Mystery Unveiled: The Crisis of the Trinity in Early Modern England

ISBN : 9780195339468

Paul C. H. Lim
512 Pages
162 x 236 mm
Pub date
Sep 2012
Oxford Studies in Historical Theology
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Paul C. H. Lim offers an insightful examination of the polemical debates about the doctrine of the Trinity in seventeenth-century England, showing that this philosophical and theological re-configuration significantly impacted the politics of religion in the early modern period. Through analysis of these heated polemics, Lim shows how Trinitarian God-Talk became untenable in many ecclesiastical and philosophical circles, which led to the emergence of Unitarianism. He also demonstrates that those who continued to embrace Trinitarian doctrine articulated their piety and theological perspectives in an increasingly secularized culture of discourse. Drawing on both unexplored manuscripts and well-known treatises of Continental and English provenance, he unearths the complex layers of the polemic: from biblical exegesis to reception history of patristic authorities, from popular religious radicalism during the Civil War to Puritan spirituality, from Continental Socinians to English anti-trinitarians who avowed their relative independent theological identity, from the notion of the Platonic captivity of primitive Christianity to that of Plato as " Among this book's surprising conclusions are the findings that Anti-Trinitarian sentiment arose from a Puritan ambience, in which Biblical literalism overcame rationalistic presuppositions, and that theology and philosophy were not as unconnected during this period as previously thought. Mystery Unveiled will fill a significant lacuna in early modern English intellectual history.


1. Anti-trinitarian theology and trajectory of Paul Best and John Biddle
2. Antinomian and Antitrinitarian? The fate of the Trinity, c. 1640-1660
3. Many weapons, one aim: pro-trinitarian reactions to John Biddle in context
4. Polemical and Practical? The spirituality of Cheynell and Owen in context
5. Bishops Behaving Badly? Hobbes, Baxter, and Marvell on the Problem of Conciliar History and the Nature of Heresy
6. Platonic Captivity, or Sublime Mystery? The Trinity and the Gospel of John in early modern England

About the author: 

Associate Professor of the History of Christianity, Vanderbilt Divinity School; Affiliate Professor of History, College of Arts & Sciences, Vanderbilt University

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