Friday, July 9, 2010

Preaching Myths In Modern Pulpits (Part 3)

Myth 3. The Trinity can be illustrated by water, ice, and steam.

I’ve heard this one preached a lot of times. I have to say that any illustration is going to have problems when it comes to explaining the Trinity. But is there a particular problem with this illustration?

I don't want to be harsh on the guy in this video because he is spot on in his theology of the Triune God. It is just that he is using a bad illustration, one of which I am also guilty of using. Water ice and steam is actually a good illustration for the heresy of modalism/sabellianism which goes back to the second century AD and was a reason for the Athanasian Creed. I won’t delve into an in-depth study on the Trinity right now but I recommend Paul Washer’s book “The One True God” for an excellent and simple study on the subject.

The Athanasian creed is very long but it if you need to summarize it in three points regarding the Trinity as taught in Scripture they are these:

1.There is one God.
2.This one God exists in three persons.
3.These three Persons are each fully God.

Modalism however does not teach one God in three Persons. It teaches one god in three manifestations. So the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit become different roles that God uses at different times – just like water, ice, and steam is h2o appearing in different forms. The modalist has major problems with issues like Jesus praying to the Father or Jesus’ baptism where the Father spoke and the Holy Spirit descended. For the modalist Jesus is not eternal, but how the Father appeared for 33 years. For the modalist Jesus cannot be a mediator between sinners and the Father. For the modalist Jesus cannot suffer the Father’s wrath on the cross. I could say more but I think you can see modalism is a big problem – it is idolatry.

Modalism is alive and well today. Popular “evangelical” preacher TD Jakes is a modalist as well as the singing group “Philips, Craig, and Deane”. Todd Friel told me he once met “Philips, Craig, and Deane” though obviously not all of them at the same time.

Although the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are equal and exist in perfect unity, they often carry out distinct functions as distinct persons.

1. The FATHER is the invisible God who no man has seen (John 1:18).
2. The SON is God made flesh and the perfect revelation of the Father (John1:1, John 1:14, John 1:18, John 14:9).
3. The HOLY SPIRIT is God living in the Christian (Romans 8:9, John 14:16-17, John 14:23).

Truth 3. The Scripture clearly teaches that there is One God. This One God exists in three Persons. And these three Persons are each fully God. If you define God differently to this you are an idolater.

Go On To Part 4
Go Back To Part 2
Go Back To Part 1


Heath The Blogless said...

Hey Cam great article. There is a point when water better illustrates the trinity. Its called the triple point at the correct temperature and and pressure the three phases (Liquid, gas and solid) will exist in thermodynamic equilibrium. This still is not a great way to explain the trinity though because most people don't know this or understand it and the whole point of an analogy is to make things easier to understand. So I still think it best to just state it as "one God three persons each fully God" and if people don't understand it fully then that is OK because no analogy will give the picture of who and what God truly is and the extent of His being.

Ross said...

I don't understand how Jakes can be so popular when his trinitarian theology is dodgy. Any thoughts?

Cameron Buettel said...

Jakes' popularity highlights the root of the problem. Biblically illiterate pastors who care nothing for doctrine and gospel purity. Just what is popular and draws a crowd. Churches like Willow Creek and Saddleback and Crystal Cathedral have done a great job of elevating pragmatism above biblical truth.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for hitting on modalism. Because I believe there is a guy and his organization that promote just that, when saying they promote the Trinity. The man is Christian A. Schwartz and the organization is Natural Church Development. He and his organization are based in Germany. In his book "The 3 Colors of Ministry" he says God's nature has three dimensions. This organization has been under the radar too long. I did not see him listed under labels so I do not think you have blogged about him yet, if not please do if you know anything about him let people know through your blog. Thanks

Anonymous said...

Thank you for exposing "Philips Craig and Dean" I had no idea. I was not a big I just like certain songs. But now that I know they are singing about a different Jesus I will no longer listen to any of their music.

I decided to do my own digging on PCD and I also learned that Geron Davis ("Holy Ground", "Holy of Holies", "In the Presence of Jehovah"),oel Hemphill (He's Still Working on Me), Lanny Wolfe (Greater Is He that Is in Me),worship leader Mark Carouthers (Mercy Seat) Thoro Harris who wrote the tune for "Jesus Loves the Little Children." are also Oneness Pentecostal.

They are infiltrating churches with their doctrine through music. Now more than ever churches need to research singers and teachers before using their material.

Anonymous said...

Oops I read that wrong the guy wrote "Jesus Loves the Children" NOT "Jesus Loves the Little Children."