1x1x1=1 Is Not A Trinitarian Argument

In 2005 a debate took place in California between three Unitarians and three Trinitarians. It was a marginally interesting debate. On the Unitarian side were Lee Greer, Andre Dixon, & Dan Mages. On the Trinitarian side were Gabriel Coleangelo, Mike Sarkisian, & Edward Enochs.(1) In previous discussions and debates in the past I have heard Trinitarians resort to multiplication. This usually occurs when the Trinitarian is trying to explain such an inexplicable doctrine. The argument looks something like: 1x1x1=1. 

Recently I was looking over some of my books by Dr. Stanley M. Horton. In his book, Bible Doctrines: A Pentecostal Perspective he offers these opening remarks on the Trinity: "A great mystery is before us here, for, since there is only one God, only one Trinity (or "Triunity"), we have no adequate analogies, or comparisons, to aid us in understanding the Trinity of the Godhead (the divine Being that exists in a unity of three distinct, divine Persons)." (See Horton) In the footnotes Dr. Horton actually gives an analogy. It is much like the analogy given at the debate in California. He notes:
"Dr. Nathan Wood, former president of God College and Gordon Divinity School, believed we could see the imprint of the Trinity in nature. He suggested, for example, that three-dimensional space shows it. If the dimensions of a room are taken as equal units, the length goes through the entire room, so do the width and the height, yet each is distinct. And to get the space you do not add 1 + 1 +1; you multiply 1 x 1 x 1, which is still one. (Like all analogies, however, this one falls short, since dimensions are not personal.)"(2)
Phil Hernandes, a Trinitarian apologist, in an article entitled "What is the Trinity" also appeals to this argument. With some reserve he suggests, "...if God were deduced to a mathematical formulae he would not be 1+1+1=3 which would be tritheism, but would be 1x1x1=1, a unified one."(3) I think my Trinitarian friends do not really want to use this argument. The Trinity is essentially one God who is three persons. Three divine persons who are called God. Let's consider the Trinity in light of this multiplication problem. 1x1x1=1. Let's actually do the math. This equation essentially amounts to something like this:

Father = 1
Son = 1
Holy Spirit = 1

Therefore, 1x1x1=1. On the surface this seems to aid the Trinitarian argument concerning three who are called God. Let's look even closer. Remember, in Trinitarianism the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit = three divine persons. Now, let's plug in the real data:

1 (Father person) x 1 (Son person) x 1 (Holy Spirit person) = 1 (person)

How about I and my Father are one (John 10:30)?

1 (Father person) x 1 (Son person) = 1 (person)

I still see this as the wrong argument for Trinitarians. Horton is right when he says that before him lay a "great mystery" if what was before him was the Trinity. Such an argument is something like three divine persons = one divine person. I am open to being wrong here but I seriously doubt this is an orthodox Trinitarian argument. Trinitarians who have adopted some type of philosophical modalism may find this argument satisfying but do not seem to be Trinitarians (modern ones at least) at this point. Essentially, when we start to do math in our discussions of God we are heading in the wrong direction. God is one and should not be added or multiplied. Yahweh--alone--is a dynamic and living God. 


1) Click here for the Greer, Dixon, Mages and Coleangelo, Sarkisian, Enochs debate video made available from Christian Monotheism.com 

2) Horton, Stanley, M. Bible Doctrines: A Pentecostal Perspective © 1993 by Gospel Publishing House. All rights reserved.

3) Click here to read this article from Let Us Reason by Phil Hernandes

1 comment:

PaulB Thomas said...

The Lord bless you my friend
I enjoyed the post
Paul B Thomas

Adversus Trinitas

"...unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins." (John 8:24 ESV)