I’m currently at one of Sweden’s biggest Christian conferences called Torp where I am co-responsible for evangelism. We’re teaching biblical principles on how to share the faith in the afternoons, and in the evenings we do outreach in the local town of Örebro with the Pancake Church. It’s tiring but awesome!
The other day a group of Muslims came to us and started to ask us questions like how do we know that the miracle claims of the Gospels are true, and how does one know which religion is true. And of course, one of them raised an issue that Muslims are often concerned with: how can you believe that God is three?
The answer I gave him made him say “Now I understand! Now I understand!” Which is great since a common response to Christians explaining the Trinity rather is “Now I’m just more confused”. But he isn’t the first one to appreciate the analogy I often use to portrait how God can be three in one: the human trinity.
Paul writes in 1 Thess 5:23 that consist of spirit, soul and body. All three share the human nature and they are interdependent and interconnected, but still distinct. Our spirit connects us with God and the supernatural realm, our soul controls our mind, thoughts and will, whereas our body locates us in nature and channels our senses.
This is analogous to the divine Trinity. The Father is like God’s soul, immaterial and intelligent. Jesus is like God’s body, incarnated and physical. And the Holy Spirit is obviously God’s Spirit. This doesn’t mean that there are three gods, just as the human trinity doesn’t mean that I am three humans.
Some theologians might object that the analogy isn’t perfect, since the human soul, body and spirit aren’t three persons. God is three persons sharing one divine nature, whereas a human being is one person with one human nature (and Jesus is one person with two natures). However, the purpose if the analogy is, as with most analogies, not to be a perfect copy if what is being described, but to be a parable that can help us understand. In my experience, the analogy of the human trinity is very effective when explaining the divine Trinity, and thus I highly recommend using it.
I am not trying to be mean but everything you have touched upon is pretty basic Southern Baptist theories nothing spiritual or theologically profound!
If the analogy is already commonplace within certain Christian groups that’s great! I don’t know Southern Baptists very well. Furthermore, my point is not that I or someone else has made a profound theological discovery, I just share what works for me in evangelism and apologetics.
I really appreciate your passion for outreach and evangelism. However, I don’t think that the analogy can be taken further than that we know examples of threeness and oneness combined. As you note, there is a big difference: Man’s body or man’s soul do not possess the fulness of human essence. But in Christ the fulness of the Godhead dwells. (To put it another way: God is not made up of parts, but we humans are.)
I don’t think there is anything we can say that makes people *understand* the Trinity in a logical way. They can be helped to understand what the Bible says and does not say about God being one God and three persons, and what that means. But if they understand that, they will also see that they cannot make sense of it logically.
One way to talk to Muslims about the issue is to talk about the Word of God. At least Sunni Muslims believe that the Word of God (to them the Quran) is eternal. God is eternally speaking. But still, they would not say that there are two that are eternal. So there is a similarity here that they may understand.
Thanks for sharing! I used an analogy to answer the same question from my friend from Uzbekistan. A person can be a daughter, sister, and wife, and still be one person. Often, I feel the Bible speaks about the role and relationship of G-d to mankind, but three relationships differ from three gods.
God is not a Trinity. Man is not a trinity. From Taylor’s book:
According to the Word of God, God formed Man’s body from the dust of the ground, breathed God’s breath of life (spirit) into Man’s body, and Man came alive, became a living soul; that is, Body + Spirit = Soul. Genesis 2:7 shows that The Trinity is a false doctrine. The Trinity, or any trinity, has 3 equal parts. This equation accurately reflects Genesis 2:7, and it demonstrates that body, spirit, and soul are not 3 equal parts. This equation says that body and spirit are two parts each by itself, but the soul is not a part by itself, for the soul is dependent on the other two parts, body + spirit. Can a body exist by itself? Yes. Can a spirit exist by itself? Yes. Can a soul exist by itself? No. A soul needs both body and spirit in order to come into existence, as this verse explicitly says.
Copyright © 2016-2017 Arthur Rain Taylor. All Rights Reserved.
Body, Spirit, Soul – An Exposition of Genesis 2:7
20-pages essay, $2.99 at iTunes, Barnes & Noble, etc.
The father, son and holy spirit are in fact equal, so your comment is patently false.