The Theology Of The Holy Spirit And The Pentecostal Churches In The Ecumenical Movement

The Theology Of The Holy Spirit And The Pentecostal Churches In The Ecumenical Movement

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17 The Theology of the Holy Spirit and the Pentecostal Churches in the Ecumenical Movement William G. Rusch* A colleague recently reminded me that one of the advantages of being involved in the ecumenical movement is that you are sometimes called upon to write papers about themes which you would not normally be involved with at a particular moment. That is certainly true of this paper. While the topic is one of great significance, aspects of which have absorbed my considerable interest at various times; under usual circumstances I would not now be endeavoring to say something about “the theology of the Holy Spirit and the Pentecostal churches in the ecumenical movement This assigned theme has caused me some discomfort. It seems to me to be something, at least if I understand it correctly, that could be better addressed by a member of a Pentecostal church than by a Lutheran. More importantly, as it is formulated, the subject could cause some problems for our friends in these churches. The Pentecostal Churches have raised a serious theological question. How is the Christian faith to be articulated and presented other than in conceptual theological language? Is this paper vulnerable to the charge of again requesting Pentecostals to move from a shared experience into an environment that is not their own? As a result of these concerns I am going to shift the focus of this paper slightly by a re-formation of the topic: How should the theology of the Holy Spirit inform all the churches in the ecumenical movement and the ecumenical movement itself? One of the immediate advantages of putting the question this way is that it underscores what Pentecostals and non-Pentecostals share rather than suggesting that there is some unique relationship between Pentecostal churches in the ecumenical movement and the Holy Spirit which can be explored in theological terms and categories. To approach the subject in the manner suggested here we need to review some of what the churches have believed, confessed and taught about the Holy Spirit over the course of time.2 Then we can address the question of how this belief, confession and teaching can serve as a resource to ecumenically committed churches. Among all the teachings of the Christian faith, the doctrine of the Holy Spirit has had a unique history. Its roots lie in the texts of the Hebrew Scriptures which see the Spirit of God as creative power and the principle in human life as well as the agent in salvation history who effects prophetic inspiration, revelation, miracles, ‘ 1 18 ‘ moral renewal and a new creation. Rabbinic Judaism looked forward to an eschatological endowment of God’s people with the Spirit of prophecy. Other traditions within Judaism recognized the presence of the Spirit of Wisdom or of the Spirit of Truth in their midst, but held a non-eschatological understanding of the Spirit. In the process of the development from an impersonal power to divine hypostasis, the Spirit was neither identified with the Messiah nor with the idea that the Spirit was mediated through the Messiah. The Old Testament and Judaism could speak of salvation without any reference to the Spirit of God.3 All four Gospels in the New Testament agree that the disciples did not receive the Holy Spirit during Jesus’ earthly life. They also agree that the Holy Spirit was present in Jesus in a unique way. Only a few sayings of Jesus mention the Spirit. This should not be interpreted as a rejection of the Spirit but rather as evidence that Jesus concentrated on the task of proclaiming and exacting the will of God; the saving and judging rule of God as King. Therefore he spoke more about the kingdom of God than about the Holy Spirit. It is as a result of the resurrection and exaltation of Jesus that the early church experienced the miracle of the coming of the Spirit. Therefore in the Synoptic tradition, the Spirit is connected with the person and mission of Jesus. In Mark this begins with Jesus’ baptism, in Matthew and Luke with his conception. The Book of Acts teaches that in consequence of Christ’s ministry, death, resurrection and exaltation, God bestows the Holy Spirit, through Christ, upon all believers and inaugurates the last period of salvation history. No longer do only specially elected persons receive the Holy Spirit. Since Pentecost, the Holy Spirit is poured out upon every believer; Pentecost marks the fulfillment of the promise made in the Old Testament and by Jesus. For the Apostle Paul, the Spirit is the dynamic power and presence of Christ in the post-resurrection church, in every Christian. The Spirit calls, empowers, shapes and forms the confession, life, and hope of the individual Christian and the community. The presence of the Spirit is evidence for Paul that the old age is gone. The Spirit as the eschatological presence of Christ, produces in Christians the mark of the eschatological life and points to the future consummation of the work of Christ. For Paul the Spirit has both an individual and communal character. The unity of the church is inferred by Paul both from the unity of Christ and from the one Spirit. The one Spirit leads to the confession of the one Lord. Schisms and divisions contradict this essential unity. The effects of the Spirit’s work are both eschatological and social. The Spirit transfers persons to a community of those who are heirs of the promises, called to holiness and the praise of God. The Spirit 2 19 is the one prerequisite for worship in the New Testament, the source of all charismatic, spiritual gifts. The Spirit’s presence by Gospel and baptism is the indispensable prerequisite for the existence of the church which he mightily endows with his gifts. In the Fourth Gospel, the Spirit is not an independent unity, but is tied closely to the words and works of Jesus. The Spirit descends on Jesus and remains on him. The Spirit does not act independently of Jesus during his ministry. Jesus has the full Spirit and only after Jesus is glorified does the Spirit exist in and for the disciples. Thus Jesus had to leave before the paraclete (the comforter) could come. It is the exalted Jesus who gives the Holy Spirit to the disciples. The Spirit, according to John, is the immediate and direct continuity between believers and Jesus. The Spirit witnesses to Jesus, forms and teaches the disciple community. The Spirit also convicts the world of sin, righteousness and judgment. The world’s accuser is the Spirit. Thereby the world is shown to be from below and condemned because it does not believe on the name of the Son of God. The Spirit alone carries out the cosmic function by the Word. Jesus’ death is interpreted as exaltation. His glorifiction is the release of the Spirit into the church and through the church into the world.4 Across the pages of the New Testament are scattered the building blocks for the later trinitarian dogma. At best, this dogma is implicit in the New Testament. What is implicit in Scripture will become explicit only in the early centuries of the church. Never- theless the New Testament bears witness to a unity of purpose, without losing sight of the distinctions between the Father, Son, and Spirit. The Holy Spirit fulfills functions that can be ascribed to God and Christ. It is this Scriptural record that provides the primary resource for the patristic church as it begins to think through its teaching about the Holy Spirit. It is inaccurate to think that in the extensive corpus of writings produced by the patristic church there was one belief, teaching and confession about the Holy Spirit. While it is accurate to acknowl- edge that by the time of the medieval church, and scholasticism in particular, such dissimilitude had sharply decreased, homogeneity did not even then result. At periods in the early church considerable unclarity, if not confusion, as well as a certain progression occurred. As the doctrine of the Holy Spirit developed between the second and fifth centuries, at least four factors were at work. They were: the role of Scripture in the church, the influence of heresy, the worship of the Church, and soteriology. The interplay of these four factors resulted in the doctrine of the Holy Spirit.5 Until the year 300 the church was aware of the Holy Spirit but it did not think out the implications of that awareness. For Christians 3 20 in of the first three centuries the Holy Spirit was real, experienced the life of the church, but the Spirit’s status and relation to the Father and Son were not scientifically formulated. In this period there are statements about the Spirit which are obscure or imply a subordination to created or impersonal forces. But clearly the Spirit is an object of adoration and faith. The Spirit belongs to the godhead, although there is extreme reluctance to address the Spirit as God. The Apostolic Fathers present no formal theology of the Holy Spirit, although reference to the Spirit can be found in their writings. The Apologists of the second century stressed the points of contact between Christianity and reason to show Christianity as a form of wisdom superior to Greek philosophy. They are almost exclusively preoccupied with the relation of the Son to the Father. At times the “Spirit” is used to express the pre-existent nature of Christ as well as the name of the third person. None of the Apologists refers to the Spirit as a creature. Irenaeus of Lyons did give attention to the Spirit beyond that of his predecessors. Irenaeus never called the Spirit “God” but he clearly regarded him as divine. The Spirit, according to Ireneaus, is God’s Wisdom from eternity, and the source of prophecy.6 Tertullian of North Africa taught the Holy Spirit’s divinity in a clear and precise fashion. As a Montanist, Tertullian wrote that the Spirit is closely joined with the Father in substance, proceeds from the Father through the Son, is third with God and the Son, is one God with the Father and Son, and is God. Clement of Alexandria often spoke of the Spirit. At times he hinted at subordination, yet his texts describe the Spirit as the might and power of the Word, inspirer of Scripture, and third in order after the Father and the Son. Origen of the same school taught on occasion the divinity of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is always with the Father and Son and always was, is and will be. Origen also stated that the Spirit is inferior to the Son. This inferiority and Origen’s debt to Platonism are clear when he writes that the Father’s action extends to all reality, the Son’s is limited to rational beings and the Holy Spirit’s to those being sanctified. In these first three centuries there is abundant reference to the Holy Spirit. The emphasis is on the Spirit’s work rather than the Spirit’s nature. The Spirit is the inspirer of Scripture and the sanctifier of believers. The Spirit is rarely called God, but no writer considers the Spirit a creature. For Cyril of Jerusalem the believers need only to know there is one God. It is enough to acknowledge the identity of the gifts of the Father and of the Holy Spirit. The nature and the substance of the Holy Spirit were not proper subjects of inquiry. This author indicates that the pressures of Arianism had not yet in the middle of 4 21 the fourth century forced the Church to think through with greater precision the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. As the logical conclusions of Arius’ teachings began to assert themselves, the teaching arose that the Spirit was a creature. By the year 360 Athanasius was resisting such views, teaching that the Holy Spirit is not a creature but belongs to the indivisible Holy Trinity and that the entire Triad is one God. The Cappadocians, Basil the Great, Gregory of Nyssa, and Gregory of Nazianzus built on Athanasius’ efforts to combat Arianism. Basil’s work On the Holy Spirit, written in AD 375, is the first work so entitled in Christian literature. Although Basil does not explicitly call the Spirit “God” or state the Spirit’s consubstantiality with the Father, he does show the divinity of the Spirit who is completely coordinate with the Father and the Son, completes the Trinity and is adored with the Father and the Son. Gregory of Nazianzus states explicitly that the Holy Spirit is God and consubstantial. He defends this opinion on the divine work of the Spirit in baptism and the adoration accorded the Spirit. Gregory admits that Scripture does not explicitly indicate the divinity of the Spirit. This he explains as a progression of development. The Old Testament revealed the Father and hinted at the Son. The New Testament disclosed the Son and suggested the Spirit. In the church the Spirit was active and revealed his true nature. The Cappadocians asserted the full divinity of the Spirit and attempted to differentiate the Son’s origination from the Spirit’s by generation and procession. Not totally successful in the latter, they did lay the foundation of future procession theology. In the West such theologians as Hilary of Poitiers and Ambrose considered the Spirit coequal and coeternal with the Father and the Son, although they did not exactly work out a teaching of the Spirit’s procession. It was the Council of Constantinople in AD 381 1 that ascribed to the Holy Spirit divine names and functions, and coordinated the Holy Spirit with the Father and Son as object of the same faith and worship. In so doing the church resolved the question of the Spirit’s status but it raised another question: the mode of the Spirit’s origin. This topic engaged theologians from Augustine until the Council of Florence. Augustine taught that the Spirit proceeds from the Father and Son. Yet there is one principle. The Spirit came forth, not born, but given. Thus the Spirit proceeds timelessly and simultaneously from the Father and Son (filioque) as one principle. Augustine saw the Holy Spirit as the bond, the common gift, of the Father and Son. His teaching of double procession was an obvious advance, but he did not solve the question of the nature of the two processions and how they differ. – 5 22 The Athanasian Creed of about AD 500 gives the Spirit the title of God, excludes tritheism and presents the double procession, and the filioque as a fact and object of orthodox faith. The Eleventh Council of Toledo in AD 675 is one of the most developed formulas produced in the West. Its creed teaches the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are one God, three persons inseparable in existence and operation but distinct in personal properties. The Father has eternity without birth, the Son eternity with birth, the Holy Spirit eternity without birth but procession. Alciun in the West and John of Damascus in the East, both of the eighth century, showed that the problem of filioque, the double procession, was recognized. The issue came to a head at the time of Photius at the end of the ninth century. Admittedly several other concerns were involved but the problem was clearly theological. Photius’ basic thesis is that just as the Son is born of the Father alone, the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father alone. In history the controversy became all out of proportion. Both East and West were striving to say the same things from different starting points. The East begins with the differences of persons. It affirms the Father is the origin of the two divine persons. It does not deny that the Father and the Son are one as principle of the Holy Spirit. The West emphasizes that the Father and Son form a single principle but it does not mean that the Son did not receive from the Father his propriety as the origin of the Spirit as, indeed, he ceaselessly receives it. Unfortunately, besides different theological methods, other issues were joined in the filioque debate. The schism that resulted was more than theological differences would warrant. But divided East and West and remained the mode of the Spirit’s origin the unresolvable agenda item as the Middle Ages began. The ninth century in the West saw the production of numerous works to defend the filioque. By the eleventh century western authors were continuing to defend the double procession and work toward a solution to the very vexing question of the precise difference between the origin of the Son and the Spirit. Among this number are included Anselm of Canterbury and Richard of St. Victor. Peter Lombard in the twelfth century created a systematic summary of the Christian faith that was studied and used through- out the Middle Ages. He believed that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are of one substance and equality. There is a unity of essence and a plurality of persons. Lombard stated that Scripture proves the procession of the Holy Spirit from the Father and the Son. He did not explore the nature of the Spirit’s origination nor its difference from the Son’s generation. In the next century Albert the Great taught that because the Holy Spirit does not proceed by nature as the Son but by love, the Spirit is not generated. Thus . . 6 23 Albert touched on the difference between generation and pro- cession, for he notes that to be generated means not merely to be produced in likeness of nature, as the Spirit is, but in likeness of nature by means of a likeness-producing operation, as the Son is, but the Spirit is not. Albert taught that the Father and Son spirate the Spirit as one spirative principle, although there are two spirators. He realized that only relations of one origin distinguished divine persons, but he could not come to an adequate definition of person.7 This task was undertaken by Thomas Aquinas who taught within the Trinity there can only be two processions: generation and procession. Thomas described them in terms of acts of under- standing and willing. There must be some element in generation that is not found in procession. Thomas’ answer is that the generative act is essentially a likeness producing act. The Word is produced in such an action, and it is called generation. In God the operation of the will that is love is not likeness of producing but impulse-producing. Here is a clear differentiation of generation and procession in terms of the inner life of the triune God. It certainly moves beyond the thought of Augustine and John of Damascus, but Thomas did not claim his views as proof of the Son’s generation by intellect and the Spirit’s procession by will. Bonaventure believed that in God there is simplicity, beatitude, and perfection. There are only two ways of producing perfectly: by nature and will. Therefore it is necessary that there are only two emanating persons and the one from whom they emanate. Thus there can only be three persons. Bonaventure stated the first person is innascible and unspirable, he generates and spirates, because the second person is unspirable but generate, he does not generate but he does spirate, because the third person is spirated and proceeds from the one who generates, he neither generates nor spirates. Bonaventure believed that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and Son and that the Spirit is neither a son nor generated. There are two modes of producing in God, by generation and will, and that this Spirit is by will. ‘ Dun Scotus held to two processions in God because there are two ways of producing, by nature and will. These two are different because they have opposite ways of principating, determinately and freely. The production of the Word is generation because it is a natural production. The Father and the Son are one principle in spirating the Holy Spirit. The spiration of the Holy Spirit is not generation because it is not a production by way of nature, but by way of will. It is both necessary and free. The Council of Florence met from 1438 to 1445 and took up the question of the filioque. The Council stated that the Holy Spirit’s 7 24 essence and subsistent being are from the Father and the Son simultaneously, that the teaching of the fathers which declares the Spirit proceeds from the Father through the Son is to be interpreted to mean that the Son as well as the Father is the cause of the Spirit. This means “through the Son” is viewed as equivalent to flioque. The Council affirmed that the filioque had been lawfully and reasonably added to the creed. According to this teaching every- thing in God is identical except where opposed relations, as in Father, Son and Holy Spirit stand in the way of identity. Here there is real distinction, but where there is no such opposition as between the divine persons and the divine essence, there is real identity and thus the three persons are of one essence. The Council of Florence had little success in restoring unity between the East and West. It was the last statement of the Western medieval church on the Trinity and the Holy Spirit. In the sixteenth century both Martin Luther and John Calvin stressed the indispensible role of the Holy Spirit in the event of justification.8 For Luther it is precisely the Spirit who makes Christ present in and for faith. The Spirit creates faith, unites us with Christ and thereby effects our justification through Christ’s alien righteousness. All this is the work of the Spirit. From first to last, justification is God’s own act. Thus Luther believed, taught and confessed the Holy Spirit for the sake of justification. The Spirit makes Christ and his atoning sacrifice and righteousness present to every believer. Where there is forgiveness of sin sanctification necessarily follows. Both are the work of God the Holy Spirit. Luther construed justification quite broadly to include regeneration no less than forgiveness. He spoke of God’s grace as ever and only of Christ, but he saw the whole Trinity involved. In Luther’s works the Spirit is unobstrusively but potently there. In the intimate partnership of the Spirit and the Son, Luther offered resources for a developed pneumatology and supported the Western view of filioque. John Calvin confessed the Trinity no less firmly than Luther. He saw the role of the Holy Spirit as the inspirer of the Scriptures making them the voice of God. The divine Word lies like a holy lawbook before us and the Spirit within testifies to it. All the mainline Reformers regarded the Spirit as essential in appropri- ating Christ’s saving work. Their understanding of the Spirit informed their ecclesiology. The Reformers rejected the medieval concept of the Church to replace it with a view of the Church as an assembly of believers called into existence by the Spirit through the gospel and empowered by the same Spirit through the same gospel to know and follow Christ. 8 25 The Reformers such as Luther and Calvin rejected the thinking of the Enthusiasts and Anabaptists who taught that the Spirit enters directly into some hearts, working prophecy and conveying prescriptions for Christian living, including new items of revelation.9 9 The seventeenth century became the age of dogmaticians on both sides of the Reformation. Robert Bellarmine documented the canons and decrees of Trent. Protestant Orthodoxy arose defining soteriology with little mention of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit’s gifts were separated from the Giver. There is an objectivizing trend and the Holy Spirit is rarely mentioned as a distinct topic. The Bible was absolutized. It carried self-evident authority as a supernatural book. It was a legal code with verse numbers. The plain printed truth was available. The age of orthodoxy could not fully understand that the Spirit must work with that book not as a bounden servant but as its free Master and ultimate Author. In the following century two movements, Pietism and Ration- alism, challenged Christianity. Authors such as Philip Spener and August Hermann Francke as Pietists included the Holy Spirit in their theology as a reaction to Orthodoxy of the seventeenth century. True religion began with a dramatic rebirth, directed by the Spirit. Religion was not a mechanical matter. Out of this context of Pietism came the development of foreign missions promoted at least in part by the view and role Pietism assigned to the Holy Spirit. Here too is to be sought the origin of the work of John Wesley. He exhorted those who accepted the Savior to seek to live in newness of life. Wesley did not want to place limits on what the grace of God could accomplish. The new relation to God appropriated through faith makes good works and holiness necessary. Wesley could not conceive of those who are justified not being made righteous in deed by the Spirit of sanctification. Holiness, sanctification and perfection are terms Wesley related to the ordering of the Christian life. The nineteenth century was a time of intellectual and cultural ferment. It was marked by the effects of the Enlightenment. In this time Friedrich Schleirmacher proposed to construct dogmatics upon a systematic and critical examination of the religious experience of the Christian community. Schleirmacher histori- cized or psychologized Christian theology in a new way. He broke decisively with the older propositional view of revelation as the impartation of timeless truths. At best Schleirmacher had an attenuated doctrine of the Spirit. It seems that the Spirit is only that common spirit of religious trust in Jesus Christ which all believers share: a type of impersonal bond of kinship and similarity among the faithful. Schleirmacher effected a dissolution of the person of the Spirit. Pneumatology was annexed to Christology. Albert 9 26 Ritschl, in contrast to Schleirmacher, grounded dogmatics on God’s self revelation in history through Jesus Christ. For Ritschl, Christianity has two foci: redemption through Christ’s sacrifice and the kingdom of God, founded by Christ as the highest good of human existence. There is little reference to the Holy Spirit in Ritschl’s works. Ritschl’s treatment of the Spirit is bound with his rejection of metaphysics in theology. It is not possible to speak of the Spirit as he exists in the Godhead. The Spirit is only comprehended in the effects of the Spirit’s work. Ritschl does not have an adequate pneumatology. While he did not follow Schleir- macher in treating the Trinity as an appendix to the Christian faith, Ritschl did not effect a recovery of classical Trinitarian theology and its witness to the Spirit. He represents a diminution of Trinitarian thought and of the doctrine of the Holy Spirit which is characteristic of nineteenth century Protestant thought. A renewed interest in the doctrine of the Holy Spirit began in the twentieth century. Theologians such as W.H. Griffith Thomas, H. Wheeler Robinson, H.B. Swete, and Howard Watkin-Jones published important monographs on the Holy Spirit. The Reformed theolo- gian Emir. Brunner in the third volume of his dogmatics discussed the Holy Spirit, God’s mode of being by which he is present within us and operates in our spirit and heart. The operation of the Holy Spirit is necessary for the Word about Christ to become the Word of Christ for us. Karl Barth in his extensive Protestant dogmatics reversed Schleirmacher by involving the entire Trinity in the self- communication of God. God’s revealedness is his self-impartation as the Spirit of the Father and the Son, and thus shows himself Lord in his freedom to become our God. The Spirit’s share in the Trinity’s divine work is discussed as several places in the Church Dogmatics in Volume 1 on God, in Volume 3 on creation and in Volume 4 on reconciliation. Rudolph Bultmann in his demythologizing of the New Testament had no substantive doctrine of the Holy Spirit. Paul Tillich in his Systematic Theology discussed life and the Spirit. Using his method of correlation Tillich maintained that human existence is filled with ambiguity. It is the “spiritual presence” which speaks to the spirit of human beings and imparts life with the dimensions of culture, morality and religion. Tillich’s discussion is part of his program neither to discard nor accept the doctrine of the Trinity in its traditional form. By the middle of the present century, authors such as Paul Althaus, Wolfgang Trillbaas and John Macquarrie were devoting major attention to pneuma- tology. At the same time the growing influence of Pentecostal and charismatic movements within the mainline denominations-move- ments, many of which trace their immediate roots to experiences in this century-caused new attention to the doctrine of the Holy ‘ 10 27 Spirit. The Roman Catholic Church in 1986 saw a major document on the Holy Spirit, the encyclical of Pope John Paul II, “Dominum et Vivificantem. “10 ° The modern ecumenical movement, whose origins also lie in this century, has had its own history of attention to the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. Most of this concern, however, has focused on the topic of the filioque and its effects on church disunity. No doubt for many Pentecostals the ecumenical movement has not given sufficient attention to an adequate pneumatology. What is needed for the present moment of the ecumenical movement is to draw from this variegated history of the doctrine the insights of understanding that the church catholic has sought to believe, confess and teach about the Holy Spirit. Several can be identified and they have a direct to the unity of divided I application churches. ‘ ‘ First, there is the insistence that the Holy Spirit is the foundation of the Church. This is critical, for immediately we should grasp that the Church and its unity is not something for which we can claim credit. Faith in the gospel, which after all is the heart of the Church and its life, is something that is given from without. It is a daily gift. In my own tradition, Luther put it that the Spirit had to lead me to accept Jesus Christ against my own reason and strength. That should be something to which all churches in the ecumenical movement can give their assent. It is not adequate to ask every church whether the gospel is central for it. What church would deny that statement? The question should be pushed so that we as Christians can agree that the Church is not built upon merely human foundations, but on the daily work of the Spirit who is after all the Spirit of Jesus and who leads us to faith in Jesus Christ as Lord. The Spirit is not something added to the gospel but the power of the gospel coming home to us. The Spirit is the one who makes real the foundation of the Church by keeping the story of Jesus at the center of the Church’s life. I have no doubt that this sounds obvious to us, but we would not be justified in claiming that the ecumenical movement and those in it, have neyer lost this insight. Human pride has been active in the ecumenical movement. Second, there is the conviction that the Spirit calls the Church. The Church which is the central preoccupation of the ecumenical movement is not a natural community. This calling is both surprising and continuous, and it is the work of the Spirit. Where are the signs that the Spirit is at work calling divided churches today? Do we see it in a strong commitment to mission together and extension of the gospel? In my own tradition we have tended to see the calling of the Church as something that occurred long ago. Contemporary Christians enlivened by the Spirit can help remind . . 11 28 many of us that the mission of the Church is not centuries ago in other lands. But this same Spirit is calling the churches in our own places in our own time. Part of ecumenical responsibility today is to seek the Spirit’s presence in the churches. When we do this, we must be sure that we do not set a high standard for others and examine our own life with less rigor. We should take seriously any sign of the presence of the Spirit in those churches ecumenically committed and open to see that the gospel of Christ is at the center of all that is undertaken. When we all begin to do this with a seriousness we shall not be able to complain that the ecumenical movement is at, what . some have described as a standstill, with uncertainty about what can happen next. Third, there is the belief that it is the Spirit who gathers the Church. Throughout the centuries the Church has insisted that it is not only called by God the Spirit, but this same Spirit gathers and continues to build the Church so that it becomes a true community. This obviously occurs on several levels. Individuals are set free in the Spirit from sin to become true persons. The Spirit continually gathers these persons into congregations, and the movement does not end there. Congregations that live in Christ through the Spirit are not content to live in isolation. The unity of the Church, whatever its final vision-and we know it not at the moment-will never be merely the peace and harmony of a local congregation. It is the Spirit that keeps Christians longing for the fellowship and concord with the Church as a whole. This work of the Spirit should keep all of us in the ecumenical movement aware of the dangers of individualism and a naive congregationalism that is indifferent to the Church catholic. Fourth, there is affirmation that the Spirit enlightens the Church. Here the Church does not see simply worldly wisdom. It acknowledges that this is the Spirit’s effort of giving birth and growth to the Church that is a mystery. Yet we should not conclude that faith is so mysterious that it is irrational. Vigorous theology, education and learning are required within the ecumenical move- ment today. If the ecumenical movement has encountered its difficulties, all too often this has been because it has been willing to accommodate the prevailing culture rather than shape it. A recognition of learning as a part of the work of the Spirit could be an added impetus to the ecumenical movement now. We would all do well in the ecumenical movement to rejoice and reach out whenever we find other Christians committed to the enlightening work of the Spirit, whether this is found in enthusiasm for Christian learning or in a life anchored in a rich theological vision. Fifth, there is awareness that the Spirit sanctifies the Church. At its best, the Church has never interpreted this as an effort at moral 12 29 improvement. Rather, sanctification by the Spirit is not a subject for human self-congratulation at moral progress or delight in the difficulties of others. It is being set apart from the world for the world, but not above it in judgment. Sanctification, as Christians have often been reminded, does not divide the Church, or for that matter Christians from sinful humanity. When God’s justifying grace is believed in the Church then that grace enlightens the misery of women and men. This all means that Christians, certainly those in the ecumenical movement, should expect to be pressed by the Spirit toward ethical concern and social passion. That here especially there is a close connection. Mission should not surprise us. We are not set apart to be protected or kept from the world but to play a role in the world for others. The unity of the ecumenical movement should never be simply for mission, but unity should not be indifferent to mission. Finally, there is the certainty that the Spirit preserves the Church. Certainly here the belief, confession and teaching of the Church is not the promise of simply institutional survival. The intention is to maintain that the Spirit keeps the Church in the one true faith and in unity with Christians everywhere. This should encourage ecumenical endeavor since the matter does rest with the Spirit, but it should not encourage ecumenical laziness. It is true that unity is not so much an achievement of the Church as it is an eschatological gift of the Spirit. We should not forget what the Spirit blesses will endure and with faithfulness. While ultimately the preservation and unity of the Church are in God’s hands, we all do well to remember we have a concern with it. We are called by this same Spirit to use our gifts to preserve and reunite this divided Church. This isn’t to say that we are to rely on our own hard work . and sincerity, but it is not to say that our hard work and sincerity are not needed in the ecumenical task. A proper recognition of the Spirit’s work in preserving the Church should not only help us with ecumenical sensitivity but it should allow those who bear heavy ecumenical responsibilities to do this with lighter hearts. We have together quickly surveyed the complex history of the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. We have identified six items of importance for Christian life and faith out of the Church’s belief, confession and teaching. I think the relevance of these items for the ecumenical movement and all churches and individuals committed to it need not be belabored here. Too often the churches have overlooked the richness of the doctrine of the Spirit for their life . and unity. Sometimes the ecumenical movement has narrowed its concern with the Spirit too much-to the problem of the filioque, as ‘ important as this is. Those churches and individuals, who remind themselves and all others in the ecumenical movement of the gifts of . , 13 30 the Spirit, have performed and are performing an invaluable function. They remind all the divided churches of the gifts and graces offered to those who boldly pray ” Veni Sanctus Spiritus. ” *William G. Rusch serves as the Ecumenical Lutheran Church in America. Officer for the ‘See e.g. my “The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit in the Patristic and Medieval Church,”in Paul D. Opsahl, ed. The Holy Spirit in the Life of the Church (Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1978), 66-98. 2For the usefulness of this formulation see Jaroslav Pelikan, The Christian Tradition, The Emergence of the Catholic Tradition (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1971), 1:1-10. 3For a fuller treatment see Gerhard Krodel, “The Functions of the Spirit in the Old Testament, The Synoptic Tradition, and the Book of Acts,” in The Holy Spirit in the Life of the Church, 10-46. 4See G. Krodel, op. cit. and Edgar Krentz “The Spirit in Pauline and Johannine Theology,” in The Holy Spirit in the Life of the Church, 47-65. 5For a discussion of some of these factors and their interplay, see Maurice F. Wiles, The Making of Christian Doctrine. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1967). 6Details concerning the patristic reformers in this and the in Rusch, following paragraphs can be found “The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit in the Patristic and Medieval Church,” op. cit. 7Details concerning the medieval references in this and the can following paragraphs be found in Rusch, “The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit in the Patristic and Medieval Church,”op.cit. 8Further information on the doctrine of the Holy from the sixteenth can be found in Bernard Spirit century to the present Holm,”The Work of the Spirit: The Reformation to the Present,” and in the literature in The Holy in the Life of the quoted in the end note, Spirit Church, 99-135. 9References to the literature of the sixteenth through twentieth centuries are given in B. Holm, op. cit. 10″Dominum et Vivificantem,” in Origins, Vol. 16, No. 4. ‘ ‘The leading ideas in this concluding section are to be found in Martin Luther’s Small Catechism, “Explanation of the Third Article.” I am particularly indebted to a paper by Timothy F. Lull, “The Holy Spirit and Ecumenism,” in Holy Spirit/Human Spirit (New York, n.d.) for a treatment of these ideas in the present ecumenical context. 14

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