The Holy Spirit and the other spirits – at a glance

The Holy Spirit is the God of Israel who has distinguished himself from us by raising Jesus from the dead, and now distinguishes us from one another, securing our diversity and uniqueness

1) The Holy Spirit is the God of Israel who raised Jesus from the dead. The world is the hospitality of God. There are other spirits. Spirits may be understood as natural forces, some moral authorities (nations, their institutions and ways of life).

2) The Holy Spirit is all in all, indivisible and unknowable. He can preserve himself and the Son from being grasped or known. But he makes himself known first as the communion of saints, then as the whole company of heaven.

3) Knowledge of God is God’s own knowledge of himself. It is pure and undivided. It also protects us from itself, by preventing us from attempting to grasp it. The glory of God protects us from God. It does this so that we are not shattered by the impact of his arrival, or disintegrate under the pressure of his stronger gravity.

4) The West has made Christian teaching about the holiness of God abstract and absolute, so this holiness is no longer for us.

5) The West has taught that God is too distant to enter the circle of the universe, that the universe is not God’s space for us, nor time for us but empty and neutral space and time.

6) The holiness of God is a series of force fields, within each of which God extends to us a greater and more hospitable space.

7) As a result of our rebellion this hospitable world has become a remedial and custodial version of itself.

8) Holiness burns. Yet the holiness of the things God gives is too pure to be picked up by our own perception. Regular light exposure to this holiness will toughen us, and make us holy.

9) Holiness is ‘otherness’, the otherness of God from man, and for man. It regulates and make compatible all it touches. It never becomes tangible to us
as such, is not visible to us, because it is the condition of there being objects to us.

10) Modern Western theology distinguishes the spiritual from the physical and the literal. To avoid this dualising, and show that this world is the hospitable act of God to us, we must re-state the action of God in this world for us. Our pneumatological account must be in terms of
physical things made available for us by God.

11) The Holy Spirit is the creator of plurality. He makes the host and crowd of supporters and ministers. Because the Son has these
superior numbers, he will face down his opponents.

12) The work of the Son is the effort of the Spirit. The company of the Spirit chooses the Son and raises him. The chorus fills him and
lifts him up, and lifts him from us, making him the Son, not us.

13) We can give all the credit of the Son to the Spirit. The tradition (and ‘Filioque’) do not illegitimately subordinate
the Spirit to the Son, but reflect the functionalist subordination that the Spirit takes on himself.

14) Both Son and Spirit abase and subordinate themselves and each is raised by the Father. The action (existence) that goes out from Son and Spirit is subordinate. The Son and Spirit come to the Father as his subordinates and are received by him as his equals.

15) The Spirit creates and animates the whole company of heaven. He makes this company an actor, and even makes their liturgy an actor,
and make Jesus a subordinate actor.

16) The whole company exalt Jesus. They throw themselves down before him. He exalts them. He makes them get up, not thereby saying that
their worship of him is inappropriate, but rather that it is appropriate and he has acknowledged it.

17) The Spirit will be us, but we will never be the Spirit. We are not the definition of the Spirit – Christ is that. The Son can distinguish the Spirit from us. When Christ is all in all, we will have no other definition than as his Spirit.

18) Christ is the body and the head. When he is head and body, we may also become part of this body. The body is all head, it is headed (led, perfected) but we are never that head. He is always more than we are, always what we are not.

19) We can use a secular pneumatology as an account who make us, a many too many to name, and thus an indefinable flow of influences and forces. We are the result of the efforts of scores of workers (unknown to us) who have made the material which sustains – and constitutes – our own bodies.

Read The Holy Spirit and other spirits

God and the gods: Christian theology and the modern constitution of knowledge

The argument of this essay is that we must speak about God in the face of the many gods. The Western tradition does not do this. It assumes that is that one God may or may not exist. The Christian account claims that the world is full of forces, influences and imperatives, and where these are destructive of human life, it calls them gods. Theological talk of God requires a conceptual henotheism, which concedes that these of gods are identified and defeated by the God of Jesus Christ. Christian theology does not ask if God exists, but which god is God?

God is the Holy Spirit. He is the God of Israel who has demonstrated he is holy for us by raising Jesus from the dead. There are other spirits. Some of these may be understood as natural forces, others as such moral authorities as nations, their institutions and legal systems, their figureheads and ambitions, amongst all the gods of nations other than Israel. Where these authorities are not themselves under authority, but step beyond the bounds set for them, we may call them idolatrous, sometimes even demonic. These spirits are not insubstantial and ethereal. Their impact on us is real. Only the God of Jesus Christ can give them their proper role, or rid us of them.
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