Theological English (2): The Holy Trinity

In this third video on “Theological English”, Jonathan Dunne looks at another Christian paradox, the concept of the Holy Trinity – God as “three in one”. How is it possible for God to be three and one? Surely he is one or the other. The answer can be found in language.

To access all the videos in this course, use the drop-down menu “Theological English (Video Course)” above. The videos can be watched on Vimeo and YouTube.


It is remarkable that the number 1 is a straight line. We teach our children to count from the number 1 upwards, and when we learn a foreign language, we do the same. But the line separates, it forms a barrier. It is also unstable. A wall can come crashing down, a tower topples.

What is also remarkable is that the ego in English – I – is also a straight line and very similar in appearance to the number 1. So when we teach our children to count from 1 upwards, we are in effect teaching them to start with the ego. This conditions all our thinking. We start with ourselves, instead of starting with the other.

We should actually start with the number 0. 0 stands for the Other. It also stands for God, since 0 represents infinity and is unending (it goes round and round). We might even see that the word G O D is made up of three zeros, one after the other, and this will be important when it comes to understanding the word ONE.

Christianity is full of paradox. Christ says, for example, that we must lose our life in order to find it. This is paradoxical – how can you possibly lose your life and find it? I have discussed this in another article. Another paradox is that the first will be last, and the last first. Again, it seems paradoxical, and I have talked about this paradox here.

Well, one of the biggest paradoxes in Christianity is the concept of the Holy Trinity – that God is three in one. How can that be? Surely, he is either three or one. How can he be both?

Again, language will give us the answer, because language contains information about the meaning of life, about God, ourselves, existence, the world, the creation, the Fall, etc.

It will be easier to understand if we write it in the following way: three in ONE. The Holy Trinity is made up of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Three persons, but one essence. The Son is begotten of the Father before all ages. The Spirit proceeds from the Father (and not from the Son, as is recited in the Creed in Western Churches, a later addition).

Three in ONE. Three distinct persons, but one essence. Let us imagine that God the Father is 1, God the Son is 2 and God the Holy Spirit is 3.

We will add these numbers as subscripts to the number 0 or O. So God the Father is O1, which means that he is ‘no one’. The only thing here is that in chemistry the subscript 1 is not normally written down, so we would say simply that God the Father is O.

There is confirmation for this in the Greek language, where the word for ‘God’ is theos. If we omit the final s (as happens in the vocative and is very common in spoken Greek), this can be read the O.

God the Son is O2, which happens to be the chemical formula for oxygen (the air we breathe). And God the Holy Spirit is O3, the chemical formula for ozone, the protective layer that surrounds the planet on which we live.

Now all this information – God the Father as O, God the Son as O2 and God the Holy Spirit as O3 – can be found in the number ONE, because the one number that the number ONE does not contain is itself (1). ONE contains the numbers O, 2 (on its side) and 3 (back to front). It does not contain 1 because in chemistry the subscript 1 is not written down and because there is no selfish impulse in God, there is only love.

Three in ONE. It turns out that this concept of the Holy Trinity is literally true. That is the information about the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is contained in the word itself.

There are other connections. For example, if we combine the Son (O2) and the Holy Spirit (O3), we find that they are present in MOON (the 2 is on its side again, the 3 is on its front). This reminds us of the obvious similarity in sound between Son and Sun, so it would seem that God is the air we breathe, he is the light we see by during the day and he is the reflection of that light in the night, so that we even see in the darkness.

And if we remember that the word for ‘Spirit’ in Greek is pneuma – that is ‘wind’ – and that the letter that represents breath in the alphabet is h, then if we combine the Son (O2) and the Holy Spirit (this time written as H), we find that they make up the chemical formula for water: H2O. This means that we drink God as well.

God is all around us. He is ‘everywhere present’. He is even in the language we speak. Since we are translators, there is nothing in this world that is of our own making. All the materials we use were here when we arrived – we transform them into something else, we translate them, just as we translate the air we breathe and the food we eat.

But we have to open our eyes to see him. Eye sounds the same as I. We breathe life into the line and make a circle: O. We open our spiritual eye. When we teach our children to count from 1, we are making life much more difficult for them, because once you start counting from 1, there is no end, you will never reach the answer, when all you had to do was count down to 0.

Jonathan Dunne,