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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 areequal 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

  • http://gplus.to/jeremyrasnic Jeremy Rasnic

    It’s ironic how we notice things due to timing that we would normally just glance over if we are familiar with them (Like your post on Google Plus that I clicked on to read this). I was just having a cordial conversation with a Muslim that involved this very same issue in a Google Plus conversation. He wanted to divorce the concept of the Trinity from the nature of God and substitute mathematics in its place. In other words, not understanding the framework of the doctrine, he sought to replace it with what he did understand: mathematics.

    For me, it has a been a good learning conversation as I am not as familiar with Islamic teaching as I am with my own faith or some others such as Mormonism. It is always beneficial to hear from one who believes it what one believes.

    If you are interested, here is the link to the conversation: https://plus.google.com/u/0/113295341642895753019/posts/XFeyg4okWQL

  • Helena

    Thank You! As we trust in an airplane that we don’t fully understand (and which can let us down)to carry us to our intended destination so we may fully trust in God whom we will never comprehend with our small human minds to carry us through to our eternal destination! What comfort we have who believe in Him that all three persons of the Godhead are working toward that end. Praise be His name now and forever more!