Milton Walsh on “The Joy of Dogma”

We live in the mystery of the Trinity, and everything in our Catholic life is shaped by the dogmas of the Trinity and Incarnation

Detail from 'Trinity' by Andrei Rublev (c. 1410)

Detail from

Milton Walsh is the author several books, including Into All Truth: What Catholics Believe and Why, In Memory of Me: A Meditation on the Roman Canon, and Second Friends: C.S. Lewis and Ronald Knox in Conversation. In an essay titled, “The Joy of Dogma,” he discusses his most recent book, Into All Truth:

The Sunday morning homily cannot address the teachings of the Church in depth. The Catechism of the Catholic Church is a tremendous resource, but a daunting one. What I felt we needed was a roadmap through the first part of the Catechism, which deals with the faith of the Church. To the end, I have written Into All Truth: What Catholics Believe, and Why. I was tempted to call the book The Joy of Dogma because the faith of the Church is truly good news, the truth that sets us free. This book is intended for the general reader, Catholic and non-Catholic alike, and briefly summarizes what we believe, how our understanding of the faith has matured over the centuries, and what it means for our daily lives.

The foundation of the Christian faith is the dogma of the Trinity. This truth is fundamental, but also bewildering — how to approach it? I decided to enter “into the mystery of the Trinity” in part one by replicating the process by which this truth gradually emerged. Unlike the Koran (or the Book of Mormon), the Christian faith was not revealed by a single sacred text imparted at a moment in time; even the table of contents of the Bible grew over many centuries. How did we come to profess (as millions of Christians do every Sunday when they recite the Creed) that there are three Persons in one God, and what difference should that make for us?

I start my story where most stories end: at a tomb. As the great apologist Ronald Knox once wrote: “The message that electrified the first century was not, ‘Love your enemies,’ but, ‘He is risen.'” The disciples, shocked and despondent after the horrendous and humiliating crucifixion of their Master, found his tomb empty and met the risen Christ. More than resuscitated, he was radically transformed in a glorified human nature, the new Adam of a new human race.

These startling encounters changed the fearful disciples into bold evangelists, confidently asserting Christ’s Resurrection in the very city where he had been executed. This event led them to re-examine the meaning of his death: far from being the tragic interruption of a fruitful ministry, it had been the goal of Jesus’ life and the means of our salvation. This in turn prompted them to revisit a question — indeed, the question — Jesus had put to them earlier: “Who do you say that I am?” The answer was that Jesus was truly our brother, a human being like us, but also Emmanuel, God-with-us, in a way whose literalness defies our limited imagination. From the understanding that the Son is truly God, and the Holy Spirit whom he sent from the Father is also God, the dogma of the Trinity gradually took shape.

Read the entire essay on the Real Clear Religion site.

About Carl E. Olson 1088 Articles
Carl E. Olson is editor of Catholic World Report and Ignatius Insight. He is the author of Did Jesus Really Rise from the Dead?, Will Catholics Be "Left Behind", co-editor/contributor to Called To Be the Children of God, co-author of The Da Vinci Hoax (Ignatius), and author of the "Catholicism" and "Priest Prophet King" Study Guides for Word on Fire. He is also a contributor to "Our Sunday Visitor" newspaper, "The Catholic Answer" magazine, "The Catholic Herald", "National Catholic Register", "Chronicles", and other publications.