I’m still finding helpful things to add to our Monday night studies of the Trinity. For instance, I saw this online over the weekend–Using shapes and dimensions to illustrate, C.S. Lewis gives a very helpful analogy explaining why our minds might struggle with the idea of three persons in one God.
I warned you that Theology is practical. The whole purpose for which we exist is to be thus taken into the life of God. Wrong ideas about what that life is, will make it harder. And now, for a few minutes, I must ask you to follow rather carefully. You know that in space you can move in three ways to left or right, backwards or forwards, up or down. Every direction is either one of these three or a compromise between them. They are called the three dimensions. Now notice this. If you’re using only one dimension, you could draw only a straight line. If you’re using two, you could draw a figure: say, a square. And a square is made up of four straight lines. Now a step further. If you have three dimensions, you can then build what we call a solid body: say, a cube a thing like a dice or a lump of sugar. And a cube is made up of six squares.
Do you see the point? A world of one dimension would be a world of straight lines. In a two-dimensional world, you still get straight lines, but many lines make one figure. In a three-dimensional world, you still get figures but many figures make one solid body. In other words, as you advance to more real and more complicated levels, you don’t leave behind you the things you found on the simpler levels; you still have them, but combined in new ways in ways you couldn’t imagine if you knew only the simpler levels. principle. The human level is a simple and rather empty level. On the human level one person is one being, and any two persons are two separate beings just as, in two dimensions (say on a flat sheet of paper) one square is one figure, and any two squares are two separate figures. On the Divine level you still find personalities; but up there you find them combined in new ways which we, who don’t live on that level, can’t imagine. In God’s dimension, so to speak, you find a being who is three Persons while remaining one Being, just as a
cube is six squares while remaining one cube.
Of course we can’t fully conceive a Being like that: just as, if we were so made that we perceived only two dimensions in space we could never properly imagine a cube. But we can get a sort of faint notion of it. And when we do we are then, for the first time in our lives, getting some positive idea, however faint, of something super-personal something more than a person. It is something we could never have guessed, and yet, once we have been told, one almost feels one ought to have been able to guess it because it fits in so well with all the things we know already. You may ask, ‘If we can’t imagine a
three-personal Being, what Is the good of talking about Him?’ Well, there isn’t any good in talking about Him. The thing that matters is being actually drawn into that three-personal life, and that may begin any time tonight, if you like.
What I mean is this. An ordinary simple Christian kneels down to say his prayers. He is trying to get into touch with God. But if he is a Christian he knows that what is prompting him to pray is also God; God, so to speak, inside him. But he also knows that all his real knowledge of God comes through Christ, the Man who was God that Christ is standing beside him, helping him to pray, praying for him. You see what is happening. God is the thing beyond the whole universe to which he is praying the goal he’s trying to reach. God is also the thing inside him which is pushing him on the motive power. God is also the road or bridge along which he is being pushed to that goal. So that the whole threefold life of the three-personal Being is actually going on in that ordinary little bedroom where an ordinary man is saying his prayers. The man is being caught up into the higher kind of life what I called Zoe or spiritual life: he is being pulled into God, by God, while still remaining himself.
And that is how Theology started. People already knew about God in a vague way. [We might argue with Lewis here–That He had revealed a lot about Himself to Israel, but the main point stands…]Then came a man who claimed to be God; and yet He wasn’t the sort of man you could dismiss as a lunatic. He made them believe Him. They met Him again after they’d seen Him killed. And then, after they had been formed into a little society or community, they found God somehow inside them as well: directing them, making them able to do things they couldn’t do before. And when they worked it all out they found they’d got the Christian definition of the three-personal God.