1 +1 + 1 = 1?
Let’s just say that Math was not one of my strong points. However, even I know that this answer cannot be right. Can it?
Well, it cannot be mathematically right. But it is theologically right.
Math says, “No, no, no! 1 + 1 + 1 = 1 is wrong.”
But the Bible says, “Yes, yes, yes! 1 + 1 + 1 = 1 is right.”
I’m speaking of course of the Trinity, God in three persons.
STOP! Don’t click away yet. I know that word” “Trinity” sounds terribly complicated, and even boring, but with the help of the Shorter Catechism, I believe we can keep it simple and even interesting.
The secret is to accept we will never fully understand this, and be cool with that. We can get lots of enjoyment out of things we don’t fully understand. I don’t understand how a brown cow can eat green grass and produce white milk, but I can still enjoy a milkshake! I have no idea how a plane can fly, but I can still entrust myself to a metal cylinder and enjoy the awe of flying at 30,000 ft and 500mph. We don’t need to fully understand something to enjoy it, to be awed by it, or to benefit from it.
Same with the Trinity. I don’t need to fully understand it to trust God, to enjoy God, and to be awed by God.
So, with that, let’s note three facts about the Trinity.
1. Evident Threeness
Shorter Catechism 6 says: There are three persons in the Godhead: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost…
It’s very obvious from the Bible that there are three different persons all of whom are God.
It’s not 1⁄3 of a person + 1⁄3 of a person + 1⁄3 of a person = 1 God.
It’s 1 full person + 1 full person, plus 1 full person = 1 full God.
2. Essential Togetherness
…and these three are one God…the same in substance…
Although there are three persons, all of whom are God, we don’t have three Gods, but rather one.
It’s not 1 person + 1 person + 1 person = 3 Gods.
It’s 1 person + 1 person + 1 person = 1 God.
3. Equal Throne
The three persons are…equal in power and glory
We don’t have a small 1 + a medium 1 + a large 1 = 1 God.
No all the “1’s,” all the persons, are equal in power and glory. They all sit on the same throne at the same level and they are all to be equally worshipped.
Before I was converted, this idea of the Trinity was one of my biggest obstacles to believing the Gospel. I couldn’t figure it out at all and that put me off believing. When I was born-again, I started reading a book on the Trinity and it almost sent me back to unbelief again!
So I left it, trusted the Bible’s teaching (as simplified and summarized in the Shorter Catechism), and over time, through Christian experience, I have come to grasp the Trinity in a way that my mere intellect never could.
In my Christian experience, I have a relationship with three persons, each of whom is equally God, and all of whom are one God. I can’t explain it, and I’ve found no book that fully explains it. But it works!
Previous installments in the Shorter Catechism video series
Introduction: A Summary not a Substitute
Question 1: Why am I here?
Questions 2-3: What is Truth?
Questions 4-5: The Unanswerable Question