In yesterday's post I discussed the logic of non-contradiction and how the trinity does not violate that law. The trinity, to review, explains that God is one in his substance, the unity is in his essence (what God is) and the plurality is in his persons (how he relates within himself). Today, I'll give some illustrations of the trinity and a scriptural defense of it as well.
Illustrations of the Trinity
The illustrations given will be my attempt to show the unity of God while showing a simultaneous plurality. Hopefully, the following analogies will shine light on some misunderstandings. First, there is a misconception that believing in the Trinity is believing in three gods; doesn't 1 + 1 + 1 = 3? It does if you add them, but what if you multiplied one three times? Will you not get one? God is triune, not triplex. So, we can see from this that there is no mathematical contradiction to the Trinity.
Another illustration is the triangle, probably the most popular illustration of the Trinity. A triangle has three corners, inseparable, and simultaneous to one another. This explains the Trinity well in a simple way that is easy to remember. There is also a moral illustration suggested by Augustine. *The Bible informs us that "God is love" (1 John 4:16). Love involves a lover, a beloved, and a spirit of love between lover and loved. The Father might be likened to the lover, the Son to the beloved, and the Holy Spirit to the Spirit of love. This is a strong example because it is personal, in that it involves love, which comes from persons.
There is also an illustration based in human nature; the relation of the human mind, to its ideas, and the expression of those ideas in words. So we have mind to ideas to words. There is a unity among the three without having an identity, in that sense, the three illustrate the Trinity.* So I hope the above illustrations give a better understanding of the Trinity. In my opinion, they are great examples to share with others for their simplicity and they are also very illustrative.
Ah, here comes the part the critics have been salivating at the mouth for me to get to: the evidence in scripture. Are you ready? I'm ready to get into it too because there is good evidence in the Bible for the Trinity. I'm quite sure most Christians understand God as Father, there really isn't much debate on that so I'll start with the deity of Christ, or the Son of God and then end with the Holy Spirit.
The Son is God
Jesus claimed to be Yahweh God; YHWH translated in some versions Jehovah, was the special name for God revealed to Moses in Exodus 3:14, the "I AM WHO I AM," scripture. Jesus declared "Before Abraham was, I am," in John 8:58. That declaration claims equality with God and existence before Abraham. Also, when you couple the verses Luke 4:8, "And Jesus answered him, "It is written, "'You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve." and Hebrews 1:6, "And again, when he brings the firstborn into the world, he says, "Let all God's angels worship him," you see that God is the only being to be worshiped, yet the Son is worshiped in Hebrews 1:6, along with Joshua 5:13-15; Mark 5:6; John 9:38; Luke 24:52; Rev. 7:9, 10; and Phil. 2:10,11. In those verses the Son is worshiped, yet God alone is to be worshiped, so we can see that the Son is God.
Now, it's important to note that the Son and the Father are not two separate beings, for God is one being: "The Lord our God, the LORD is one" (Deaut. 6:4). Both Jesus (Mark 12:29) and the apostles repeat this formula in the NT (1 Cor. 8:4, 6). So, there is one being and that is God.
The Holy Spirit is God
The Holy Spirit is called "God" (Acts 5:3-4). Walter Martin explains the verse well, "The literal force of the Greek verb translated "to lie" is to impose a lie upon someone. In this case the someone was not men (verse 4) nor even Peter, but God in the Person of the Holy Spirit. The parallel of verses 3 and 4 clearly indicates that the Holy Spirit is a person and is God."
*The Holy Spirit possesses the attributes of deity: omnipresence (Ps 139:7-12) and omniscience (1 Cor. 2:10, 11). He is associated with God the Father in creation (Gen. 1:2). He is involved with other members of the Godhead in the work of redemption (John 3:5-6; Rom 8:9-17, 27-27; Titus 3:5-7). He is associated with other members of the Trinity under the "name" of God (Matt 28:18-20). Finally, the Holy Spirit appears, along with the Father and Son, in New Testament benedictions (for example, 2 Cor. 13:14).
Due to time constraints, I'll have to finish the rest of the Holy Spirit explanation in tomorrows post. I hope this survey of the Trinity has helped those of you out that are critical of the Trinity or skeptical about it because once understood, the doctrine of God is much tighter. Let me know if you have any questions in the comment section. Please comment on this post or the other post, "Logic of the Trinity." I'm always available because my phone alerts me of comments.
* Augustine, On the Trinity
* Walter Martin, King James Study Bible
* Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics