Whereas an egg is made up of three separate parts (shell, white and yolk), each part is not an egg in its essence (in its whatness); rather, each is only part of the egg. Contrarily, the doctrine of the Trinity states that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are one in essence(they are one what) – they are equally and simultaneously God, not three separate parts which come together to form God. [See, Kenneth Samples, A World of Difference, pg. 134 (2007)]
Although there are distinctions between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, those distinctions do not relate to God’s essence (His whatness) and do not fragment or compartmentalize the very being of God. [See, R.C. Sproul, What Is the Trinity?, pg. 10 (2011)] Each member of the Trinity is distinct from the other two, yet, they remain united in their whatness. [See, Douglas Blount, The Apologetics Study Bible, “The Trinity: Is it Possible That God Be Both One and Three?”, pg. 1459 (2007)]. God is one in essence (God is one what or one in being) yet three in person (God is three whos – Father, Son and Holy Spirit). [See, R.C. Sproul, Renewing Your Mind, “Contradiction and Paradox”, NRB, 3/10/09]
All three persons of the Godhead work together in all that God does. God is one undivided being and the Godhead lives in undivided unity. Although the Godhead is indivisible, each act or work performed is attributed to one of the three persons who make up the Godhead:
While the Father sent the Son, who was conceived by the Spirit, it was only the Son who became incarnate, not the Father or the Spirit. Only the Son became man. Only the Son hung on the cross. The Holy Spirit, who proceeds from the Father and the Son, was sent by the Son, but it was only the Spirit who came at Pentecost, not the Father or the Son.
[See, Dr. Robert Letham, Tabletalk, “The God Centered Life, Sacraments”, April 2012, Vol. 36, No.4. Tabletalk is available at www.ligonier.org]
Granted, the triune nature of God is difficult, if not impossible, to comprehend by the human mind. Certainly, if the Bible described God as a being confined to the space-timedimensions of this universe, then the existence of such a triune being would be nonsensical. However, the Bible describes God as a being that transcends the space-timedimensions of this universe and, as such, it isn’t surprising that the Bible describes God as operating and existing in ways beyond our experience and comprehension. Although, attempts can be made to understand what God’s triune nature may be like by analogizing the Trinity to things confined to the space-time constraints of the universe (e.g., an egg), great care must be taken not to unwittingly misrepresent the true nature of the Trinity as it is revealed in the Bible — one what and three whos.
© 2012 by Andrina G. Hanson
Published: July 9, 2012 / Last Updated: October 2, 2013
QUICK LINKS TO SOURCES REFERENCED OR RELIED ON IN THIS ARTICLE
Douglas K. Blount, The Apologetics Study Bible: Understand Why You Believe“The Trinity: Is it Possible That God Be Both One and Three?” pg. 1459 (Holman Bible Publishers, 2007)
Kenneth Richard Samples, World of Difference, A: Putting Christian Truth-Claims to the Worldview Test (Reasons to Believe)(Baker Books, 2007)
R.C. Sproul, What is the Trinity? (Crucial Questions Series) (Crucial Questions (Reformation Trust))(Reformation Trust Publishing, 2011)
R.C. Sproul, Renewing Your Mind, “Contradiction and Paradox”, aired on NRB, 3/10/09, available at www.ligonier.org/learn/series/defending-your-faith/contradiction-and-paradox/