Re-post from last year. This is me trying to make sense of the Trinity. For now, I still stand by this analogy, I think it works. But here’s another one that I heard soon after posting this:
The Trinity is like the Sun.
The Father is the star itself.
The Son is the light that we see and that exposes us and that shows us where we’re going.
The Spirit is the warmth of the sun, what we feel when we feel God’s presence, and what keeps us alive.
This past Sunday, Will touched a bit on the Trinity. To me that’s always been a weird thing to explain to people, even to Christians. Sometimes I’d use the egg analogy, but it never quite sounded like the satisfying answer I thought it should have been.
For those of you who don’t know, the egg analogy goes something like this: If you see an eggshell, you can describe it as EGG. If you see a hard boiled egg white, you can describe it as EGG. If you see an egg yoke, you could describe it as EGG. But you can never look at one, and describe it as the other two.
In the same way, the three persons of the Trinity are God, and fully God, but are not each other.
But the parts of an egg, are 3 that make a whole, where God is whole in each of his 3 persons. He’s 300% God, and awesome because of it.
Will put it this way, God is in three persons, and each of them have distinct roles, but are fully God. But what does that mean? Back to that in a bit.
Oscar season just came and went, and people are celebrating over the winners, carping over who should have won, and poking fun in general. Well, maybe just with Leo.
Anyway, we’re going through the different roles and doing a sort of “who’s who” in my Theatre Studies class and someone mentioned this: The writer is god and the director is king.
Well this is interesting. What do these people do that make people say that?
(bear with me, blogging and studying for the exam kills two birds with one stone. NOTE: no birds were harmed in the writing of this post.)
The writer. The creator, the one who uses words and stories to figure out a particular problem in life and culture. What they write and say is the blue print for the set, the wellspring of ideas, its potential infinite in terms of creative interpretation. It’s where the themes are, it’s where the plot comes from, it’s where the characters’ psyches are mapped out. It is, the source. What is on the page, goes.
The director. They’re the ones that bring it all together, that make sure all the different production components are speaking the same message, are scoring the same themes, are telling the same story. From the actors, to the set design, they piece together this billion piece puzzle into something extraordinary. Their goal is to reconcile the world of the stage or the screen, with reality. To elicit a particular response from the audience, because that is what all art is. Ed Roy, who came to talk about what he does (and is a fantastic speaker) said (something like) this and I love it: “all art is a reaction to the artist’s cultural and living conditions and times.” Directors have to understand the context of the real world in order to make the hypothetical world relevant and engaging to the audience.
The actor. They bring the character to life, they put a face to this personality, they inhabit and exhibit the story through dialogue, monologue, soliloquy and action, or lack thereof. They become the face, or faces, of the piece. They become the personification of what the writer wanted to get across. They engage directly, or at least most closely, with the audience and the real world. They also disappear in the role. They are still themselves, it’s still their body, their voice, but on stage or on screen, they are equally their character, as defined by the writer. Even after their performance, if they’ve played iconic roles, they continue to represent that character. Sometimes they are recognized as that character rather than themselves. They are, both.
Those of you who can conceptualize the Trinity can probably see where I’m going. And those who don’t, probably can too to some degree… I trust that most people are just as clever if not more so than I.
So what happens when these three jobs or roles, the writer, the director and the actor… Are all done by the same person?
Take Joseph Gordon-Levitt (JGL) for example. He starred in, directed and wrote one of his latest films, Don Jon. What it’s about doesn’t really matter in this post, and I haven’t seen it yet, although from what I understand, it would be a good one to talk about for idolatry. Noting to self.
Anyway, so back to what Will said on Sunday: Each of the three persons of the trinity have distinct roles.
As the writer, JGL had a very specific role, as the director, he had another, and as the actor he had another. He’s got to think about what he wants this movie to say through a story, which is about image. Then he’s got to decide how he’s going make that story relevant and relatable so that the message gets across. Then he’s got to figure out how to paint that picture with people, how to make that message more tangible. At every step, he’s in a different mindset, but with the same goal.
The writer is not the director, the director is not the actor, and the actor is not the writer. BUT.
The writer is JGL. The director is JGL. The actor is JGL. They are the same person.
In the same way, the Father is not the Son, the Son is not the Spirit, and the Spirit is not the Father.
The Father is God. The Son is God. The Spirit is God.
Distinct roles, same person, and the one person can be up to all three roles at the same time. But let’s superimpose those parallels.
The writer. The Father. God. The one who creates the story that solves a particular problem. That story is the gospel, and that problem is sin. What He says goes. What He says is law.
The director. The Spirit. God. The one that is in charge of eliciting a response from the audience. You don’t often see the director, but they are the mastermind behind everything, working everything together, putting the puzzle pieces in place. One of the ways they do that, is pointing to the actor, to the set, to the score, to the world, telling the audience, don’t mind me, watch what they do, watch what the actor does and you’ll see what I did, through the actor, during all those hours of rehearsal. The Spirit bears witness to Christ. (Acts 1:8) He’s the one that moves in us, that pulls our heartstrings and gets us to respond to the story, to the Gospel.
The actor. The Son. God. The face of the story, the one acting it out and seeing it through. He engages directly with the audience, speaking at them if not to them. Christ saw the Gospel through, Christ did as he was told by the Father, Christ followed where the Spirit led Him, Christ engaged directly with the world, the audience. He is as the world knows and sees Him, a man, but equally He is as He knows Himself to be, God. Fully God, fully man.
It sounds a little egotistical of God that He’s pointing to Himself all the time, but it’s more than that. He’s not pointing at who Jesus is, as much as He’s pointing at what Jesus did… And who He did it for. He isn’t bragging, He’s telling the story.
Finally, at the risk of repeating myself, let’s put it all together.
The writer writes a story to challenge to world and solve a problem. The director tells that story to the audience through various elements, while putting focus on the actor, who sees the story through and makes it something tangible for the world to understand and engage in.
God wrote the Gospel, to challenge the world and solve this problem of sin. The Spirit, moves in so many of us to tell this story in the wonderfully unique ways we each live our lives, using our lives to point to Christ and what HE DID, not what any of us did. And what is this story, what did He do? Jesus Christ, who was sinless, died for our sin on the cross, paying our debt according to the Father’s law, so that whosoever believes in Him, can be counted as righteous and blameless, and be redeemed and eligible for eternal life.
Also, a writer, director and actor are the three main elements one needs to make a performance. Take one away, and there’s no show, no story.
Not only is the Holy Trinity one person, He is the same God being all three persons at the same time, and He is complete. He is a community in Himself. He doesn’t need us to tell that story for Him. It’s already been told, and told well, by Him.
We just recommend the show and let Him speak for Himself to others.