How Do You Explain the Trinity?

You have probably heard some illustrations that are supposed to help explain the Trinity. One of the most common examples is the egg. Everyone knows an egg has three elements: the yoke, the white, and the shell. Each element is distinct from the other, yet they all combine to make up an egg. Just like the Trinity, right? Well…not really.

Yes, all three elements of the egg make up the egg, but each element by itself isn’t an egg. You can’t isolate the shell and say, “This is an egg.” The next time you have guests for breakfast, try scrambling up a couple of eggshells for them. We guarantee they will think you’re one egg short of a full omelet.

The shell is part of the egg, but separated from the other two parts, it isn’t truly an egg. By comparison, if you isolate Jesus or the Holy Spirit or God the Father and say of each one, “This is God,” you would still be right. They are all God, but they are not each other. Jesus is equal to God, but He isn’t God the Father. The Holy Spirit is equal to Jesus, but the Holy Spirit isn’t Jesus.

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Can You Really Know God?

Is it possible to know God? Most people believe it is possible to know about God the way you know about any person, place, or thing. All it takes is a little research, such as reading a book about whatever it is you want to know about. So in the case of God, you could read the Bible. Or in the case of Allah, you could read the Qur’an. But what if you want to actually know God in the way you would know a spouse or a close friend?

Muslims take offense at the notion that a person can know God. To the Islamic mind, a human ability to know God would make God dependent on his creation. For this reason, Allah doesn’t reveal himself; he reveals his mashi’at (desires and wishes), but not himself. Since Muslims believe that people cannot know Allah, they don’t try.

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Thinking Well About Hell

If I'm honest, I just don't know what it means to think well about hell. I've spent a great bulk of my life thinking about the doctrine of God, salvation, and figures like Jonathan Edwards, but I really don't spend an aweful lot of time meditating upon hell. To get some conversation going, let me try to draw out some thoughts about what it might mean to think well about hell.

1. Questioning hell because of God's love is absurd. 

Let me explain my brash statement. It is not surprising to find atheists taking a similiar line of logic to deny the existence of God - a loving God can't exist with the reality of this kind of world - or so the argument goes. But for Christians, we have no room to make these arguments. What we must never do is to start with a general idea - love - and then apply it to God. Rather, since God is love, we must see what God is like to know how to define love. If our God send people to hell, that has to somehow inform what a loving God is (even if we don't directly tie it to his love per se). In the same way, we must not talk about a loving God outside of talking about the cross. 

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What Is Prayer? (3) Why Bother?

Christians pray. But why? What’s the point? What do you say to the One who knows you better than you know yourself?

After a lot of discussion with my Christian friends and mentors about their prayer lives, I finally understood that prayer can’t be seen in isolation as an action that we do in order to get something. Rather, prayer is about relationship with God. As we pray, we are drawn up into the deepest relationship there is: the most holy Trinity, the eternal loving communion of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

In prayer, we don’t tell anything to God that He doesn’t already know. But that’s also how it is when we speak with our friends and family – when our relationships are at their best.

If I send a card to a friend saying “Happy birthday,” what purpose did that serve? She already knew it was her birthday! The message is that I care about her – but wait, she already knew that, too; we’ve been friends for years.

Haitians Cry Out To Jesus. How Will He Answer Them?

It’s breaking news everywhere. Haiti, the poorest country in the western hemisphere, shook yesterday as a 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck the tiny island country. An earthquake of this size is devastating regardless of where it strikes. In poverty stricken Haiti, it is of the highest level of trauma. Haiti, comparative in size to the state of Maryland, lacks infrastructure and the means to enable recovery from such a force as this quake. Haiti needed help before the quake and Haiti needs help now.

In 2007, Haiti ranked 43rd in the world for highest number of people living with HIV/AIDS. The risk of contracting a major infectious disease is high for Haitians due to unclean water. While 80% of Haitians identify themselves as Catholic and 16% as Protestant, nearly half of the 9 million island inhabitants practice voodoo.*

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Transforming Little Heretics

“God is like a three-headed dragon,” offered one high school student.  “I think God is like a Transformer,” blurted out a junior higher in the front row.  I had just asked students at this summer camp to give a brief definition of the Trinity.  They reached for all sorts of analogies to explain God’s nature.  Heresy soon followed (Disclaimer:  no heretical students were burned at the stake). 

Next, I asked for biblical justification.  “What Scripture tells us that God is a trinity?  Where in the Bible do we find the word?”  Students began thumbing through their Bibles, searching for the elusive verses.  A few went straight to their concordances.  Several minutes passed.  No verses were offered.  Finally, a female underclassman ventured a guess.  “There is no Bible verse that uses the word Trinity, right?” 

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