BY CARLEY ESCHLIMAN
How can God be both one and three? What does it mean that one God is the Trinity—the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit?
The concept of the Trinity is often puzzling, seeming to be both intuitive and impossible simultaneously. In brief, the Trinity is one in essence (God) and three in Person (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). However, it’s important to note that all three of these “Persons” aren’t a third of God; rather, the divine essence is fully in all three persons.
The best way that I’ve found that touches on this concept is the triad chord. In this chord, there are three distinct notes with three distinct frequencies—just like how each member of the Trinity is his own specific divine essence. And, when each of these portions of the chord combine, they create a unique oneness. It is not a contradiction for God to be both three and one because he is not three and one in the same way. He is three in a different way than he is one.
Not musical? Another imperfect approximation is the three states of water (liquid, solid, and gas)—all forms are unique and yet belonging to the same substance.
Why does God exist in a Trinity?
Ultimately, we’ll never know for certain why God is the way He is… because we’re not God. Among other lessons, the Triune God teaches us—through illustration—something essential to all humankind: community. By existing in the Trinity, God shows us what a perfect community looks like—a perfect balance between bodies, skills, and gifts that cannot be found on our broken Earth. As the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit interact, we too should exist in such seamless harmony. Although we each have our own unique bodies created by God, when we work together, we have the ability to be larger than ourselves.