Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I have said you are gods?'” (see Psalm 82:6)

Trinitarians maintain that Jesus’ statement, “l and my Father are one,” demonstrates that Jesus was declaring himself to be God. The Greek word ἕν (one), however, does not imply being a part of the same substance. This is clearly illustrated in John 17:11 and 17:21-22, where in these passages Jesus prays to God that the disciples may be one (ἕν) as Jesus and God are.

Jesus is obviously requesting that the disciples be of one unified purpose, not of the same substance or part of the Trinity.

Moreover, John 10:30-34 is particularly revealing. The fourth Gospel claims that when the Jews heard Jesus proclaim, “I and my Father are one,” they immediately wanted to stone him to death. When Jesus asked why they wanted to kill him, the Jews responded because “you claim to be God.” Upon hearing this Jesus asked, “ls it not written in your Law, ‘I have said you are gods’?”

This response gives us Insight into the mind of the author of the Book of John, and should be instructive to Trlnltarians.

The verse quoted by Jesus is found in Psalm 82:6 where the Bible refers to judges who teach God’s divine Law as gods.

“I said, ‘You are “gods”; you are all sons of the Most High.'” (Psalm 82:6)

Moreover, the Torah identities Judges as gods (אֱלֹהִים) as well,

Then his master shall bring him to the judges הָאֱלֹהִים… for any kind of lost thing which 8 another claims to be his, the cause of both parties shall come before the judges (אֱלֹהִים); and whoever the judges (אֱלֹהִים) condemn shall pay double to his neighbor. (Exodus 21 :6, 22:8)

This title was bestowed on Jewish judges because they are agents of the Almighty’s divine law, not because they were actually God in any way. The Jewish Scriptures frequently refers to agents of God as a god.

For example, in Exodus 7:1 Moses is called a “god” because he was God’s representative to Pharaoh.

The New Testament never claims that Jesus is God, the Creator of the universe, but rather His subordinate representative.

Rhology said...

Yes, one God. Three persons. We want to believe what God revealed.
Be specific - what is nonsensical about it?

Who cares if Jews misrepresent Christian doctrine? They're wrong to do so.

John 8 - Jesus was referring to the Father as the 2nd witness.

John 10 - Yes, of course He was declaring Himself to be God.
Just because He uses the same word later doesn't mean the word retains the exact same meaning. Context matters just as much as etymology.

They wanted to kill Him b/c He was claiming to be God.

Those judges were elohim, but the Psalm goes on to say that they will die like men. You're quite mistaken about all this.

The New Testament never claims that Jesus is God, the Creator of the universe, but rather His subordinate representative.

You have a long way to go before you can prove this.