Higher Math

four leaf clover

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. (2 Corinthians 13:14)

Explaining God has always been a problem. First, there’s his rather eccentric behavior. If he’s not flinging locusts or striking down entire armies, he’s cursing innocent fig trees or spitting in blind people’s eyes. I’m telling you, it’s hard to be an orthodox believer when your deity of choice is so doggone unorthodox. Most of the time you just shrug your shoulders and mumble the creeds with extra gusto.

The hardest thing of all to explain is the whole Trinity concept. I don’t know how many times somebody’s asked me to explain it. The conversation usually goes something like this:

THEM: So what’s with this Trinity thing?

ME: Well, there’s the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit—and they’re each God.

THEM: So there are three Gods?

ME: No. Only one.

THEM: So which one of those three is the real God then?

ME: All of them.

THEM: All of them are God?

ME: Yes.

THEM: So God has three parts?

ME: No. God is one.  You can’t divide God.

THEM: So one plus one plus one equals one?

ME: No. That’s not even logical. More like one times one times one equals one. The ones don’t add up— they times themselves. It’s like the same one being itself three times.

THEM: So the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit are the same then.

ME: No. They’re different from each other.

THEM: They’re all the same exact God but they’re not the same?

ME: That’s right.

THEM: How can they be the same but different?

ME: It’s like water which can exist in three forms: solid, liquid, and gas.

THEM: All at the same time?

ME: Well, water can’t, but God can.

THEM: So the Father is a solid, the Son is a liquid, and the Spirit is a gas?

ME: I wouldn’t exactly put it that way.

THEM: You just did.

ME: It was only an analogy. God isn’t really like that.

THEM: So God is like water except not at all?

ME: Exactly. God isn’t really like anything.

THEM: Weird. Does anybody get this?

ME: Nope. It’s what you call a divine mystery. You just have to believe it.

THEM: You have to believe it because you don’t understand it?

ME: Yes. That’s what faith is.

THEM: The Jews and Muslims don’t have this problem.

ME: But they’re screwed up.


The Bible doesn’t help much on this issue, which suggests that God doesn’t fully understand the Trinity thing either. He probably takes it one day at a time like the rest of us. So I’m not going to worry about it. If God wants to be three or one is his business. All I hope is that they each have the same phone number.


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