Sir Nicholas Gimcrack

Reading Time: 2 minutes

In 1757 Ben Franklin was in England where he rented rooms from Mrs. Margaret Stevenson. Mrs. Stevenson, a widow, had a young daughter, Mary, who was intelligent and inquisitive. She immediately took to Franklin who became a father figure for the young girl and they enjoyed many science experiments together. When Franklin returned to America, they continued corresponding. In one letter he wrote to Mary he was encouraging her to continue her studies, but not at the sacrifice of character. Knowledge has it merits, but without a destination it serves no purpose. He wrote,

Dear Polly,
There is, however, a prudent Moderation to be used in Studies of this kind. The Knowledge of Nature may be ornamental, and it may be useful, but if to attain an Eminence in that, we neglect the Knowledge of Practice and essential Duties, we deserve Reprehension. For there is no Rank in Natural Knowledge of equal Dignity and Importance with that of being a good Parent, a good Child, a good Husband, or Wife, a good Neighbor or Friend, a good Subject or Citizen, that is, in short, a good Christian. Nicholas Gimcrack, therefore, who neglected the Care of his Family, to pursue Butterflies, was a just Object of Ridicule, and we must give him up as fair Game to the Satyrist. 1

I had not heard of this Sir Nicholas Gimcrack before so I looked him up. After a little research I came across an example that delivers a great word picture as to what kind of person this Gimcrack was. In the below dialogue, picture this Nicholas Gimcrack lying on his stomach on a table. In his mouth is a long piece of string which he is holding in his teeth. The other end of the string several feet away, is tied around the belly of a frog in a bowl of water, on the floor. The frog is swimming, or attempting to swim away, from Gimcrack. Gimcrack is watching and mimicking the movements of the frog with his arms and legs flailing off the table. The purpose of this exercise is to learn how to swim, from a swimming master, the frog. In walk two naive admirers of Sir Gimcrack who ask him about his method of learning how to swim.

Longvil: Have you ever tried in the water, sir?
Sir Nicholas: No, sir, but I swim most exquisitely on land.
Bruce: Do you intend to practice in the water, sir?
Sir Nicholas: Never, sir. I hate the water. I never come upon the water, sir.
Longvil: Then there will be no use of swimming.
Sir Nicholas: I content myself with the speculative part of swimming; I care not for the practice. I seldom bring anything to use; ‘tis not my way. Knowledge is my ultimate end.

So as everyone considers what they are thankful for today, be thankful for the example of Sir Nicholas.  What do you do with what you know?


1. Bennett, William J. Our Sacred Honor. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1997. Print.

How not to create a religion

Reading Time: 4 minutes

One of my favorite real world examples of the Holy Trinity, (The Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit), was the water analogy. Not long ago, that worked well for me. Water for example, can exist in three forms or states. H2O can be in liquid form, solid form, and gas or vapor. Not only can it come in those three forms, but it does change its composition from one state to the other. All three states, liquid, solid, and vapor, are still made up of one part hydrogen and two parts oxygen, (H2O). The problem with this example, and really, any real world example that tries to put the Holy Trinity in some form that we can understand, is it does not work. We just don’t have any real world examples to share with each other. Sometimes the best way to explain something like the Trinity is to explain how it does not function. That is, how the water analogy will fall short in explaining the Trinity. As I said, H2O comes in three forms, liquid, solid, and vapor. It also retains its basic elements of H2O in all three states, but it cannot be a liquid when it is a solid. Nor can it be a vapor, when it is a liquid. Water cannot be any of the other states at the same time, at one moment in time it can only be liquid, or solid, or vapor. It can never be liquid, solid, and vapor at the same time. The Trinity is a relationship between three persons who are one God at the same time. Another example of the Trinity I have heard is the different parts of an egg. The shell, the white, and the yoke, all of which are required to have an egg, but like the water example it falls short.

These examples can give us an idea of the Trinity, but the fact is, we do not have any kind of human parallel for the Trinity.

Liberal scholars often instruct the Bible does not teach about the Trinity and other main stream religions do not teach the biblical concept of the Trinity. The Jesus in Islam, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Mormonism all reject the Trinity. So where can we find evidence of the Trinity in the Bible?

Matthew 3:16-17 “As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” (NIV) Here we see Jesus being baptized, the Spirit descending on Christ, and finally the Father expressing love and pleasure with his Son. Matthew 28:19 “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…” (NIV) Jesus named all three, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Luke 1:35 “The angel answered, ‘The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.’”(NIV) Again all three are mentioned. You will find other references in 2 Corinthians 13:14, and in 1 Peter 1:2 where Peter wrote, “who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with his blood:
Grace and peace be yours in abundance.” (NIV) You will also find Old Testament references to there being more than one person. In Genesis 1:26, “Then God said, ‘Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.’” Notice the reference to more than one when creating mankind. He said let ‘us’ make mankind in ‘our’ image, not in my image. Then in Genesis 11:7, “Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.”

There are other references, but you get the idea with these scriptures alone. Dan Story wrote in The Christian Combat Manual, “Together, these passages testify that the Biblical revelation of God is one Being in essence eternally revealed as three Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We can also use deductive reasoning to demonstrate, theologically, the doctrine of the Trinity, which can be stated formally in the following syllogism:
1. Only God is omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent.
2. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are all three omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent.
3. Therefore, God is triune as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” 1

It should be obvious that if someone was going to invent a religion, they would not use concepts that are in essence beyond our understanding, but also with out any real world examples. Christianity has a lot of elements that are difficult to understand, hard to embrace, and down right difficult to practice. If you’re going to invent a religion, that is exactly what you don’t want to do. Yet, despite the difficult teachings, the terrible sufferings and persecutions by the Romans, Christianity grew in numbers not only in Israel, but into Rome and across the world. Why do you think that is?

1. Story, Dan. The Christian Combat Manual. Chattanooga: AMG, 2007. Print.

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