There’s a craze sweeping the youth of the nation. If you’ve been out to the mall or interacted with anyone under the age of 20, you probably know what I’m talking about. It’s this —
It’s called a “Fidget Spinner” and it’s pretty simple. There’s three spokes spanning off of a ring of ball bearings, so that when you put your thumb and forefinger in place, you flick one of the spokes and watch the device spin. Suddenly the three distinct spinner tips form a single unified motion. Isn’t that nice? When I first saw this, my mind immediately jumped to the Trinity.
Through the centuries, people have struggled to explain this central mystery of our Christian faith. In Ireland, St. Patrick used a shamrock or three-leaf clover to explain how God was three distinct persons — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit — while also being one God being. Others have used scientific descriptions to explain how something could be water, ice, and vapor all at one time. Even on our show, You’re Included, Professor of Theology at Duke University, Jeremy Begbie compared the distinctness and oneness of the Trinity to three different notes on a piano that, when struck at the same time, would form a unified and single sound.
What we’re doing here is simply a crude signpost pointing toward the true mystery of the doctrine of the Trinity. As Paul says, “We see through a glass darkly.” Each person of the Trinity is not three parts of a single object or being that can be made to visually appear as one “God.” Something like that would be heretical and would fall into the categories of Partialism, Modalism, or Sabellianism — heresies that have been corrected through church councils over the life of the church. But what it can do is, by the grace of God, point us toward the truth and get the conversation started.
We are called to be in the world but not of the world. That means interacting with culture, finding places to meet it. It might be that a fidget spinner could be a place to start with someone who has a sneaking suspicion that they need a lot more than a three-pronged toy to give them abundant life.
I’m Joseph Tkach, Speaking of LIFE.