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Sunday, May 06, 2007

The Holy Spirit

As I mentioned in the previous post I am reading a book on Greek Orthodox Theology by Vladmir Lossky. I am roughly at the halfway mark and it has been a very challenging journey but tonight I had a wonderful moment of joy. Reading a tough theological book is much like mining for gold; there is a lot of hard work but the reward comes in finding the nugget.

One of the things that has struck me in reading this book is how much Greek Orthodoz theology can help breathe life into Pentecostal theology. Lossky is briefly discussing the work of Anselm of Canterbury and the Protestant focus on the juridical nature of Jesus' death on the cross. He says:

"If the thought of Anselm could stop at the redeeming work of Christ, isolating it from the rest of Christian teaching, it was precisely because in his time the West had already lost the true idea of the Person of the Holy Spirit, relegating Him to a secondary position by making Him into a kind of lieutenant or deputy of the Son."

Amen! How much of evangelical theology is a matter of "relegating (the Holy Spirit) to a secondary position by making Him into a kind of lieutenant or deputy of the Son"? I want to also suggest that Pentecostal theology can seek to wedge the Holy Spirit into a dominant feel-good role alongside or above the Son.

Of course, in making these comments I have left plenty of room for discussion but it has fired up my enthusiasm for Lossky and for exploring more of the wonders of Greek Orthodox theology. As I pursue further questions on the email list I will post my reflections.


Adam Gonnerman said...

The Orthodox rejection of filoque is something I hope to explore, eventually. The whole question of whether the Spirit proceeds from the Father or the Father and the Son seems pointless and unbiblical at first, but I think there's an important question of God's tri-unity in there that needs to be searched out. If the Western view is correct, then according to the Eastern Church the Holy Spirit is somehow made to be less than the Father and the Son. Not sure about this myself, though.

Colin A. Lamm said...

Les, it's great to see others wrestling with this. Frankly, I've come to the opinion that most 'Christian' westerners haven't a clue when it comes to the Holy Spirit. There's a lot that we attribute to Him, such as our personal moments of inspiration, or the internal rumblings from last night's pepperoni pizza. But the long and the short of it is that to most of us He is a complete mystery.

I wonder, along the lines of the point you have raised, whether the Holy Spirit's role is much like that of Jesus as described in Philippians 2: Ultimately, positionally, the Spirit is one with the Father and Son, but in the work of salvation (redemption) He has 'humbled Himself' in the service of the godhead on behalf of humanity?

Les said...

Adam, Thanks for the comments. I agree that what, on the surface, seems to be an academic theological argument does have implications for Christians today. I also thought the Eastern view denigrated the role of the Holy Spirit but so far I am not so sure. I believe that they have a higher view of the Spirit that can help evangelicals move away from the Jesus/God paradigm alone.

Les said...

Colin, Thankyou. I really appreciate the comments re Philippians 2. The idea that the Holy Spirit has "humbled" himself as an act of loving service is an intriguing proposition that I will certainly give more thought to.