Mystery and Promise: A Theology of Revelation

by John F. Haught

John F. Haught, who received the Ph.D. from Catholic University, is professor of theology at Georgetown University. He has written extensively on religion and science. His books include The Revelation of God in History; What is God?, The Cosmic Adventure, Nature and Propose, and Religion and Self-Acceptance.

Published by The Liturgical Press, Collegeville, Minnesota, 1993. This material was prepared for Religion Online by Ted and Winnie Brock.


(ENTIRE BOOK) The author deals with revelation from within a Roman Catholic perspective. Revelation comes in the form of a divine promise which upon reflection turns out to be nothing less than God’s own self-donation to the world. It is the gift of an image of divine humility which renders reality intelligible in an unprecedented way.


  • Chapter 1: The Gift of an Image

    The image of a self-emptying, fully relational God seems to lie at the very heart of Christian revelation. It is the underlying dynamism of the doctrine of the Trinity.

  • Chapter 2: Revelation Theology

    Catholic revelation theology is outlined. Today most Catholic theologians, along with an increasing number of Protestants, interpret revelation fundamentally as God’s personal self-gift to the world.

  • Chapter 3: Mystery

    It is at the limits of our experience and problem-oriented questioning that we consciously come up against the truly incomprehensible and uncontrollable mystery to which our lives are inherently open.

  • Chapter 4: Religion and Revelation

    Religion in its entirety can be viewed as the disclosure of a transcendent mystery. In our culture we call this mystery “God.”

  • Chapter 5: Promise

    The revelatory image of a self-emptying God explains not only the fact of reality’s mysterious openness but also why mystery presents itself to us in the mode of a promising future.

  • Chapter 6: Jesus and the Vision

    We are first brought to an explicit sense of sacred mystery through sacraments or symbols. To Christian faith, Jesus himself is the primary sacrament of our encounter with the divine mystery of promise.

  • Chapter 7: The Congregation of Hope

    Biblical inspiration is the effect of God’s promise on individuals writing within the context of a community of faith brought into existence and sustained by a vision of promise emanating from the Spirit of hope.

  • Chapter 8: Revelation and the Cosmos

    If we could learn to see the universe as the story of the unfolding of God’s promise we could then integrate our hope in the promise with the vigorous environmental concern that is needed today if life is to survive on this planet.

  • Chapter 9: The Meaning of History

    The revelation of God is experienced in connection with significant historical events that take place in the life of the faith community. But it is the "word of God" that interprets these events and allows us to see in them a promise of future fulfillment.

  • Chapter 10: Revelation and the Self

    By our faith in the God who identifies with Jesus, the God who is inseparable from the man forsaken and abandoned on the cross, we announce not only a revolution in our fundamental image of mystery, but also a drastic revision of our self-understanding.

  • Chapter 11: Reason and Revelation

    To admit that our ideas require public verification does not mean that the scientific forum, or any academic context for that matter, is the best one in which to test the truth of revelation’s substance. An ecclesial community would be more appropriate.

  • Conclusion

    The manifestation of God’s being in our world cannot occur apart from situations of social and economic inclusiveness. The glory of God is obscured and remains unrevealed to the extent that poverty, division, and oppression still reign. Where justice, unity, and love prevail, there God is revealed.