What Is God “Like”? Searching for A Trinitarian Analogy
by J Warner Wallace
Ever try to explain the triune nature of God to your kids? It’s tough, right? Every analogy fails to capture the true essence of the Trinity and ends up describing some form of heresy! The unique, divine and mysterious nature of the Trinity makes it nearly impossible for mere humans to completely comprehend it, let alone explain it; we find ourselves searching for analogies and metaphors to clarify the mystery of something that is necessarily mysterious. When our kids may ask, “What is God like?” it’s tempting to use similar language in our response. We might, therefore, find ourselves saying:
“God is Like” Water
Water can exist in the form of ice, steam or liquid, yet remain H20 all the while.
“God is Like” an Egg
An egg consists of three distinct elements, the shell, the white and the yolk.
“God is Like” a Man
A man can have three identities (i.e. he can be a husband, father and uncle) yet still only be one man.
Even though we quickly recognize that statements such as these fail to capture the fullness of the Trinity (and slip quickly into some form of heresy like Modalism, or Sabellianism, most specifically), we still find ourselves pushing forward in our effort to explain the concept, especially when our kids are young and ask, “What is God like?” Maybe part of the problem occurs when we embrace this childlike language in our response. Can we really say that God is “like” this or “like” that? Is our language part of the problem?
I was a designer for many years before I became a detective, and my experience as a “creator” taught me something important. All of my “creations” reflected my nature in one way or another. People who knew me could look at my art and say, “That looks like something Jim created.” Some limited aspect of my nature was consistently reflected in my creations. If this is also the case for God, there might be some evidence “reflected” in his creation that points to his nature as well…
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