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Is It Possible to Comprehend the Trinity?
Christians are monotheistic-we believe in one God. But we are also Trinitarian-we believe in a God who is revealed in three Persons. Each Person of the Godhead is fully Divine, yet distinct from one another.
The word “Trinity” does not appear in the Bible per se, but the concept of a Triune God has always been a key mark of historic, orthodox Christianity. As a matter of fact, the doctrine of the Trinity is one tenet that often separates aberrant teaching from the sound and established position of the Church down through the ages. When any member of the Godhead is made out to be less than fully God, a charge of heresy is substantiated.
But how is one to understand the doctrine of the Trinity? Can the Trinity be explained? The answer is “not exactly-not fully.” A.W. Tozer wrote in his book The Knowledge of the Holy that “our sincerest effort to grasp the incomprehensible mystery of the Trinity must remain forever futile, and only by deepest reverence can it be saved from actual presumption.”
Nevertheless, it is possible to gain some insight into this mystery. The diagram above, for instance, is helpful in demonstrating the Biblical position on the inter-relationship between the members of the Godhead. And there are five illustrations that I have come by over the years that have aided me in my own effort to grasp, at least in measure, that which the Scripture clearly affirms. As is true with any analogy, however, flaws and limitations remain. What follows is, at best, an attempt to translate the language of the infinite into the idiom of the finite.
In Genesis 1:26 God says, “Let Us make man in Our image…” But who are the ‘Us’ and the ‘Our’ if they’re not references to the three members of the Trinity? Certainly not the angels or the cherubim. Throughout Scripture the Father, the Son (Jesus), and the Holy Spirit are all repeatedly recognized as being fully God. The testimony is unequivocal. There certainly remains the mystery of that which man can never wholly know about God, but without disengaging the mind, and with what Tozer calls “reverent reason”, it becomes incumbent on us at this point to bow low before the totality of the truth of God’s revelation regarding Himself as the great Three-in-One.