A Fear of Whales

TrinityI was just an an outreach for international students where the speaker was a local church pastor. One of the students was bothered by the concept of the trinity, so the pastor tried to explain it.

“It’s like your family” he said “You and your parents and your siblings are all different people, but you are united together as one family. In the same way the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are different people, but they are all together. “God” isn’t one person, it’s just his nature, like how your nature is human”

Luckily the student did not understand, because that is exactly wrong.

That is a heresy called tri-theism. The same heresy that is central to Mormon theology. There is not so much 1 God as 3 gods all of whom are on the same team.

I came up and talked to him afterwards, expecting that he would realize he miscommunicated in the difficult cross cultural setting, but no, That actually is his theology. God is like a family.

Obviously the trinity as very unique, and explaining it adequately is difficult. But this is getting out of hand. People are actually believing that their bad analogies are the truth, and teaching others. While we might not have a great idea of how to explain what the truth is, but we do have a good idea about what is false. Tri-thiesm is false. Christians are monotheistic.

Modalism is also false. Modalism denies the “threeness” where tri-theism denies the “oneness”. it says there is only 1 god with 3 different modes, or 3 different aspects. The father is the son, and the holy spirit is the father, They are all just different parts, or different aspects of one god.

Do you believe that God is like an egg, with a shell and a white and a yolk? You are a modalist

Do you think it’s like water (solid, liquid, gas) or a Pastor (Father, Husband, Pastor) or a person with DID or Mitt Romney? Then you are not a Christian! You are denying the trinity!


“Okay Ryan” You’ll say “what’s your solution then?” I always say I won’t complain about something without offering an alternative. “If all of these are bad, what analogy for the trinity can we use?”

Well I still say that no analogy is perfect and I’d rather teach it the way the church fathers did (by actually explaining what it is and what it isn’t without any analogy as I did above) But if you are pressing me for an analogy here is the best one I have: The trinity is like Darth Vader

Darth_VaderVader was most famously played by James Earl Jones, But JEJ never played Vader in person, he just provided the characteristic voice. Vader was actually played by David Prowse, who wore the suit. If you met him in the Vader suit you would be looking at the real Vader from the movies Or was he? We never saw his face. Anakin was played by Sebastian Shaw. Anakin is Vader, so Sebastian Shaw is also the real Vader.

3 actors, one character. co-equal co-eternal for all time each individually is Vader himself, not just "one of the Vaders" but one does not truly know Vader unless one knows all 3

In nomine patri et fili et spiritus sancti

Join the Discussion
comments powered by Disqus