Which doctrine would you imagine is being discussed if someone pulled out an egg?

The egg is a widely used and easy-to-grasp illustration of the Trinity. An egg consists of three parts — a shell, a yolk and an egg white. Together these three parts make up one whole egg. As with all illustrations, limitations exist. The Father, the Son and the Spirit are one in essence, not three parts — so this illustration isn’t only limited but suggests the old heresy of partialism.

Finding a visual to represent the complexity of the Trinity hasn’t failed for lack of trying. Our Article of Religion (AoR) attempts a similarly heroic feat — it covers the Trinity in two sentences! Granted, each sentence is long and has lots of words that, as one of my professors would say, are “pregnant with meaning.”

The Trinity is complex enough that it’s been discussed and debated since the second century.

First listed, this AoR is perhaps foundational for the rest. It’s found in “The Discipline of The Wesleyan Church 2022,” paragraph 210, and reads:

We believe in one living and true God, both holy and loving, eternal, unlimited in power, wisdom, and goodness, the creator and preserver of all things. Within this unity there are three persons of one essential nature, power, and eternity—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

The major points of emphases arising out of the text can be considered within the framework of two numbers — ONE and THREE.

ONE” is the first substantive word in the Article following the introductory phase, “We believe in …” The first sentence’s focus is the oneness of God described as “living and true … holy and loving, eternal, unlimited in power, wisdom, and goodness, the creator and preserver of all things.”[1] This oneness refers to the essence of being of God.

Within this unity are THREE persons — the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The three persons are distinct but not separate. They share the same essence and are thus equal in power, glory and eternity.

The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are each and all three referred to in Scripture as God. Each and all create, indwell, sanctify, give life, speak, love and search the heart. Each and all are everywhere, all knowing, eternal, dwell in fellowship and exercise a single divine will. While other Wesleyan AoR unpack their distinctions, H. Orton Wiley’s words on the Trinity give a helpful overview, “God the Father sent His Son into the world to redeem us; God the Son became incarnate in order to save us; and the Holy Spirit applies the redemptive work to our souls.”[2]

We can’t realistically expect to understand everything about the Holy Trinity, but we can see it in God’s Word and believe it as true. Investing in greater understanding builds our faith.

In my daily time with God, I engage the Trinity as I begin my prayer time. I incorporate verbally and visually the truths of Romans 8:26-27:

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.

I often begin prayer by saying, “Holy Spirit, you are welcome. Holy Spirit, you’re sovereign.  As I pray today, will you lead in intercession and may I join you? Lead me into the will of God.”

I recognize that I’m actually joining the Holy Trinity in prayer — the Holy Spirit and the Son interceding for us:

… because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them (Hebrews 7:24-25); seated at the Father’s right hand (Ephesians 1:20).

The idea of praying in company with the Trinity isn’t original with me. The traditional way to think about praying to the Triune God is to pray to the Father, through the Son, in the Spirit. For instance, in Paul’s well-known prayer recorded in Ephesians 3:14-21, Paul kneels before the Father to pray that we might be strengthened with “power through his Spirit … so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.” The fullness of the Trinity becomes a reality in our lives through intercession.

The Trinity is at work in the sacrament of baptism. We acknowledge the Trinity by preceding the baptism with the question, “Do you believe in God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit?”[3] We baptize as Jesus commanded his disciples — “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit …”  (Matthew 28:19) which is part of what we call the Great Commission.

Every minister who is ordained has hands laid upon them and these words are spoken, recognizing the Trinity at work in ministry: “May God’s anointing enable you to be a faithful exponent of His Word, and an instrument for His holy sacraments, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!”[4]

And we all declare the truth of the Holy Trinity in the hymn “Holy, Holy, Holy.”

Holy, holy, holy!
Lord God Almighty!
Early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee;
Holy, holy, holy! merciful and mighty!
God in three persons, blessed Trinity!

Holy, holy, holy!
Though darkness hide Thee,
Though the eye of sinful flesh Thy glory may not see;
Only Thou art holy; there is none beside Thee,
Perfect in power, in love and purity.

Holy, holy, holy!
Lord God Almighty!
All Thy works shall praise Thy name in earth and sky and sea;
Holy, holy, holy! merciful and mighty!
God in three persons, blessed Trinity!

Dr. Wayne Schmidt is General Superintendent of The Wesleyan Church of North America.


Questions for reflection and conversation

  • Why do tangible examples of the Trinity fall short of the full concept? How are examples helpful?
  • How do we engage the Trinity in a corporate gathering or on a personal level?
  • Below is a prayer which is part of Lectio 365 daily devotional prayers. What stands out to you as new or particularly meaningful in this Trinitarian prayer?

Father, help me to live this day to the full, being true to you, in every way.
Jesus, help me to give myself away to others, being kind to everyone I meet.
Spirit, help me to love the lost, proclaiming Christ in all I do and say. Amen.


All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

“The Discipline of The Wesleyan Church 2022,” used by the permission of Wesleyan Publishing House: Fishers, Indiana.

[1] “The Discipline of The Wesleyan Church 2022,” 14.

[2] H. Orton Wiley, Christian Theology, Vol 1, 384.

[3] “The Discipline of The Wesleyan Church 2022,” 271.

[4] “The Discipline of The Wesleyan Church 2022,” 299.