My pastor is currently preaching through John’s Gospel, which deals often with the doctrine of the Trinity. This doctrine is supernatural, mysterious, and difficult to comprehend. It is difficult because there is nothing in all the natural, created world that perfectly illustrates or explains the Triune nature of God. All our analogies, similes, metaphors, and illustrations fail because God is distinct, unique, and altogether holy.
Since the subject is so difficult, I thought it would be helpful to give you a handful of simple, easy-to-grasp tools to help you understand the doctrine of the Trinity a bit better.
My Pastor’s Preaching
I listen to a LOT of preaching. I’ve heard thousands of sermons. I earned a doctorate in expository preaching from a great seminary. And I believe without hesitation that my pastor, Jake Grogan, is one of the greatest preachers in America today. Recently, Pastor Jake has briefly taught on the Trinity in several recent sermons, as the text of John’s Gospel led him there. But a few months ago, he took an entire sermon to shepherd our church into a deeper understanding of this crucial aspect of theology. Give it a thorough listen!
The Athanasian Creed
Athanasius was a 4th century bishop in Alexandria. The church was struggling with understanding the nature of God and the divinity of Christ. God used Athanasius to write and publish one of the clearest and most concise distillations of the doctrine of the Trinity in all of church history, and we are richly blessed to have this summary in our possession.
*DISCLAIMER* the word ‘catholic’ is used to describe the universal church (all those who believe in, love, and follow Jesus Christ). It does not refer to the Roman Catholic Church, which was not in existence when this creed was written.
A Funny YouTube Video
This video is meant to be funny and instructive. The clearly fictional premise of this video is two Irish Lutherans, named Donall and Conall, interviewing Saint Patrick on popular illustrations used to describe the Trinity. The purpose is not to disrespect Saint Patrick, but to show that all of our earthly attempts at illustrating the Trinity fall flat and lead to some sort of historic heresy.
One Great Book
If you want to dive deep into the doctrine of God (and we all should!), there are seveal great books that will serve you well. Good systematic theology books will deal with this subject. There are also several amazing works from Church Fathers that are helpful, but difficult to read. But my favorite book on the doctrine of God is understandable, transformative, and devotional. Check it out below.
An Online Diagnostic
Here’s a 33-question quiz, created by Tim Challies and Rebecca Stark, that tests your understanding of the Trinity. My favorite thing about the quiz (and it’s not an easy one!) is that after each answer, Challies provides a brief explanation. I would recommend setting aside a few minutes to take this quiz and to read the explanations, especially on the questions you miss!
The importance of the doctrine of the Trinity cannot be overstated. We desperately need to know God, to think rightly about God, and to worship Him as the Triune Godhead. We are fortunate to live at a time of human history where we have so much good information available and on hand. Take advantage of some of these resources and you will be richly rewarded.