Question: How Does The Trinity Work?

February 19, 2012 — Leave a comment



Follow-up question to this one about the Holy Spirit.

mwali asked:
Hello! Not to make your head explode, but I have always been curious… how exactly can God be one God but three persons? We is mentioned at church and in the bible, of course, but it still feels like a blurry concept! I am looking forward to reading your thoughts on this! Have a lovely day, and God Bless! :)

Since I have a tiny little human brain compared to whales and Watson (that darn supercomputer), I doubt I’ll come close to helping. But here we go.

I don’t think I can tell you how the Trinity “works,” but I can tell you (in part) why it’s necessary.


A singular god who created us would have no real concept of love until he made us, which would worry me if his only concept of love began when he made us. That would mean there was a time when he wasn’t love, since love requires outpouring to another.

“So why couldn’t he have just loved himself?” But then he would have no need to make us, and if at that point he DID make us, I’m not sure a self-loving god is quite a real god at all, nor could that sort of god send his son to die on a dirty cross. Call that a Greek myth.

Say now you have a Dichotomy: two gods instead of one. Father and Son make a great team, but could only send the Son for a limited time in human years. Father and Spirit make a cool sitcom, but no Son to live among us. Son and Spirit are a good cop show, but there is no loving authority there to wield justice on our sins.

When you have all three, you get everything: an eternally loving Trinity-community that doesn’t need us but volitionally loves us, who understands sacrifice and commitment and authority, who defer to one another out of love, and who work within human history inside and outside of time. Take one away and you’re left with a limited pagan invention; take two away and you’re left with a Greek demigod. Try adding any and you get a polytheistic mess.

You could say, “Why doesn’t a single god fulfill all three roles?” Technically, a single God does fill all three roles, but He does it in three persons in a totally unified community. That’s where I get fuzzy on this too. And that’s where I trust God to be how He wants to be. He knows better, so three persons it is.

All three are God, none of them are each other, and we love and worship the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. We cannot place one over the other or weird theology ensues.

Try this on for size: When Jesus died on the cross, not only did the Father and the Spirit watch the Son’s agony, but they felt his agony and even saw through his eyes while he (and they) hung there. God can’t die but in some sense he died. I probably didn’t clear up your confusion. But again: we worship one God, the Trinity.


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