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How can I explain the Trinity to children?
Thank you for asking a question about the Holy Trinity. I am also pleased that you are interested in teaching children about this important subject. It is our hope that, with God's guidance, you are able to teach the children you are in contact with, and to encourage them to continue in the Christian faith.
As you may be aware, the doctrine of the Trinity is the Bible's declaration that there is one God made up of three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Jesus mentions these three persons together, telling the disciples to "make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (Matthew 28:19). We also find that all three are personally present at the Baptism of Jesus, found in Matthew 3:13-17.
It is impossible for us to comprehend the exact nature of the Trinity. We believe in the Trinity because it is revealed in Scripture. Our rationalist tradition teaches us to understand things in order to believe them. In the case of biblical revelation, however, as one ancient Christian writer put it, 'We believe in order to understand'. Furthermore, we are told that God is Spirit (John 4:24) and as such, He is beyond our limited understanding of His eternal being. The essential reasons we accept the Trinity are first that we are repeatedly told in Scripture that "the Lord our God, the Lord is one" (Deuteronomy 6:4): and secondly in the New Testament, while that teaching is maintained, Jesus is described as his uncreated Son (John 1) who accepted worship (John 20:28) and that the Holy Spirit spoke with his own divine authority (Acts 13:2; Hebrews 3:7).
Throughout the history of the Church, theologians have sought analogies from life to illustrate the Trinity. One such was Gregory of Nyssa (c.335-395 AD), a famous Greek bishop who used the idea of a chain made up of three links, each unique but nevertheless inseparable and making up only one chain. Another analogy that has been used is the idea of a triangle with three equal sides (what in mathematics is called an 'equilateral' triangle'): each side is distinct yet equal, each has exactly the same angular relationship with the other two sides, alone they are merely lines, yet together they make up one single thing - the triangle.
The problem with all such attempts is that they don't entirely work - for example in explaining the profound relationships between Father or the Son or the Holy Spirit. It can be useful to use 'pictures' like these to explain the Trinity to children but only as a starting point for further learning, and always in conjunction with drawing upon biblical truths so that the children realise that the truth of God's nature comes from the divinely inspired Scriptures and not from human imagination.
I would recommend that you speak to your church leaders regarding this question, that they may help you in forming an answer and a method of teaching the children.
In conclusion, we believe that the nature of the Trinity has been clearly revealed in Scripture, particularly in the passages mentioned above. We believe the oneness of God; that the persons of the Trinity cannot be separated, yet they are three persons dwelling together in unity.
Here are some more Bible Verses for your further consideration:
- Matthew 3:13-17
- Matthew 28:19
- 1 John 5:7
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*Taken From The New King James Version of the Holy Bible unless stated otherwise
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