How does this work for an analogy of the trinity?


(Alexander Meier) #1

So, a little context: My wife and I have been discussing recently how we both agree that we should avoid even trying to express the Trinity in an analogy because it usually leads to heresy. Ice-water-vapor (modalism) is a common one. Then today our preacher was talking about it in a very unhelpful, cringe worthy way.

This got my wife and me talking again. An analogy we like is a light source, its light, and its heat. A video by Tekton Apologetics on Youtube called “Try-outs for the Trinity” suggest this as the best analogy but also admits reasons to why it isn’t perfect, as no perfect analogy exists. This, however, without the admission of why it doesn’t work, is arguably Arianism, that Jesus and the Spirit were created. That’s heresy. I would never tell this analogy to anyone, so it isn’t very useful to me.

Then my wife said that if only it could be another quality of an eternal light, not the source…

What occured to me was the radiance (or intensity, or brilliance) of the light, the warmth of the light, and the reflection (?) of the light. The brilliance being a quality of the Father (shining, radiating), the warmth being the Spirit by which we experience or “feel” the light, and the reflection being the Son. Reflection is only observed upon its interaction with an object, so something about that idea seems fitting for Jesus, as He is the point in which God bridged the gap between Him and us.

I think the main problem here that I see is that it seems like maybe the three are a part of the light, forming the light. That’s at least arguable, though not necessary as I think it conveys that the three qualities share the same essence of being light while being distinct from each other. I dunno.

Do you think this could be helpful? What problems do you see with it?

(Jules) #2

I forget which I had heard Ravi Zacharias say this in, but I thought it was a very thoughtful analogy. (I hope that I am remembering it exactly, but pls forgive me if I leave out something.)

It was said in the context of how people think it obserd that the Trinity can exist (hence, three persons in one), when at the moment of conception the dna of the man is combined with the dna of the woman in which it forms a whole new entity. In this sense, it is like 3 in one also.

As per your question, I think it is somewhat confusing mainly because “light” is also complex in that there are many perspectives to it-- from a physics perspective, from an art perspective, from a practical perspective (e.g., lamp) or infered perspective, etc.
I think maybe it might help to look into it more, because I also do kinda get where you are going with it.

(David Thiessen) #3

I think that the problem with that analogy is that you are using attributes for the analogy. It would be similar to describing a rock as hard, strong, and dense. Just as a rock has other attributes, so does light.

An analogy that I have heard many times is the egg. The shell, the white and the yolk. Each part is distinct and each part performs a different function. While each part is distinct, each part is still egg. Very similar to the Egg analogy is the Apple analogy. Seed, flesh and skin.

I would agree that I do not like the forms of water analogy.

While no analogy is perfect, they can be used to express a specific feature/characteristic of God.

(Mark Gilliam) #4

There are inherent limitations on any analogy for the Trinity. Consider Isaiah 46:9 “…For I am God and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me…” It is impossible to perfectly analogize an eternal, infinite being with temporal, finite comparisons. The doctrine of the Trinity says that in some sense God is One and in some sense God is Three and of course we know God is a living spirit being. Therefore, the comparison of the Godhead with inanimate, temporal and finite matter or effects seems woefully inadequate. However, don’t worry, for God Himself gives us an excellent and perhaps the best analogy in Holy Scripture. The Scripture in Genesis 1:26, 27 teaches that man, male and female, was created in God’s image. Man, above all created things, in my view has the best hope of being an analogy to the Godhead. But there is more. God tells us in Genesis 2:24 that the man and woman shall become one flesh. Therefore, in the husband and wife relationship there is a sense of the man and woman being one and there is a sense of them being two. In a sense the woman is begotten from the man in that she is created from the man’s rib. Of course none in the Godhead are created - they are all eternal, but the Nicene Creed describes the Son as begotten. Expanding further God says in Genesis 1:28 to the couple to “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth…” Thus children are created which completes the analogy. A family is then in one sense one and in one sense three, father, mother, and children. The individuals have many different roles, but consider these - the father defends, the mother nurtures and the children fill the earth. Interestingly the children proceed from the mother and the father in a physical sense and in a spiritual sense if you hold the traducian view of the origin of the soul. They all should love each other just as love exists in the Godhead. Of course in our fallen condition we have family problems, but that is not God’s ultimate plan for the family. In the Godhead the Father, Son and Spirit all love each other and know each other completely. The love and relationship in the Godhead should be replicated in the family.

(Les) #5

One of the best comparisons I’ve heard is with Nitrate. I’m not going to go into the complete chemical breakdown so in a simplified tone; one molecule of Nitrate is three resonant structures all at the same time and never just one of them. They are three in one! I also heard Nabeel Qureshi, author of the book; “Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus”, explain the Trinity in a way that I really liked. He said; I am one being and also one person. God is One Being and three Persons. You cannot say that God is One person and 3 beings because that would be false, but One Being and three Persons really helps me personally to have a little better grasp on something that is so difficult for our finite minds to grasp.