Thoughts on the Trinity


“To those who say that the Trinity is irrational, for it asks us to believe that 1 + 1 + 1 = 1, we respond with two counters. Rather, we are saying that x + y + z = a, or better still, 1 x 1 x 1 = 1. In the case of deity, perhaps the relationship is multiplicative, not additive. At any rate, we must be prepared to show that it is not inherently irrational or incapable of a sophisticated, coherent formulation. Beyond that, we may allow that perhaps a full comprehension of the triune nature of an infinite God is beyond us. He is unique.”


Erickson states: “The Trinity is a communion of three persons, three centers of consciousness, who exist and always have existed in union with one another and in dependence on one another. . . . Each is essential to the life of each of the other, and to the life of the Trinity. They are bound to one another in love, agape love, which therefore unites them in the closest and most intimate of relationships. (331).”


The 1x1x1 analogy is aimed specifically at a claim that three in one is irrational. The image the analogy is to portray is that in this equation, three distinct ones are present (analogous to ‘persons’), yet they form one. Perhaps similiar to the hebrew term ‘ehad’. It does not simply mean a singular distinct isolated oneness (like I would say ‘there is one toy’). There is another term in hebrew for this numerical significance. Instead, the Shema uses ehad which carries the adjectival force of ‘oneness’. This is seen in the Mt 28:18-20 baptism formula, where we are to baptize in ONE NAME. We baptize in the ‘name’ (singular, not names) of the father and of the son and of the holy spirit. One name, yet three distinctions. Three persons. The same is seen in the equation 1 = 1x1x1 The multiplied components are distinct from one another. It is not simply 1=1 But it carried a rational idea of these three multiplied into eachother provide a wholeness. A oneness. Their very numeric nature, one, is reflected in each other. Liken to the trinity, where each person carried the same divinity and will. Their divinity and will make them one. It is their nature, as the nature of one is their numeric value. When you multiply this nature of numeric one with something with the same numerical nature (1), you achieve a numeric wholeness (=1). These three ones when multiplied do not lose their numeric distinctiveness, but because of their nature as the number one, we find three multiplied into each other formulate a wholeness yet oneness. 1 = 1x1x1 This is different from an additional equation, whereas the additive quality signifies three separate entities.


Think here of glasses of water… If I have three glasses of water, and I place them on a table, how much water do I have? Three glasses. They are beyond distinct, but are isolated. 1 (glass of water) + 1 (glass of water) +1 (glass of water) = 3 [glasses on a table] Now imagine I have one glass, and I pour three cups of water into it. I’ve moved from addition of separates to a multiplied case of addition. What happens? 1 (water) x 1 (water) x 1 (water) = 1 (whole glass of water). The nature of water leads to a wholeness. The multiplication provides the idea that they are likened. The property of water is similar to the property of divinity. The =1 here represents ‘one’ more in the sense of numerical ‘wholeness’. ‘Oneness’. We do not have a glass of water where we can point and say ‘here is the first water, and here the second, and here the third’. But rather, logically, it is whole and one, yet we know multiplied there were three distinct persons [waters]. Mind you, the trinity is overtly not constrained to analogies, and most failed, but this simply shows how it is logically possible for Three to be One.


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