Five Summer Lessons: Part 2

Dena Jackson told me about five key lessons she’s learned at Biola University’s Apologetics Summer Residency. You’ve heard the first two. Here are her top three:

3. I don’t understand the Trinity…and that’s ok. I’ve spent much time trying to come up with an analogy for the Trinity so that I could better understand it. Is it like an egg? The three phases of water? A 3-leaf clover? In Essential Doctrine I, Dr. Lewis assured us these are all heresy. So…out with those analogies. What if we can’t find an analogy that works? Is that proof that the Trinity is contradictory?

Dr. Lewis wisely pointed out that you can’t have an analogy to something wholly unique. I scrambled to write that down as it clicked in my brain. Just because I don’t entirely understand something or can’t see how all the pieces fit together, doesn’t mean it’s illogical. If something’s illogical it contains a contradiction or leads to a contradiction. But what’s the contradiction in the doctrine of the Trinity? I sat in class trying to come up with one. There’s none as far as I’ve seen. God’s unique and his Trinitarian nature is one of the things we cannot fully grasp. And that’s ok.

4. We can’t fully understand God…but we can partly understand him. God is unique…but he is not wholly other. Some say that God is so entirely different from us that we can’t have real knowledge of Him. But God made us in His image. Having created us, He created us in such a way that we are capable of understanding certain things about Him. He gave us a grasp of logic and the capacity for language. He knows how to utilize these tools to reveal Himself to us. Even if we only partly understand what it means for God to be three persons, yet still one being, we can know that this is the case and worship the Father, Son, and Spirit. As Paul said “now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face (1 Cor 13:12).” Though we see dimly, we see.

5. There’s no greater teacher than Christ. At orientation banquet, Dr. R. Scott Smith shared Colossians 2:2-3.

My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

Dr. Smith is a humble, earnest man of great conviction. He treats the views of others with grace. Hearing him speak of his work, it’s clear that he views what he does in apologetics as an urgent and vital mission from God. All the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in Christ. Seek Christ, the revealer of truth. Be his disciple. Humbly submit your mind to him for instruction. There is no greater teacher than Christ…and even study can be an act of worship. On to a new week of worship!

[Mikel] I appreicate Dena sharing these. You can be a part this, too! If you’re interested in Biola’s Apologetics program but don’t live in So Cal, check out the distance-learning option or test the waters with a distance certificate in Christian Apologetics (which is open to everyone regardless of educational background). I’m looking forward to being back on campus this weekend!

Discover Dena’s work: Bayside Student Ministries.  Find books by R. Scott Smith.


5 Responses to “Five Summer Lessons: Part 2”

  1. Wally Keller July 8, 2010 12:17 AM

    Dena, it sounds like you are experiencing all the joyful and enriching kinds of things that I recall from my time in the Distance Program at Biola. What a blessing to drink deeply of godly teaching, and also to mingle with the fantastic professors when possible (which turns out to be a lot). BTW: Dr. Fred Sanders was my prof who covered the trinity. He has a really solid grasp of that particular doctrine, and I left with a much better appreciation and awe of our Triune God. Power on my sister!

  2. Lance Amerman July 9, 2010 6:47 PM

    Hey Mikel (or anyone else checking in),
    I just wanted to comment on Dena’s lesson regarding the Trinity.
    I agree all analogies fall well short in attempt to explain God, but would it be helpful to show how the Trinity is analogous of entities on Earth?
    Such as, the American Government, made up of three branches. The executive, legislative and judicial are different in function, but One in essence of governing the United States of America. If the America has the best possible system in place where individuals have freedom to practice religion, maybe because it is patterned after the One true God who reveals himself in three persons. Any thoughts?

  3. Mikel July 11, 2010 9:24 PM

    Hey, Lance! Interesting idea. Seems to me the branches acting as checks and balances stand in stark contrast to the divine persons, who share in the perfect love relationship. It’d be cool to find a really good analogy, but it’s tough to accurately compare anything to an individual, undivided, divine essence, eternally existing in three persons! Hadn’t thought about that one before. Thanks for making me think!

  4. Dena July 12, 2010 11:29 PM

    Hi Wally!

    Last year Dr. Sanders taught on the Trinity during one of our special topics lectures. It was so helpful and interesting that it inspired me to do my paper on the Trinity. Like you, studying it increased my awe of God. Isn’t it amazing that sometimes the things we’re half scared to look into end up drawing us to worship? I love that!


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