Saturday, June 6, 2009

Phillips Brooks on the Trinity: "The Mystery of Light"

I am anxious to assert that the revelation of God in Jesus Christ is not the dissipation but the change, the transfiguration of mystery. The doctrine of the Trinity is not an easy, ready-made, satisfactory explanation of God, in which the inmost chambers of His life are unlocked and thrown wide open that whoso will may walk there and understand Him through and through. Often men's disappointment comes just here. The believer in the doctrine of the Trinity says, " I thought that with my acceptance of this truth all doubt, all questioning would be over. But lo ! the questions which I knew before were nothing to the questions that come flocking around me now. My heart is full of wonder. Christ, who reveals God to me, seems to escape me and elude me. The mystery of my religion is increased a hundredfold since God shone on me in the light of the gospel revelation." It is often an anxious and discouraging discovery. There is a strange confused consciousness that all is right, and yet a haunting suspicion that something is wrong, when the humble, puzzled believer thus declares the perplexity of his faith. And on the other hand the doubter and denier of the Trinity declares, " See how simple my pure doctrine is, and how complicated and hard to understand your teaching makes the nature and life of God. It has lost simplicity and clearness." There is no answer to either of them, my friends, save the one great sufficient answer which lies in the truth of the mystery of light. There is a mystery concerning God to him who sees the richness of the Divine life in the threefold unity of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, which no man feels to whom God does not seem to stand forth from the pages of his Testament in that completeness. Not as the answer to a riddle, which leaves all things clear, but as the deeper sight of God, prolific with a thousand novel questions which were never known before, clothed in a wonder which only in that larger light displayed itself, offering new worlds for faith and reverence to wander in, — so must the New Testament revelation, the truth of Father, Son, and Spirit, one perfect God, offer itself to man.

Read the whole sermon here.

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