Some of the more popular attempts at illustrating the Trinity include the water-ice-steam illustration which essentially compares it to the Trinity that this substance, though always H2O, can exist in three different states: water, ice, or steam. Another popular illustration is the egg illustration. It teaches that the Trinity is like an egg, consisting of a shell, a yolk, and egg white, all making up one egg. Another popular illustration that is often attributed to St. Patrick is that of a shamrock—consisting of three equal parts making up the whole. That illustration is similar to the pretzel illustration, that God is like a pretzel, consisting of one strand wrapped and intertwined together to make three distinct “holes.”
And while these illustrations are all different in their own ways, the one thing they all have in common is heresy.
Attempting to illustrate the Trinity has been a fruitless endeavor for Christians for over two thousand years. There is no proper way to illustrate the Trinity using a worldly or material illustration. The proper way to describe the Trinity is found in the creeds of Athanasius and affirmed by the Church for thousands of years. That the Godhead exists as one God in three co-equal, co-existing persons, all of which are fully God and do not make up incomplete parts of God. None of these attempts at illustration capture that truth and all of them describe a God that does not exist in Scripture.
The first illustration, the water-ice-steam, illustration is a heresy that is popular in Word of Faith circles and includes teachers like T.D. Jakes and Steven Furtick. This heresy is known as Sabellianism, also referred to as modalism. It teaches that the Trinity is one God in three “manifestations” that only exists in one manifestation at a time, either Father, Son, or Holy Spirit. The three cannot exist simultaneously according to this heresy.
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The other illustrations are all versions of the heresy known as partialism. Partialism is unlike modalism in that it teaches that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit do all exist together simultaneously, but make up three distinct “parts” of the Trinity to form the whole God. This separates the divine nature into three distinct parts of the divine nature. The pretzel illustration, the egg illustration, and the shamrock illustration all convey this heresy.
But that’s exactly what Tony Evans preached this week at the SBC 2022 annual meeting. During a mini-sermon where he and former Southern Baptist presidents, Ed Litton and Fred Luter were joining forces to fight against racism, Tony Evans described the Trinity as a pretzel with three different holes in it.
This is now at least three heresies that Tony Evans has embraced: a denial of the orthodox view of the Trinity, partialism, and a denial of original sin, Pelagianism, and a denial of the exclusivity of Christ, inclusivism.
In an interview with Glenn Plumber at the NRB Convention in 2004, Evans affirms a Pelagian view of Christ’s death and resurrection, stating,
But the thing that the death of Christ did was cover and overrule original sin so that no man is condemned because they are born in Adam, but men are condemned because they consciously reject salvation.
Evans also holds to inclusivism, that is, you don’t have to actually know Christ personally to be saved. In this same interview, Evans says,
If a person believes somebody’s up there that created this… I don’t know who He is but I want to know Him… if that person were to have a heart attack at that moment, God could not condemn him and be just because God says he who seeks shall find, so since God makes that promise, if God doesn’t give him the Gospel or give him a direct revelation then He has to judge him out of another dispensation.
Yet, for some reason, the woke establishment of the Southern Baptist Convention continues to platform Evans and other heretics who deny essential doctrines of the faith all because they share a common purpose in a false gospel, the social justice gospel.