This book, the first serious analysis of the doctrine of the Trinity for many years, presents a defense against the conservative treatment of the Trinity as an impenetrable "mystery," and against the radical position that the doctrine is incoherent and therefore unacceptable.
Brown favors "the founding of a new discipline of philosophical theology (or the widening of the horizons of the philosophy of religion) to apply more widely the type of penetration of theology by philosophy" that he exemplifies in his treatment of the Trinity.
He argues for belief in an interventionist God (theism rather than deism), and contends that biblical criticism and historical research do not imply the abandonment of Christian belief, since "the historical original" should not be equated with "theological truth." Although historical difficulties must prevent any literal acceptance of the Gospel accounts in toto, "the true Christ" can be disentangled from "the historical Jesus" by philosophical method.
Wide-ranging in scope, rigorous and candid in argument, Brown's work will prove of interest to educated Christian laypersons and others beyond the boundaries of professional theology and philosophy of religion.
Perhaps most provocative is Brown's assertion that the Resurrection must be accepted as a literally true visionary experience, and that anyone who accepts it must be prepared to take seriously other visionary experiences, for example, visions of the Virgin Mary, even if he rejects them in the end. "It is certainly an astonishing truth that God should be so interested in a being of such vastly inferior powers as man," says the author. "But that clearly must be the implication of the doctrine of the Trinity . . ." To have reached this conclusion by means of philosophical argument is to have taken a major step toward the "complete penetration of theology by philosophy" that Brown calls for.