A Glorious Mystery, Part I   Leave a comment

Above:  Symbol of the Holy Trinity

Image in the Public Domain


For Trinity Sunday, Year 2, according to the U.S. Presbyterian lectionary of 1966-1970


Almighty God, father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and giver of the Holy Spirit.

Keep us, we pray thee, steadfast before the great mystery of thy being,

and in faith which acknowledges thee to be the one eternal God.  Amen.

The Book of Common Worship–Provisional Services (1966), 124


Isaiah 6:1-8

1 Peter 1:10-21

John 4:7-24


The doctrine of the Trinity, as we know it, is the result of centuries of debates and numerous ecumenical councils.  Although the word “Trinity” never occurs in the New Testament, that portion of the Bible mentions the Father (YHWH), the Son (incarnated as Jesus of Nazareth), and the Holy Spirit many times.  Some passages contradict subsequent Church doctrine.  In Pauline writings and the Gospel of John, for example, the Son is subordinate to the Father.  Furthermore, in those same epistles, the Son and the Spirit are interchangeable sometimes.  And the filoque question remains current.

The nature of God is a mystery no human being can fully solve.  So be it.  The orthodox doctrine of the Trinity is the best answer in human religion.  So be it.  My Western tradition tries to explain too much; it should frolic in glorious mysteries more often.  The ultimate nature of God is one of those glorious mysteries.  So be it.

The doctrine of the Trinity invites us to give up trying to explain the nature of God and to focus instead on relating to God.  The creation, Father Robert Farrar Capon wrote in The Third Peacock, resulted from a “Trinitarian bash.”  We should, in the words of the Westminster Catechisms, glorify and fully enjoy God forever.  Love and enjoyment do not require full understanding, after all.





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