Three in One

The below item is part of my "Conversations" series.

A Christian and a Jew on a bench in the park

Valerie: So, did you read that thing I gave you?

Tanner: I read it. I still don’t understand why you feel like you have to try so hard to convert me.

Valerie: I only want to make sure you know the whole truth because I’m concerned about you.

Tanner: That’s nice of you, but reading all that made me feel even more strongly that I could never be a Christian. I don’t even understand how you can call Christianity monotheistic when you basically have three gods.

Valerie: We’ve only got one god. God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are one god.

Tanner: How does that work? It sounds like three gods to me.

Valerie: It’s God who creates, Jesus who is begotten, and the Holy Spirit who proceeds.

Tanner: I don’t have any idea what that means. It sounds like a logic puzzle.

Valerie: It’s not hard. God is like water. You can use liquid water to drink, steam to warm things, or ice to cool things, but they are all still water.

Tanner: Then God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are just different names that you use to refer to God depending on what he’s doing? Wouldn’t that be like saying that Bob, Mr. Jones, the dentist, and my dad are four different people in one body?

Valerie: It’s not the same because the trinity is three distinct personalities even though they are one essence. Your dad and the dentist can’t operate independently because they are the same person.

Tanner: But it’s not like God can only do one thing at a time. He can do billions of things simultaneously. Water changes from one thing to another, but you’re saying that the three persons of the trinity exist at the same time.

Valerie: Then think of it like an egg. An egg has a shell, a white, and a yolk, but we still think of it as one thing.

Tanner: But if I showed you an egg yolk and said it was the same as an egg, you’d say I was wrong.

Valerie: You’re taking this too literally. God is one essence with three persons.

Tanner: Wait — I thought you said that Jesus was begotten?

Valerie: Right.

Tanner: Well, if God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are the same then they all have the same properties, so how could God have begotten Jesus if he didn’t create himself?

Valerie: God didn’t create Jesus; Jesus has been here since the beginning of time. It’s in the book of John.*

Tanner: Then how could Jesus be begotten of God?

Valerie: Saying that Jesus is begotten of God means that Jesus has the same nature as God, in the same way that any son has the same nature as his father. Although all of us are begotten of God, Jesus is the only begotten son because he is the only one that shares God’s nature. “Begotten” is being used to confirm that Jesus and God are one, not to imply that Jesus was created.

Tanner: How can Jesus be the only begotten son if the Holy Spirit also has God’s nature? Wouldn’t the Spirit also be begotten of God?

Valerie: The Holy Spirit isn’t God’s son.

Tanner: In a literal sense, Jesus isn’t God’s son, either. Not if they both have always existed.

Valerie: Jesus is God’s son because he was born of Mary.

Tanner: If Jesus is God’s son because he was born of Mary but he always existed, then did he only become the son of God after he was born on Earth?

Valerie: No; Jesus has a father-son relationship with God and has since the beginning of time.

Tanner: Then he isn’t God’s son because of Mary.

Valerie: Not only because of that.

Tanner: I’m just not seeing how it makes sense that God is three people but only counts as one God. I heard someone say that Christians pray to Jesus to have the Holy Spirit bring a message to God.

Valerie: I’m not sure if that’s true, but I’ve heard it.

Tanner: Well what sense does it make for Jesus or the Holy Spirit to bring a message to God if they’re all the same person? “Bringing a message” implies time passing, but as soon as one part of God knew the message, wouldn’t all the parts know it?

Valerie: Yes, but through the Holy Spirit.

Tanner: Let me try another way. God caused Mary to be pregnant, right?

Valerie: Through the Holy Spirit.

Tanner: There it is again! If God and the Holy Spirit are the same being, why even bother correcting me? Wouldn’t I be just as correct to say that Jesus got his mother pregnant?

Valerie: No. Jesus, God, and the Holy Spirit are three separate individuals. They take separate actions and have separate identities and functions. They are one because they share the same essence, not because they are not individuals.

Tanner: If they’re individuals, then why isn’t Christianity a pagan religion?

Valerie: Because there’s only one God.

Tanner: I’m sorry, but you’re not making this any clearer to me than that tract you gave me did. The trinity thing seems like a massive problem with Christianity.

Valerie: It’s not a problem; it’s a solution.

Tanner: To what?

Valerie: To the Bible. When you read the Bible, it make sense only if you understand the nature of the trinity.

Tanner: Are you talking about the Jewish Bible or the New Testament?

Valerie: It’s in the Old Testament, too — they knew about the trinity but it’s hard to see because ancient Hebrew only had one word for God. Mostly, though, I’m talking about the New Testament, but the New Testament shines a light on the Old Testament.

Tanner: Then I think I’m going to have to stay Jewish. I can understand our text just fine without a light I can’t even understand.

*John 1:1–2, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God.”


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Posted on March 19, 2014 at 7:13 pm by ideclare · Permalink
In: Conversations

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