Other ideas on the Trinity, and the problem with certain traditional metaphors
All human and wordly metaphors for the Trinity have problems because the Trinity ultimately describes something that is other-worldly, meaning, it has no example, it is unique. And ultimately, we are trying to describe a mystery, an insight.
"The Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit" are not names for different "parts" of God, but one name for God who has been revealed to us and acts towards us in these three ways.
"3 in 1" is not a math or science statement, it's a statement of profound mystery.
- The "Apple" metaphor found in some published curriculum and that many of us learned as children has problems. Father, Son, and Spirit are not three different parts (skin, seed, apple flesh) that make up a whole apple. It's a bad metaphor because Jesus is "fully" God, not a "part" of God that isn't complete without the others. Jesus is of the "same substance" of God -- a doctrine known as homoousios (of one substance) and enshrined in the Nicean Creed with phrase, "being of one substance with the Father."
- For the same reason, the "ol egg metaphor" for the Trinity ALSO has problems. An egg has a shell, white and yolk. Same sort of example as the apple. The shell protects the egg; the yolk is where the nutrients are. The Spirit is not a "distinct part" of God, the Spirit is fully God, just as Jesus is fully God. Yet they are "3 different persons" --
- The old "TRINITY = water, water vapor, water ice" metaphor is a much better metaphor for children, however it too has some problems if it is explained incorrectly.
- Water can take different forms - ice, liquid, and steam. Different forms, but still water, however, an ice cube is not water vapor, and liquid water is not ice. They are made of the same substance but are not the same thing.
Father and Son Relational Understanding
- Children are confused by the relationship phrase "Father and Son" -- which in human terms describes two different people. But when we say Jesus is the "Son" of God it can be said that we are describing Jesus' PURPOSE --- which is to show us how to be sons and daughters of God. Jesus MODELS for us how to relate to God the Father (from a description by Neil MacQueen).