A Sermon for Trinity Sunday

[Ed. This is the text of the sermon which I preached at St Albans Church in Ottawa on Trinity Sunday, 26 May 2013.]

These days it often seems as though the doctrine of the Trinity is an answer to a problem nobody asked. Theologians who rabbit on about the Trinity appear to be like the engineer in the joke about the manager in the hot-air balloon, providing information that may be technically correct, but which help the balloonist not at all.


Consider the bewildering and tongue-twisting formulations of the sixth-century Athanasian Creed, which can be found near the end of the old Book of Common Prayer:


Now the Catholic Faith is this, that we worship one God in Trinity, and the Trinity in Unity; Neither confusing the Persons, nor dividing the Substance. For there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son, another of the Holy Ghost; But the Godhead of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost is all one, the glory equal, the majesty co-eternal. (BCP 695)


And on it goes, well past the point at which we might consider uttering an expletive and chucking the book into a dusty corner. The mystery writer and Christian essayist Dorothy Sayers once parodied this kind of language, writing of ‘the Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible, and the Holy Ghost incomprehensible.’