# Thread: to think in threes

1. ## to think in threes

That is to think in threes. Twos and threes produce different questions. When thinking in twos, we can ask, 'Is the Bible authoritative?' And that will invite a yes/no ...

What does to think in threes mean?

2. ## Re: to think in threes

This is a phrase coined by the author. Although the author outlines the definitions, they don't really make much sense to sense to me.

According to the author's logic, asking yes/no question is "thinking in twos', while asking broader questions is "thinking in threes".

The author alternately refer to them as binary and triadic questions, but again, that seems like strange terminology to me.

3. ## Re: to think in threes

You have to read the entire passage.
The word (1) has a meaning (2) for specific people (3).
The process of considering that third element, the context of the message, is the "third" so if you think "in threes" you'll have a better picture.

I'm not saying I agree or disagree with the author (the point about the Bible being "authoritative" for "Christians" was not a great example since it's far from a universally true statement), but just explaining what the author is saying.

However, I do agree that meanings change with context. That's why we BEG people to provide context, despite that half the time get back a surly "I just want to know if it's right or not!" So you need to think "in fours" - the people (3) and the context they are in (4).

4. ## Re: to think in threes

The author is referring back to the previous paragraph where he has discussed thinking in twos or threes.

In his view thinking in twos means thinking about "(1) words [and] (2) multiple meanings."
(i.e. the two things you should think about are words and multiple meanings).

Similarly, he says that thinking in threes means thinking about "(1) words and their (2) meanings for (3) particular persons".
(i.e. the three things you should think about are words and their meanings for particular people. Because words will often mean different things to different people, especially if they are from another country or culture, or if they have a different religion).

5. ## Re: to think in threes

Originally Posted by Skrej
The author alternately refer to them as binary and triadic questions, but again, that seems like strange terminology to me.
I don't understand the binary reference other than on the basic level of "two of something", but the word "triad" made me instantly think of the Trinity; "God The Father, Son and Holy Spirit", which would fit well in a book about "the Practice of Christian Theology".
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trinity

The only "two" I can think of, in this context, are the Old and New Testaments, which together make the Bible.

6. ## Re: to think in threes

No the "binary" is simply "Bible=Authoritative" (two)
The "triad" is "Bible=Authoritative FOR Christians" (three)

I heard "triad" and think music. I hear "trinity" and think... well... of the Holy Trinity.

7. ## Re: to think in threes

Sorry BarbD, I know that was what he was saying, I just didn't explain it very well.

I was just meaning that being a Christian, he was probably also relating to the concept of twos and threes in some other theological way as well. Since three forming the Trinity is such a significant concept, it is not unreasonable to think that someone who teaches theology might like the fact that his own theory also uses threes.

"The Christian doctrine of the Trinity (from Latin trinitas "triad", from trinus "threefold")"

I was therefore wondering what his the link for "two" might be, beyond his own theory.

8. ## Re: to think in threes

I'm not a teacher and not a native speaker.

In my opinion, "to think in twos" means "to consider the yes/no alternative", "to think in threes" means "the yes/no/I don't know choice".

9. ## Re: to think in threes

I think the important thing for our learners, is to realize these are phrases coined by the author, rather than being common or widely used phrases.

Outside of discussing the author's ideas, they won't be phrases you could transfer to your own future conversations.

10. ## Re: to think in threes

I am translating an English book into Chinese. I don't know how to translate "to think in threes," so I Google the phrase. The passage I am translating is as follows:

As I prayed, slowly the mind of God started to be revealed. I started to think in threes. It was no great deal. No flashing lights from heaven. No sudden inspiration. Just a slow development of a thought, until I realized that God in his wisdom had given the key. If only Christians would get together in groups of three to pray for their non-Christian neighbours and friends, wouldn’t they then become the answer to their own prayers, and God would give them opportunities to share their faith at a very natural and ordinary level? And surely if they were able to share their faith with their non-Christian neighbours, and they came to Christ, then that group of three would be the first point of reference for those new Christians. That would fit in with Eddie Gibb’s scheme, I thought. He wanted to see nurture groups established in the aftermath of the main Billy Graham meetings. What better way to nurture them than to have a group of three turning from a prayer group into a nurture group.

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