Explaining the Trinity of “Divine Identity”

Explaining the Trinity of “Divine Identity” November 5, 2014

What kind of analogy can we give to explain the Trinity?

In previous posts, we considered how ancient Jews talked about the one true God (i.e. monotheism). Richard Bauckham uses the phrase “divine identity” to describe this perspective. Follow-up posts highlighted the significance of this view for the sake of our ministry.Luca_Rossetti_Trinità_Chiesa_San_Gaudenzio_Ivrea

I’ll be the first to say that all analogies that attempt to explain the Trinity have limitations. That includes the ideas I’ll suggest below. Nevertheless, we have to try. Naturally, we should want to help people understand the Trinity.

If you have not read prior posts, I’ll remind you of three criteria that constitute the “divine identity” (i.e. that which Jews regarded as the one true God’s “deity”).

a. God is the Creator of the world

b. The Creator is the covenant God of Israel. In history, He has revealed himself to and through them.

c. The one true God is the king over all nations

The above 3-fold standard is a “functional” view of deity (rather than ontological or about what kind of “substance” is deity).

Three Analogies

Here are a few suggestions. I’d love to hear what you think.

1. The Bible

The Bible is one book with many smaller books/letters. In order to considered the “Bible,” a book must satisfy at least these three criteria.

 . . . inspired by God

. . . written by people

. . . without error in all it affirms

Notice that both the Bible (as a whole) and the individual books could satisfy these three criteria.

2. The Earth

The earth is a planet consisting of many specific and distinct places.

. . . orbits our sun

. . . has one moon

. . . supports human life

Both the planet (on the whole) and countless distinct locations in the world can satisfy these criteria.

3. An iPhone

How do we identify an iPhone from other smart phones? It will

. . . be designed by Apple

. . . make phone calls and send texts

. . . surfs the internet and plays music

Again, these criteria speak to those features that make the iPhone distinct from other types of technology.

This post is a brainstorm of sorts. If the Jews saw God in terms of “divine identity” and we are called to help people know the one true God, then we should consider how best to explain the Trinity.

What do you think? Do you have suggestions of your own?


Photo Credit: Creation Commons 2.0/wikipedia

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