A Brick in the Valley

Collin Hansen on the Shack / Triple Point and the Trinity
May 31, 2008, 3:29 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

The Shack continues to be wildly popular.  It is a work of fiction that attempts an allegory of the doctrine of the Trinity.  Collin Hansen rightly cautions that writing such an allegory  is a difficult, and potentially, heretical exercise.  (Click here).

So, I like Collin’s article, but I do want to tell him about “triple points” which are really cool.

In his article, Hansen argues that using solid, liquid, and gas as an analogy for the Trinity is incorrect because all three phases of matter don’t exist at once. 

I agree that any analogy ends in heresy, but, technically, this critique is wrong.

Physicists have long understood something called “triple point” – – basically there is a combination of temperature and pressure at which all three phases of matter exist at once.

So, if you had the right temperature and pressure, you would find both ice, steam, and water existing at the same time.

There was a Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society article in 1993 by an Auburn physics professor named Michael Bozack where he made this very point.  Bozack wrote,*

In summary, the triple point shows how one substance can exist in three fundamental forms concurrently, each fully the same in nature yet clearly distinct to the extent of having a real interaction with each other, different properties, and different applications.

The triple point shares a number of common elements with the Trinity, including a singular nature shared by three coequal but distinct subsistences, economical properties, and ontological properties. . .

Bozack goes on to describe where the analogy breaks down.

*The Evangelical Theological Society, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society Volume 36, 36:67 (The Evangelical Theological Society, 1993; 2002).


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