Making sense of the triune God

There’s a lovely, yet complex, simplicity to the Christian doctrine of God as trinity; There is one divine nature (being), and there are three divine persons; the Father, the Son and the Spirit. One being (not three beings). Three persons (not one person). While every illustration is flawed, here’s a small one…

Consider a single 50c coin. Hold one in your hand. One thing, and yet it’s also three things.

  • Its an alloy; a metal compound of tin and copper, etc.
  • It’s an image; an imprint having been stamped at the mint.
  • It’s currency; it’s worth something in Australian dollars, it’s legal tender.

But there are not three things in your hand, are there? There’s just one thing. One item. That’s similar to God’s being. God is only one being. One thing. If we ask “What is God?” the answer must be “One being”, or “One essence”, “One nature”.

But that one thing in your hand is also three things; metal, imprint and currency. And all of that thing is metal. All of that thing is an imprint, and all of it is legal tender. You can’t separate the legal currency from the metal, nor the imprinted-ness from the legal tender-ness.

This is analogous to the persons of God; The Father, Son and the Spirit. These three are all God. If we ask “Who is God?” The answer must be “The Father” and “The Son” and “The Spirit”.

One being. Three persons.

As above, there’s some serious issues with this illustration, but it’s just a little attempt to convey one idea about our God – not everything.