Section 1: God
Week 3: God Exists As Trinity
Day 4: The Trinity Transcends All Comparisons
Matt. 28:16-20, 2 Cor. 13:14, Eph. 3:14-19
It’s hard for us to fully get our minds around the doctrine of the Trinity. That’s why we sometimes resort to analogies. We hope they will give us a clearer picture of what it means to say God is three in one. Popular analogies include the three-leaf clover; a tree, which is made up of three parts (roots, trunk, and branches); and a person who takes on three different roles in his life (father, lawyer, and husband).
However, we need to recognize that each of these analogies falls short in important ways. If we don’t, we’ll wind up with a distorted understanding of the Trinity. Take the three-leaf clover. It’s true the clover is made up of three parts, yet is one clover. But it falls short of being an accurate picture of the Trinity because each individual leaf is only one-third of the clover. That’s not how it works with the Trinity. The Father does not make up one-third of God, the Son another third, and the Holy Spirit the final third. Each person is fully God. The three leaf clover can’t quite capture that truth. The tree analogy suffers from the same defect.
The image of the person who is a father, lawyer, and husband falls short because it gives us a picture of one God who takes on three different roles. If you think back to our earlier discussion on modalism, you’ll remember the Church has historically rejected that view in the strongest terms because the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are distinct individuals, not mere roles God plays at different times.
In the end, we have to come to grips with a simple fact. God’s existence transcends our understanding.
Have you come across these sorts of analogies before? Have you heard other analogies used to describe the Trinity? Did you think they were adequate? Why/Why not?
Summarize in your own words what is lacking in each of the above analogies. Take a moment to praise God that he is greater than anything to which we might compare him.