Question: Is The Trinity Like A Family?

Anonymous asked:

Is Jesus our brother or our father? Sorry if that’s a weird question.


You know what preacher joke I dislike the most?  When the preacher talks about Creation and says, “So the Father was just playing catch with His Son and the Spirit was like, ‘Hey let’s make something’ and Jesus was like ‘Yeah daddy I’m tired of playing catch for eternity –” and yeah.  It’s cute, but it’s also kind of dumb and I’m pretty sure it’s racist (I use the race card at will).

Seriously though: the idea of the Holy Trinity as Family is something I’ve been thinking about for a while — that’s what it’s like to hang out with me — and I’m no closer to it than discovering how to divide by zero. The only conclusion I can draw is that the Bible uses the analogy of family to illustrate what we can’t comprehend. At the same time, God made people into “families” because it also reflects His own nature. 


Let’s go through some theology here —

The story of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15 is the absolute best visual of the Trinity: you have the Father who wants what’s best for his kids and he has given his whole life for them.  The rebellious son and the religious son are you and me.  The Father’s heart of compassion is all Holy Spirit.  The slain fatted calf is the slain Lamb of God. Jesus is the True Elder Brother who brings us into the family of His Father, and we lost orphans are adopted into an eternal union with the best family of all time.

Later in Luke 20, Jesus seals the parable of the Prodigal Son by talking about a vineyard owner who rented out his farm to some wicked tenants.  They won’t pay out, so finally the vineyard owner sends his own son to collect — but the tenants kill the son.  This is what we have done.


While this can get a little sticky, Jesus is like our Older Brother who is bringing us back home to the Father.  He gives us access to the Father with his own life, and this is a plan that was set in motion before the beginning of time.  Jesus was not unwillingly crushed: he did it of his own accord, for he had the power to lay down his life and raise it up again.  But he did go through with the horror of the cross for us.

In some mysterious unexplainable way, the Trinity is like the perfect family that we’re all looking for.  When Christianity is recited as a “belief system” with these complex doctrines and systematic theology, we can easily lose the simple awe of a brother who fights for us and a Father who loves us.  Read the New Testament with that sort of lens — that Jesus is the brother who calls his disciples to a brand new family.  C.S. Lewis calls it an invitation to the Divine Dance.

People don’t want religion: they want a Father.  Especially a dad who actually wants to enjoy His kids, hang out with them, and have a blast.  That’s why it’s a joy to serve God: because we get to have God. 

In the end, real faith is about intimacy with the Father and a relationship with Jesus Christ.  That’s not new to you, but very few people actually pray as if they’re sitting in their daddy’s lap, cradled in the Father’s arms.  Not many of us pray acknowledging that Jesus intercedes for us on our behalf while the Holy Spirit gives us words we didn’t know to speak and shapes our hearts to be like Christ. 

Your new identity is a son and daughter of God because Jesus made it possible.  In the famous words of a certain Italian mobster, You’re family now.


Check out Mark Driscoll’s sermon on the Prodigal Son, where he discusses the Trinity Family dynamic.

— J.S.

12 thoughts on “Question: Is The Trinity Like A Family?

  1. What’s absolutely cool about this is that I’ve never, ever heard that story being equated to a Trinity discussion. Don’t particularly agree (rather, I think that’s a long way around) but it’s absolutely interesting food for thought!


    1. Totally cool to disagree! I realize we will always come up short when discussing the Trinity. I feel the most we have to work with is the “Father/Son” language which is apparent through the gospels, though certainly I could be wrong.


      1. Know what…let me rephrase that!! I don’t DISAGREE with you and I truly appreciate you even digging into it to see what you could find. Cause Abba is indeed my Daddy, my Pops, my Heavenly Father. But I think this application fragments the Trinity a bit, especially for our limited minds and fatherless culture. And I think that terminology is just a portion of what we have. Because the language of John states that they were all here together from the beginning. Personally I think it’s a little less complicated as well. You’re JS Park – Pastor, son, blogger. All of those things are part of an original plan for your life. But you’re still JS Park. Same with God. He’s still God; Jesus is He who was given to show us how to do this thing in the flesh and the Holy Spirit is He who was given to keep us on the track to walking this walk. God just keeps building on his original plan. And He’s still God.

        So this is just another short answer to a long story! Regardless of how we get to it, I’m just glad to be celebrating it this week!!! 🙂


  2. Somehow no metaphor of family helps me talk about God. Humans are brother and sister to each other, true. Jesus used the parent metaphor (including Abba, a familiar form of Ab “Father”) and I don’t know what to make of that. The prayer given to the disciples starts “Our Father…” and the “our” I get, but the “Father” I don’t. My experience pushes me toward the honourable coach or good camp counsellor metaphor who sacrifice much to help, but have no obligation to do so because of genetic attachment. That’s another ‘Hm…’ for me.
    That in no way means your answer is invalid or inadequate. I’m just thinking.


    1. Yes, “Abba,” or daddy, is a very radical word. No other religion claims it for God.
      I’ve only recently begun looking into the “family” metaphor for the Trinity. Some of the New Perspective on Paul (by N.T. Wright and C. Baxter Kruger) are very deep into Trinitarian themes of Father/Son, and though I’m highly critical when I read academia, some of it is making sense. Mostly because the natural reading of Scripture seems to suggest such heavy themes of intimacy. But again, I can only speculate: the Trinity is a mystery and I’m okay with that.


  3. Answer: God, our father, the universal conscience, the super set and permanent state of everything that perpetually is, as is (manifest, creation) and everything that is not (unmanifest, potential, unpredictable, quantum possibility), Who, nevertheless, contains each one of us, the Son, with our watchful consciousness in an accepting, open-heart loving relationship with everything that is (or might be). Man in a personal relation with everything, a relation so whole and so true that results in synchronicity, also known as miracle, this is the Holy Trinity: Man in a personal relationship with God under the Wholly principle of love (human), truth (objective reality) and harmony (relation, attitude).


  4. Jesus is the proven manifestation of human perfection, who, knowing all secrets of existence, submitted to the Holy plan of sacrifice so that we know about how to start living with the end in mind. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.


  5. No matter what you call Him; Father, Abba, Yahweh, Lord, one of many great truths I smile about is that God’s only begotten Son Jesus calls us His friends.
    (See John 15:14-15)
    Great post. Stoked we’ll understand this mystery when we get there.


  6. Reblogged this on Priscilla Writes and commented:
    “Very few people actually pray as if they’re sitting in their daddy’s lap, cradled in the Father’s arms. Not many of us pray acknowledging that Jesus intercedes for us on our behalf while the Holy Spirit gives us words we didn’t know to speak and shapes our hearts to be like Christ.”


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