March 25, 2012

The Trinity and Siamese Twins

Dear Dr. Craig,

I was looking into your podcast and came across your lectures on the Doctrine of the Trinity and I was amazed at how you were able to make sense of this doctrine even though there have been many attempts of analogies trying to illustrate our Triune God (none of which accurately represents the Trinity). Well, I would just like to note that I believe our Triune God is unique and that no analogy could illustrate his divine being. Nevertheless this doctrine has troubled me intellectually for a long time but wanting to know my God deeper, I came across your model of the Trinity which did helped me a lot. Thank you for that.

Well my question will eventually spring forth as I unravel my concerns. In part 8 of your lecture on "The Doctrine of the Trinity" you attempted to create a model of the Trinity by using the mythical character Cerberus. You did say that you felt uneasy using this model (I do too, but nevertheless it did help me).

Anyway, you began by saying that Cerberus has three heads and one body and so he has three minds and therefore three distinct states of consciousnesses. Cerberus therefore has three personalities and so he is Tri-personal. These three heads and one body can only be possible because the three minds are contained in this one physical body that Cerberus possesses. Then you further enhanced the story and added that suppose Hercules slays Cerberus and he dies yet his minds survived the death supposing they are immortal, In what sense then will they still be one being for there no longer remains a physical body to contain Cerberus's "tri-personal souls."

Well you then helped the listeners by looking into the nature of the Soul to better understand the doctrine of the Trinity. If I recall, you mentioned that what makes a human soul an individual person is because each soul is equipped with one set of rational faculties and volitional faculties which are sufficient for personhood. Now God is a soul, one being with instead of one set of rational and volitional faculties God has three sets of rational and volitional faculties. God is then one being that is three persons. This to me seems to preserve the doctrine of the Trinity. Thank you so much for this model and if I got everything right up to this point, here are my questions:

1) Would conjoined twins having two heads and one body or rather conjoined Triplets having three heads (three minds) and one body work the same way as in the scenario of Cerberus? That is, would there be one soul with three states of consciousnesses?

2) Furthermore, if that is true in the case of the conjoined triplets and thus having three states of consciousnesses, would the conjoined triplet be a Trinity if the triplet died because they are one soul or one being with three states of consciousnesses?

On another note I just want to add another question if you don't mind.

3) Earlier in this topic you mentioned that the Trinity is an identity statement to God himself and that when one says Jesus is God or the Father is God, one is not to understand it to be an identity statement but rather predications in which one means that Jesus has the property of being divine. Then you said that Jesus is not identical to the whole Godhead which is the Trinity but rather Jesus is a member of the Trinity. I became unsure of this because in Colossians 2:9 Paul writes, "For in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily." Am I to understand this as Jesus being equivalent to the Godhead or something else? Could you please help me out with this passage, I might not be taking it into context or I might not understand it the way it should be understood.

I just want to thank you again Dr. Craig for your work as it has helped me intellectually and faithfully with my walk with our Triune God.




You’ve correctly exposited my theory, Thien; but the application of it in your questions goes awry.

In the Cerberus analogy, I am not suggesting that Cerberus is one soul with three states of consciousness. Rather that hypothesis was reserved for the case of God, who is a soul endowed with three sets of rational faculties. So in response to your questions:

1. I think that in the case of Siamese twins we should have two souls, each of which is a person, in one body. If the twins could be divided, then we’d obviously have two souls, each with its own body. That’s because that’s how human persons normally are. What would be more interesting would be the case of some extra-terrestrial being which is naturally and inseparable three persons in one body. Maybe in that case we’d have a single tri-personal soul (maybe that’s what Cerberus would be like).

2. If the alien being is a tri-personal soul in one body, and the body dies, then, yes, we’d have a trinity. The difference is that it would be disembodied, whereas God is unembodied.

3. I take it that in Col. 2.9 Paul is affirming that Christ is fully divine. Against some sort of Gnostic view according to which the fullness (pleroma) of the divine being can have no intercourse with the evil, material world, Paul boldly affirms that in Christ the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, an amazing statement of Christ’s divinity.