One of the most difficult aspects to the Christian faith is the notion of the Trinity. Our Jewish brothers and sisters really get tripped up on this. They do not see it in the Old Testament. However, once you understand the Trinity, you will find its ‘shadow’ everywhere in the Old Testament. It’s just the ‘coming to understand’ part of accepting the Trinity that causes many to stumble. The Trinity is not about the existence of three separate entities all claiming to be a god. It is that there are three separate roles or functions of God and they are treated as separate but one at the same time. I was teaching a class today which furthered the discussion I had in my post on, A Fuller Understanding of ‘The Word,’ and part of my lesson included a new way to look at Jesus’s place in the Trinity. Apparently, my analogy was effective as I several class members asked me to share my analogy here on The OYL. So, if you have a moment, I’d like to do just that.
We start by remembering that Jesus is Logos — the totality of all God’s Laws and Ordinances. Now, think of God, the Father, in terms of yourself. He, the Father, is what He is (I Am that I Am) just as you are what you are. Each of you represents the totality of everything of which you are made: body, mind, will, soul, etc.. Now think of Jesus as the sum of all the ways God says things should be. In relation to you, this would be the sum of everything you believe to be right or wrong, good or bad. It is the sum of every principle or ideal or notion you hold dealing with how you believe a person should live. But Jesus is more. So add the sum of everything you believe about how the world works, as well. Thus, Jesus is to God as the sum of everything you believe to be true is to you. Got it?
Now, God made His Logos into flesh, a man. This is Jesus: God’s Logos born fully man. Now, you cannot take everything you believe about how the world works and people should live and make it into another person, but you can write it all down into a book! So, think of Jesus as God’s Logos made into a book of flesh, and everything you believe about the way the world works and people should live as a book. Now, both — Jesus and your book — are separate things, but, at the same time, they are still one with each other: Jesus is God and your book is you. In other words, Jesus is separate from the Father, but He is still God, the Father. Just as your book of what you believe is still separate from you, but it is still you. Got that?
Now, when Jesus said He only does the Father’s will, and only testifies to what the Father tells Him, this is because He, Jesus, is God the Father, just in the form of a man. He, Jesus, is everything God, the Father, decreed about how the universe will work and how man should live. Jesus is the sum total of all God’s Laws. Just as your book is everything you believe about how the world works and the way people should live. Your book can only do or be what you wrote — because that is you and, thus, it makes your book you as well. And your book can only witness or repeat the things you wrote because it is you. Even though it is separate, it is not a person unto itself. It has no will, no thought, no ideas, no authority — it has nothing outside of you and what you wrote about what you believe. Jesus is like this (not the same, but like): Jesus is to God as your book is to you.
Now, think about the analogy we just created. If God, the Father, is not present, but Jesus is, then God, the Father, is still present. This is because Jesus is the sum total of the father’s Laws and Ordinances, His teachings, His ways. In the same way, if I have your book but you are not here, I still have you with me. Just as Jesus is the embodied Logos of God the Father, your book is a material representation of everything you believe about the world and way people should live. No one can change them. Yes, they can try to change the words in your book (or the Bible), but that is all they actually change. No one actually changes God’s Logos, nor can they change what you believe. Therefore, all something like this (i.e. changing the words in a book) all that actually does is create a false impression in the mind of the person who made the changes. It does not change the reality of God’s Logos or what you believe. This is because God’s Logos is part of Him, just as what you believe is part of you. Each is one with the whole: Jesus with God and your book with you. This leaves us with only one part of the Trinity left to explain — The Holy Spirit!
This is actually the easiest part. The spirit is that which animates you, which gives you life. When you die, your body does not die at the same time. You are said to die when your Spirit leaves your body, but your body lives on for a time. It actually takes days for every cell in your body to die. Therefore, biologically, when you die, your body does not. Whether people wish to admit it or not, this is actually evidence of the Spirit. So, your spirit is that which animates you. It is the part of you which allows you to work your will; to put your will into action. Now, God only has to speak and His will is performed, but it is still done through His Spirit. This is the Holy Spirit: that part of the Father which works His will. Now, you actually have to write or type or otherwise do something physical to write down your beliefs into your book, but this does not change the relationship. The Holy Spirit is to God the Father as your spirit is to you. Both enable the will to act. An, if you read Scripture carefully, you will find this is exactly what the Holy Spirit does: it performs God’s will. Jesus was conceived through an act of the Holy Spirit. In other words, Logos became man through an act of God’s will, His Holy Spirit. In the same way (not identical, but relational), your book becomes a reality because your spirit enables you to enact or execute your will.
This, then, is the whole notion of the Trinity: not three separate beings all claiming to be gods, but one God — the Father — working through three different aspects of His being (or three different manifestations of His being). At the same time, this also explains what Scripture means when it says we are made in His image. We have a body, mind (or will) and spirit (or soul). Now, there is more to this, as God has a three-fold nature to his character, so do we. We are made to worship, fellowship and create (in limited fashion), just as God created us to worship Him and fellowship with Him. The key here is not to limit God by thinking in terms of ‘either this and only this, or that and only that.’ Instead, we need to make God bigger in our minds by saying ‘this and that.’ If ‘this and that’ fir the pattern, then it applies. Thus, God is love and God is mercy, but God is also a perfect judge; and a perfect judge sentences the guilty without fail or mistake.
Thus, we are wrong not to think of God in terms of all three: love, mercy and judge. In the same way, we would be wrong to limit our understanding of how we are made in His image, and how we think or the Trinity. For, if He is God, He is infinite and unlimited in His power. Therefore, why shouldn’t the Father — if He so chose — manifest His being in three (or even more) ways? It seems to me that, for the infinitely powerful, this would be a simple thing. But for us, finite as we are in this world, it may not be so simple to understand…or maybe, to accept.