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The plea for a revitalized theology of the Spirit who ``blows where he wills'' is a recurring theme in theology. It has been prominent in theology in recent times, but the recognition that the Spirit is, on the one hand, a relatively neglected theme in Christian theology, and yet, on the other, the essential basis of Christian faith and life is much older, appearing regularly in the theological tradition. This is not, of course, to say that such a recognition appears everywhere and at all times; many a theologian past and present appears too secure in the knowledge of God to admit to poverty in the spiritual life. Or, to put the same point in another way, the experience of God—which is, I shall argue, the primary point at issue in all talk about the Spirit, however it is defined—has not always been integrated in any meaningful way into systems of theology.
There is to this extent a pronounced pneumatological deficit in Christian theology over against, for example, its enormous elaboration of the doctrine of Christ. Clearly, Christian theology is inherently christocentric, oriented as it is to the mystery of God in Jesus Christ, the ``one mediator between God and humankind'' (1 Tim. 2:5). Following both the Pauline theme that the Spirit is the Spirit of Christ, and above all the discourse of Jesus in John 14-16, the work of the Spirit has generally been understood to be somehow hidden beneath that of Christ, with the result, however, that the former has not received the degree of sustained treatment in the history of theology that the latter has been given. The hiddenness of the Spirit has been accentuated, moreover, for historical reasons involving the reaction of the church to radical spiritual movements such as Montanism, or the radical Reformation; this has resulted in the doctrine of the Holy Spirit being closely tied—in Western theology especially—to the doctrines of church and Scripture. There is clearly a strength in this, for it functions as a defense against the wilder excesses of those who, as Luther so aptly put it, believe they have ``swallowed the Holy Spirit, feathers and all.'' The question of discernment is always central in all claims to experience of the Spirit, but the risk of domestication of the Spirit to the structures of christology or to the preaching and sacraments of the church in all of this also needs to be borne in mind. The weakness of such attempts to control spiritual experience is that the Lordship of the Spirit can all too easily be compromised, and all too often has been compromised, not so much because the link with christology and ecclesiology is itself inappropriate, but rather by default, as the question of the doctrine of the Spirit as such is insufficiently emphasized and clarified theologically.
Pneumatology requires an organic link both with christology and with ecclesiology, or else it easily degenerates into something that is by definition unrelated to Jesus Christ and that has no place in and is of no use to the church. On the other hand, to be linked to christology and ecclesiology does not necessarily mean to be dominated by them; a pneumatology in which we are concerned supremely with the Holy Spirit as ``Lord and Giver of life'' cannot be adequate where it is conceived merely as a function of christology or, worse still, of ecclesiology. One of the central arguments that will be developed in what follows is that there is a more subtle, reciprocal relation between christology and pneumatology, and between Spirit and church, than is generally allowed. The Spirit is free to blow where he wills, quite apart from the high theologies of the Word, and even of the Word incarnate, or of the church and its sacraments, which the theological tradition likes to impose on all things pneumatological. The link between pneumatology, christology, and ecclesiology is still to be acknowledged, but it is often present in theologically unexpected ways and places.
All the basic problems of theology are centered on the fact that in it, we are concerned with God and the world, and with their relations. This is true not only in traditional systems of doctrine but also, in a sense, in those recent theologies or antitheologies in which the objectivity of God is denied, for here, too, the question of the God-world relation regulates everything, even if only negatively. In pneumatology, there are, accordingly, two poles between which the doctrine of the Holy Spirit is developed: the doctrine of the person of the Spirit, on the one hand, and the doctrine of the work of the Spirit, on the other (which includes the element of human experience of the Spirit). In the former, we are concerned with developing the theme of the divine status or nature of the Spirit. Because in the Christian revelation this introduces the question of the relation of the Spirit to God the Father and to Jesus Christ his Son, this question takes a trinitarian form. This is sometimes very explicit in particular theologies and sometimes only implicit, but it is always the case. On the other hand, from the standpoint of human beings, the locus of pneumatology is the realm of faith and ecclesial life, the experienced realm of life lived in faith under the gospel of Jesus Christ. Here we are concerned with the doctrine of reconciliation to God and its outworking in human experience, where the correlate of the Christian doctrine of the Spirit in its most general sense is Christian life, including such things as worship, ethics, and spirituality. Since the doctrine of the Spirit's person and work go together, this, too, generally assumes a trinitarian form: we come to the Father through the Son, in the Spirit.
This second point suggests that Christian pneumatology might perhaps not be as insubstantial as is sometimes alleged. The spiritual life cannot itself be said to have been neglected in the Christian church, and while it does seem that, historically, the tide of interest in spirituality ebbs and flows to some extent, the quest for spiritual meaning has always been alive and well, and is even as alive and well in the contemporary context as it has ever been. Perhaps our problem in pneumatology is not so much the lack of a theology of the Spirit as an incapacity to see the work of the Spirit where it exists and, in particular, an inability or an unwillingness to integrate that work of the Spirit into the basic structures of our theological thought. The theology of prayer is a case in point; whereas praying is basic to the religious life and presumably also to all theology in the true sense of the word, and while prayer can readily be understood in pneumatological terms (Rom. 8:26-27), it is rarely treated in any detail or with any depth in systems of theology.
The effects of this on Christian theology are clear. First, the frequent neglect of the spiritual life in theological systems is impoverishing, for such theologies can only be incomplete and largely irrelevant to the life of the church. The predominance of the ideal of rationality or logos in the bulk of Christian theology may help to explain why the perhaps somewhat a-logical, unpredictable, indefinable work of the Spirit in the world has not been made theologically thematic, but it cannot excuse that fact. Without the ``source experience'' that the Spirit brings, as Noel O'Donoghue has written, the whole theological enterprise either hardens into intellectual or moral puritanism, or else tends too radically to humanism. If theology ceases to be really related to the God who is the source of life, in other words, then it is no longer truly theological.
Second, where the pneumatological reality of faith as lived is not taken up into theology, then life itself is robbed of theological depth. This does not mean that life in the Spirit has not been lived, but only that it has not always been properly thought through. The need, clearly, is both for theological reflection to be spiritually deepened and for Christian spirituality to be deepened by theological reflection. This need may be readily perceived in various places. In the Protestant tradition, where the Spirit tends to be seen as an adjunct of the Word, there is a degenerate tendency to restrict the work of the Spirit to the gift of faith in the Word; therefore, where experience of the Spirit does not arise in connection with listening to sermons or reading the Bible—to caricature the position only slightly—there is no experience of the Spirit at all. What is especially lacking here is an awareness of the Spirit's presence, not merely in the sacraments and the fellowship of the church, and wherever love is found, but also in darkness and doubt, and in the difficult carrying of the cross.
Third, pneumatological reality has long gone unrecognized as something of pneumatological importance. When, for example, theologians past and present decry the neglect of the doctrine of the Spirit, one needs to ask if they are not to some extent looking for pneumatology in the wrong place. There is a basic question here that needs to be asked but that is almost universally overlooked: What, after all, would constitute an adequate pneumatology if one were to be developed? Could it ever be even
Such an approach would at least allow us actually to make sense of what ought everywhere to be taken for granted in theology: that an illiterate peasant farmer can in fact know God better than the scholar, however learned and well acquainted with the standard written sources and issues of theology. One needs also to recall here that the first and great commandment is to love God, not to know him; in religion, it is the moral, relational dimension that is of primary importance. This does not mean that the intellectual enterprise of theology is necessarily undermined, but it does seem to imply that it will be through the love of God that it is given its real value. Theological knowledge alone can be dead and barren, but enlivened by love, it is a living and fruitful thing indeed.
Perhaps it was this that Karl Barth, the modern theologian of the Word par excellence, realized only at the end of his life when he wrote of the potentially positive contribution of liberal Protestantism, and especially of Schleiermacher, to the future of theology. In an essay entitled ``Concluding Unscientific Postscript on Schleiermacher,'' he speaks frankly of the possibility of a theology, unlike his own, that would be a theology ``predominantly and decisively of the Holy Spirit.'' ``Everything,'' he wrote, ``which needs to be said, considered, and believed about God the Father and God the Son in an understanding of the first and second articles might be shown and illuminated in its foundations through God the Holy Spirit, the vinculum pacis inter Patrem et Filium.'' Although his own characteristically christocentric approach is presented here as something that was primarily directed against the subjectivism of Schleiermacher and the liberal tradition, Barth argues that the new theology of the Spirit of which he speaks could be conceived as a rehabilitation of Schleiermacher's theology, although within the terms of his own christological corrective. The contribution of Schleiermacher is seen to lie in his analysis of the lived experience of faith on its subjective side.
In fact, all Christian theology that is worth the name must have at its heart the question of the human being who lives in relationship with God and neighbor, for it is just this that is central to the teaching and example of Jesus. Barth's own fear that liberalism's adaptation of this theme effectively relinquished the divine pole in the divine-human relationship needs to be faced squarely, but it is also important for us to note that this is an extreme judgment to which the liberals themselves would by no means have acquiesced. Certainly, we ourselves need not accept it uncritically. To accommodate one's theology to the legitimate insights of both Barth and the liberal tradition means only that the life of faith under the grace of God must itself be a proper subject for theological discussion. In particular, where—as in much contemporary theology—God is conceived in trinitarian terms as the Father who makes a place for human beings in his own life through the reconciling and glorifying work of Christ and the Spirit, the human reality thus brought into view can hardly be ignored. This is not anthropocentrism, but simply good theology.
The following pages present a theology of the Holy Spirit that draws on both old and new theological insights. First, we will examine a number of crucial episodes and questions that have emerged in the field of pneumatology in the history of Christian thought; then, toward the end, a contemporary theology of the Holy Spirit will be developed. This will be closely, but by no means uncritically, related to the theological enterprise that Barth himself initiated earlier in this century, and that characterizes so much of theology today: the return to the doctrine of the Trinity as the framework for Christian reflection. If, in short, the locus of pneumatology is the life of faith, the outworking in the individual and in the church of the divine outreach that comes from the Father, through the Son, and reaches completion ``in the Holy Spirit,'' then the question of the ground of faith and of ecclesial life in the triune God is clearly of real importance. Thus the two poles of pneumatology are held together: its locus in the experience of reconciliation in the most general sense, and its grounding in the being of God himself, the God who reaches out to the world in truth and love.
As we shall see, the doctrine of the Trinity enables us to see the work of the Spirit as something more than an inconsequential ``extra'' tacked on to the doctrine of the person and work of Christ. The trinitarian dimension also enables us to comprehend the work of the Spirit in terms adequate to the reality with which we are concerned. The Holy Spirit as the ``light of truth and fire of love'' is the Spirit of the Father and the Son, the Lord and Giver of life; and conversely, it is precisely because the Spirit is the Spirit of Father and Son that he is the Giver of life, the source of faith and love in the lives of human beings.
|Introduction: The Holy Spirit in Christian Theology||1|
|1||Spirit in Biblical Perspective||8|
|The Old Testament||11|
|Paul and Luke-Acts||18|
|2||The Patristic Consensus||35|
|The Shape of Patristic Pneumatology||35|
|The Deity of the Holy Spirit||45|
|3||The Filioque Controversy||62|
|The Western Pneumatological Tradition||62|
|A Theological Assessment of the Filioque Doctrine||75|
|The Eastern Position||81|
|4||The Reformation Tradition||86|
|The Word and the Spirit||86|
|Justification and the Spirit||95|
|The Liberals and Their Critics||108|
|5||Experience of the Spirit||124|
|The Holy Spirit and Theological Anthropology||124|
|The Charismatic Movement||136|
|The Source Experience||139|
|6||The Spirit of Jesus Christ||145|
|Jesus the "Anointed One": The Theology of Heribert Muhlen||145|
|The Theology of Walter Kasper||153|
|The Christlike Spirit||160|
|The Community of the Spirit||165|
|7||The Holy Spirit in Contemporary Trinitarian Theology||170|
|The Contemporary Trinity||170|
|Spirit, Trinity, and Revelation||179|
|Spirit, Trinity, and the Cross||184|
|Spirit, Trinity, and Eschatology||192|
|8||A Trinitarian Doctrine of the Holy Spirit||212|
|The Problem of Economic Diversity||212|
|The Reciprocity of Christ and the Spirit||229|
|The Holy Spirit in the Immanent Trinity||234|
|9||Light of Truth and Fire of Love||257|
|Name and Subject Index||297|
|Index of Scripture References||305|