Scholars declare the trinity is a mystery that is beyond understanding and we agree! Divine mysteries are spiritual truths that were formerly hidden but are now meant to be understood. Man made mysteries are something else altogether and can be impossible to understand. Since the trinity is so incomprehensible we ask ourselves, who owns the trinity? Is the Trinity God’s mystery… or is it ours?
The Greatest Divine Mystery of All
There’s no doubt that the greatest divine mystery of all is the revelation of God Himself and His plan for the ages in His Son Jesus Christ. This is something we can definitely understand and that God wants us to understand! Our inheritance includes “the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God and of the Father and of Christ.” (Colossians 2:2) God did not leave us in the dark about Himself. When Christians though are pressed to explain the trinity they usually say, “It’s a great mystery that no one can understand.” A highly educated orthodox bishop once told me the trinity is “a vague nebulousness” but he believed it anyway. We can’t help but wonder… who owns the trinity? Is the trinity a divine mystery or is it ours?
Does Anyone Understand the Trinity?
One of the most peculiar things about the trinity is that even people who claim to believe it wholeheartedly confess they have no idea at all of what it really means. In an effort to explain how God can be one “substance” in three co-equal and co-eternal “persons” some have proclaimed that God is “One What and Three Who’s”. We say “who could fail to love a God like that?” To this day no one can explain precisely what a divine “person” is and how such a “person” differs from God’s “substance”. Where did men ever get the idea that God is some type of substance anyway? The answer is pretty clear, they got it from Greek philosophy because the Bible never says things like that about God!
How to Explain the Trinity
Common trinitarian illustrations include “God is like an apple with skin, seeds and flesh but it is just one apple.” And let’s not forget other even more well-known explanations of the trinity such as God is like an egg with shell, egg-white and yoke but it’s just one egg! Or God is like water, steam and ice! Do any of these things reveal God to us? Even more impressive than these examples is that most Christians subscribe to the notion that God is like a triangle! One modern theologian has stated that “The Trinity reveals God more as a verb than a noun.” Did you notice that none of these illustrations have anything at all to do with scripture? Maybe that’s because the trinity has nothing at all to do with the Biblical mystery of God.
The Trinity is Officially a Mystery
Isaac Newton found the trinity to be “unintelligible, it was not understood at the Council of Nicea… nor ever since”. Newton also wrote that “the debates at Nicea had more to do with Plato and Aristotle than with Jesus.” Thomas Jefferson wrote “The Athanasian paradox that one is three, and three but one is so incomprehensible to the human mind that no candid man can say he has any idea of it.” We affirm that the trinity is a man-made bafflement and a nonsensical philosophical abstraction. Perhaps the trinity is officially a mystery because it is man-made and doesn’t have much to do with God at all.
The Biblical Mystery of God and Christ
The divine revelation and Biblical mystery and of God and Christ is both clear and understandable. The One true God known as the Father miraculously brought about the birth of His only Son Jesus, who is God’s Christ and our Savior and Messiah. This Jesus was crucified for our sake, rose from the dead and now sits at the right hand of God! He has promised to return to earth someday and set up a kingdom that will never end. Believers in every age have looked forward to this blessed hope. Compared to the philosophical abstractions of men, the Biblical mystery of God and Christ reveals divine truths in ways even children can understand… and we like God’s approach a lot better.
Copyright 2022 by Bob Shutes