God: Three in One - Another Article for my Local Paper

[This is the full text of an article that I recently wrote for our local paper.]

We will look at the Apostle's Creed in more detail this week in our series on the Heidelberg Catechism. From a close look at the outline of the creed, we can see the doctrine of the Trinity clearly displayed.

Question and answer 24 read, “How are these articles divided? Into three parts: God the Father and our creation; God the Son and our deliverance; and God the Holy Spirit and our sanctification.”

The catechism introduces us to the three Persons of the Trinity and their role in our salvation when we have true faith. Almighty God, the Father of all Christians, creates us and sends the Son and the Spirit. God the Son, Jesus Christ, delivers us from our sin and misery by His life and death. In addition, God the Spirit, the Holy Spirit, empowers us for the Christian life and makes us holy.

Question and answer 25 clearly state the nature of the Trinity, “Since there is only one divine being (Deut. 6:4; 1 Cor. 8:4, 6), why do you speak of three: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit? Because that is how God has revealed himself in his Word: (Matt. 3:16-17; 28:18-19; Luke 4:18 (Isa. 61:1); John 14:26; 15:26; 2 Cor. 13:14; Gal. 4:6; Tit. 3:5-6) these three distinct persons are one, true, eternal God.”

In the words of another famous catechism, “God is a spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable, in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness and truth.” Does that sound like anyone you have ever met? There is only one Being like this, and it is awesome to think about Him.

Why should we expect Him to be just like us, having one person in one being? Should we not expect Him to be so much more? God is, as C. S. Lewis put it, “beyond personality.”

There is nothing like God, and there are no good examples that help explain this doctrine. As I know from trying to explain the Trinity to my eight-year-old daughter, it is very hard to describe. That is why the catechism carefully states the doctrine and does not try to explain it.

God is one in Being or Essence, but three in Person. His being is what He is. His person is who He is. He is not one in being and three in being; that explanation would be nonsense. It would be like saying it is raining outside and not raining outside at the same time. He is not one in person and three in person; that would be nonsense too.

God is one in one way and three in another, one in being and three in person. It is like saying it is raining outside in one place and not raining outside in another place across town. That description is not nonsense. It seems strange, but it can be true.

It is fitting that we begin our journey through the Apostle’s Creed with this doctrine because it humbles us and makes us see the limits of our own thinking. Next week, we will begin to explore what the doctrine of God the Father means to us.


Anonymous said...

J. K. Jones,

I tried reaching you through e-mail, but I'm unsure if you've received it. I thought I would try here, even though this is a public forum. Feel free to delete this after you've read it.

I want to sincerely apologize for my behavior toward you. I was completely out of line in how I treated you, and I consider it sinful. I asked the Lord's forgiveness, and now I ask yours. I've been under a lot of pressure from certain on-line Calvinists -- Calvinists who insist I'm not saved merely because I'm an Arminian. That is very difficult to take; and I admit that the anger I sensed of those experiences was taken out on you (and a few other Calvinist brothers and sisters).

I also deleted you as a friend on facebook over my sinful attitude. Should you care to add me again, I would gratefully accept. If you would rather not, then I completely understand.

Also, I am inviting you to interact with me on my site, should you care to. Don't feel obligated to do so, but if you want to, I promise that my tone and answers will seek to reflect Christ and not my sinful, arrogant, presumptuous attitude. (I changed the URL of my site, just so you're aware: http://www.williamwbirch.com/.)

I don't want there to be any bitter animosity between us. I am the cause of it, and I am genuinely sorry.

May the Lord bless you and your family,

In Him,

William Birch

J. K. Jones said...

William Burch,

Your apology is accepted. Please forget about it, because I will.

I will send you a friend request on Facebook again, and I will respond to your e-mail note as soon as possible.

It may be a little while. I have some challenges at my place of employement that are proving to be time consuming.



Anonymous said...

Thank you so much, brother, thank you.

God bless.

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