The legend says that St. Patrick used the shamrock to teach people in Ireland about the trinity. What exactly is the trinity and how would a shamrock help?
“Theology for Kids.” What Does That Mean?
Theology is simply a big word meaning “the study of God.” You don’t have to wait until you are a teenager or an adult to start learning about God.
Pastors and others who have read a lot of books sometimes like to use fancy words when they talk about God-stuff. Once a month in our “Big Word Breakdown,” we’ll take one of those hard words and explain it for kids (and adults) in plain English. You may be surprised how many of these ideas you already know.
What Does “Trinity” Mean?
The word “trinity” is not found in the Bible, but it is the name given to an idea found all through the Bible. The word trinity (TRIH-nih-tee) means “three in one.” It describes how the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are really just one God. The fancy way to say it is “one God in three Persons.” What that means is that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three parts of the same God.
There is a legend which may or may not be true that Patrick used the shamrock to try to explain this to the people in Ireland. There are three leaves on one plant just like there is only one God, but He is described as three Persons.
Other people like to use an egg as a picture of how this works. The egg has three parts: the shell, the yoke, and the white or clear part. Each part of the egg has a specific job to do. The shell protects the egg. The yoke grows into a baby chick. The white or clear part feeds the chick while it grows. Although they each have their own jobs, the shell, yoke, and white all make up only one egg. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit each have their own job too, but they are still just one God.
Are you confused? That’s ok. Today’s word is hard for adults to understand, so you may not fully understand it either. Just do your best, keep asking questions, and ask God to help you understand (Isaiah 55:8-11; James 1:5).
For now, just remember that trinity means three in one. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are not three gods. There is only one God who shows Himself in three special ways. Remember too that Jesus is God in a human body. He is the part of God humans could see and touch (Philippians 2:5-11; John 20:24-29).
Praise God today for being God. Thank Him for the Bible and for sending Jesus so we can learn more about what God is really like.