The Holy Spirit and the other spirits

God is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the God of Israel who raised Jesus from the dead. There are other spirits. Spirits may be understood as natural forces, some moral authorities. Some of these authorities are institutions, so nations, their legal systems and governments, empires, their rulers and their figureheads. Where these authorities are not themselves under authority, we can refer to them as gods, the gods of nations other than Israel. When these step beyond the bounds set for them, we may also call them idolatrous, and even demonic. These spirits are not insubstantial and ethereal. Their impact on us is real. Only the gospel of Christ can either give them their proper role, or rid us of them.

The Holy Spirit makes a world for us. This world is composed of things which together represent the hospitality of God, and his invitation to pass that hospitality on, and exercise it for one another. So God, the Holy Spirit, makes things physical for us. The Spirit makes the body, and indeed many bodies, and he makes the letter, and he makes the law, the Scripture, and the many words of God, some invitations, some commands. As long as these are sourced from the Spirit, and return to him to be refreshed by him, they are good. When they are withheld from him, they decay and cease to be what he made them. The Holy Spirit supplies us also with order and instruction, guides and guidelines, rules and institutions, forms of public order and worship. The Spirit is not against the letter, or the institution, or tradition or ritual. He creates, sustains and renews them. He is not responsible only for the spontaneity, but also for the continuity and reliability of all that is. We can talk about the Spirit only by talking about the continuum of this world with heaven as the act, and the economy of the acts, of the hospitality of God. We talk about the Spirit by talking about the world as the act of his hospitality.

For a summary of this paper, see The Holy Spirit and the other spirits – at a glance

1. The Spirit of the Lord
2. The Spirit of holiness
3. The physical theory
4. Other spirits and their histories
5. The political pneumatologist
6. The Spirit exalts the Son
7. The Son exalts the Spirit

In this essay I offer you two innovations:
1. First comes the life then the body, first the motion then the material, first spirit then the physical.
2. Spirit means the whole. First spirit means the whole, then more than the whole. It means first the physical, and only then the more-than-physical, the transcendent.

Spirit and spirituality
God is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the God of Israel who raised Jesus from the dead. There are other spirits. Spirits may be understood as natural forces, some moral authorities. Some of these authorities are institutions, so nations, their legal systems and governments, empires, their rulers and their figureheads. Where these authorities are not themselves under authority, we can refer to them as gods, the gods of nations other than Israel. When these step beyond the bounds set for them, we may also call them idolatrous, and even demonic. These spirits are not insubstantial and ethereal. Their impact on us is real. Only the gospel of Christ can either give them their proper role, or rid us of them.
The Holy Spirit makes a world for us. This world is composed of things which together represent the hospitality of God, and his invitation to pass that hospitality on, and exercise it for one another. So God, the Holy Spirit, makes things physical for us. The Spirit makes the body, and indeed many bodies, and he makes the letter, and he makes the law, the Scripture, and the many words of God, some invitations, some commands. As long as these are sourced from the Spirit, and return to him to be refreshed by him, they are good. When they are withheld from him, they decay and cease to be what he made them. The Holy Spirit supplies us also with order and instruction, guides and guidelines, rules and institutions, forms of public order and worship. The Spirit is not against the letter, or the institution, or tradition or ritual. He creates, sustains and renews them. He is not responsible only for the spontaneity, but also for the continuity and reliability of all that is. We can talk about the Spirit only by talking about the continuum of this world with heaven as the act, and the economy of the acts, of the hospitality of God. We talk about the Spirit by talking about the world as the act of his hospitality.

The word ‘spirit’ also refer to the totality of what is. The Spirit is that continuum that comprehends all natural, conceptual and moral entities. In this essay I will set out some of the relationship of pneumatology to theology. I will make a brief excursion into the Western intellectual tradition to remind ourselves of the variety of ways in the which the concept of ‘spirit’ appears in discussions of being and act, soul and mind, and of bodies and living forces. A pneumatology is a theory of everything. The West has several such theories of everything, moral and physical pneumatologies, but to say this already indicates a problem. A pneumatology is a continuum, which necessarily embraces both sides of whatever division we identify, and thus it must be both moral and physical. It must be the unity of both. So I must also argue that, because it breaks everything up into the two economies of nature and freedom, the West has no pneumatology. It does not allow that there is any single continuum, or any single account of man freely in relationship with the world. Man is understood as alive and free only as he separates himself from everything else, leaving the economy of nature, rejecting the hospitality of God, and becoming entirely his own creation. Then I will come back to talk about the Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead, in order to connect our anthropology and pneumatology to Christology.

1. The Spirit of the Lord
This Holy Spirit is the God of Israel. He is Lord, the authority of all other authorities. He licences them, and makes them his witnesses, who acknowledge what they receive from him. There is no knowledge of him outside the field of his operation. God is not separable from God, and knowledge of God is God’s knowledge of himself, so knowledge of God is not separable from God. It is his own act, and his own act is his own very being, for us. Knowledge of God is Spirit, that is, it is God himself. God is impenetrable and unknowable. No other spirit can penetrate him nor other power summon him. He divides but is not himself divisible. He can open, and pass through every thing, for everything that is not him himself is created, and is determined and known by him. But he is impervious, so cannot be opened or entered. He can search and examine, but no one can examine him or oblige him to make himself known. The Spirit is the God of gods, the ruler of our rulers. He will protect us from them, and from all their underlings and representatives. He is the Spirit of the Lord, Jesus, who has been anointed, given to men, rejected by them, raised from them, and who is now set over them. The Spirit is Jesus Christ, resurrected and united to his people. ‘Christ is risen’ means that Jesus is no longer this one man alone, isolated and graspable, no longer in our power or the object of our knowledge. This one man is now raised and sits at the right hand of the Father, with all the patriarchs and leaders of Israel his servants behind him. Beneath him are all other powers and authorities. The gods, properly made obedient and ordered beneath him, are thus not gods, but willing creatures, set over us to do us good. The Spirit produces this great company and army, so the God of Israel (YHWH) is known by the train of his glory (Kavod, Shekinah). This company that he has surrounded himself with, is the anointing, that is, the Christ-ing, of Jesus. He is anointed and crowned with them. As he is raised above them, so they are given to him. His resurrection is his being given them, and surrounded with them. He has overcome all the powers that came against him, and has taken possession of them.

The indivisible Spirit dispenses himself
The holy Spirit is impenetrable, but he can enter everywhere. Nothing is fine-meshed enough to keep him out. ‘The Spirit searches all things, even the deep the things of God.’ Nothing may penetrate or know him. ‘No one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.’ The kings he has overcome cannot summon him, grasp him or in any way make him subject to their apparatus of vision and control. He is that immoveable rock that will shatter whatever comes against it. He is fluid, and able to infiltrate, permeate and mutate anything, without that thing even being aware of it. The Spirit is limitlessly solid and unyielding, and he is limitlessly fluid and swift.
We moderns believe everything is comprehended by time and divisible by time. Time is the pneumatology of the West. There is nothing more basic than it. Yet more basic than time is the Spirit of the Lord. He is more seamless and less indivisible than time. The modern concept of time is a poor imitation of the Spirit of the Lord. What time, our most fundamental spirit, attempts to hold apart, the holy Spirit holds together and makes one single time.

The Holy Spirit is the God of Israel. The God of Israel is the Lord of hosts, Sabbaoth. Because he has many forces behind him, he is powerful. He has a lot of backers and is powerful because of them. Indeed he has all forces, is all-powerful, almighty. This is to say that his forces are the phenomena of his power, but not the source of it. He does not rely on them, but they on him. They are his creatures, but he does not leave them idle, but uses them in his work.

It is worth making both of these statements, that God has many forces behind him, and that they are his creatures. Christian theology has tended to think it can dispense with this first statement about God’s many forces because it has come up with much stronger second statement that God is sole origin of his force. But for heuristic purposes it must not do that. It should continue to say that God is also powerful because he has many forces behind him. It should continue to make explicit the cosmogonic theology in which God is God of gods and not simply replace it with a doctrine of creation ex nihilo in which he is the sole God. We need to say both that there are no other gods beside him, and that there are other gods, and that they are the powers that God orders and rules, and saves us from. We need to say both that God is alone, and that he is one of many, and the gods are the willing members of the assembly that God gathers around himself. We need to say both that God has a company, and this because he is intrinsically communion, as well as that God is alone and is one: monotheism requires henotheism. We need to keep these two accounts together so we do not replace the plurality implicit in this henotheism with the unity of monotheism, with its tendency to become monadism. Unity that abolishes plurality is as pagan as a failure of unity.

What is the relationship between the Spirit and all his various hosts? Imagine we draw a solid line from left to right, and said (1) the Holy Spirit is indivisible and all in all. Then under it we draw another line, this time a dashed line and said (2) that is the company of heaven, and another more dashed line beneath it and said (3) ‘the communion of saints’, and beneath it a very dotted line for (4) ‘the people of Israel’, and beneath that we made just a single dot and said (5) ‘One Israelite, Jesus, the son of David’. Then this single Israelite, himself raised by the whole Spirit, can send the whole Spirit, but in a different format, as infinitely small, too small to meet any resistance. Imagine this spirit came as mist too fine to be noticed, made of particles too small to be measured, each made of uniquely powerful atomic forces. Imagine that each such particle contains the whole Spirit, who himself contains the whole company of heaven and communion of saints. Each particle can enter us at any point, and having entered, it can call down more of that particle mist. Together these particles start to re-engineer us, to summon and receive more of these particles. This is what this one Israelite, who contains the whole company of heaven and communion of saints, has done. We call the event of our being invaded by this mist, ‘baptism’. The whole company of heaven is in us. They are in us, but they are not contained by us. They come and go in us because we are too crudely constructed to represent any kind of barrier or container to them. Every one of these particles serves to bind us to the whole of the rest of mist, so we can never be separated from it. And yet we can never know this Spirit, or be said to have him. We are his possession, not he ours.

The Spirit dispenses himself. He does so as ‘gifts of the Spirit’, which we may also call ‘offices’. The Church is equipped and served by its many members serving one another. Each Christian has a particular office he or she has to exercise for the whole Church. The Spirit dispenses Christ to us in the medium of all the particular Christians who serve us, and do so by exercising authority over us and disciplining us, and whom we must also serve. The gifts of the Spirit may also be called ‘charisms’, or ‘sacraments’. A sacrament is a device that, when it receives a signal, emits a signal in response. It is a transponder. God drops something into us that emits an answering bleep to guide in more resources. These resources become skills, amongst which are the skills of finding these resources in one another, and bringing them out of one another. The gifts of the Spirit represent a trickle-down of proficiency that integrates and equips the whole body. The gifts of the Spirit all amount to Christ-like-ness. The Spirit makes us disciples, who increasingly let go of all other forms of support and consolation. The Spirit comforts us only enough to wean us off all other comfort. Our experience of the Spirit is no tangible or direct experience. It is by faith, which is to say, in obedience to, and contentment with, the promise received. He cares for us by giving us leaders and teachers who provide us with the guidelines and discipline which ensure that we remain one undivided eucharistic community. The prophets and the apostles, and the apostolic witness of Scripture, and the tradition of reception of Scripture passed on by the doctors of the Church, including those teaching this present generation of the Church, are the gifts of the Spirit to us. They are not known as what they are – prophets and apostles – apart from the Holy Spirit making them this, and recognising them as such, and passing that recognition to us. Christ is not reached by any immediate route that cuts out those these witnesses, or that short-cuts their discipline. The whole liturgy, tradition and the institutions of the Church, are the gift of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is not mixed or lost in them, for he is well competent to disassociate himself from every thing that becomes our work rather than his. But he does not allow that we know him any other way than by these his works. And it is in the way of discipleship of Christ only, as a merciful God, who has bowed himself to us, that he makes himself known.

2. The Spirit of holiness
God is holy. Holiness goes out from God. He is holy in himself, but he is also holy for us. He makes us holy. He makes us God-compatible. He extends some of his attributes and responsibilities to us, intending that we come to exercise them with him. By the release and delegation of these attributes the Spirit brings his Church into being, assembling us before God. God is different from us. There are two things to say about this difference. It is overcome. We are rendered God-compatible. And it is increased. We are increasingly distinguished, from God, and from one another.

Light and fire
God creates and sustain the whole economy of his hospitality. The hospitality of God connects earth to heaven. That connection was made visible to Israel as a column of fire. This represented the ongoing creating and renewing of the earth, and it represented the destruction of what is not compatible with that creation. The Holy Spirit represents the whole process of the coming into being of all that will be. He is the becoming of the new creation. This column, also surrounds and constitutes the borders of this economy, keeping out what does not belong to it. This column leads the people of God through the wilderness, and it integrates them into this column. The Spirit creates a procession that stretches from the Son to us, and passes gifts down this column and makes us proceed along it. The Spirit makes us the procession of the Son. At the bottom of the procession is the Son, and at the top is the Father. Between them stretches the whole extent of the cosmos, and yet the Father and Son do not consider themselves to be apart, but to be immediately together and indivisible. The distance between them is merely their act of denominating their hospitality and identifying for us the opportunity for us to be with them.

God is light. His light runs on no fuel, but burns without ever burning up. But whatever comes near it, that is not also filled with that light, will combust. Because we are not filled with light, to us God is fire. His holiness is dangerous to us and keeps us at bay. We are prevented from coming too close to God. God does not release what he has for us all at once, but gives us only what will safely ready us for greater proximity with him, for the next instalment in that holiness. The glory, that is, the knowledge of God, is the extent to which his reputation has spread. God let himself become in some small way visible to Israel at Sinai, but this visibility – glory – was terrifying. Knowledge of God is frightening. That mountain was the image of himself God offered them, his holiness made visible. God cannot be grasped, controlled, or made an object. The image of the glory of God that Moses saw was well-diluted, and so it eventually gave way. But the Church is not given an image or a dilution, but the real thing, the ever-living God. The Spirit who is more unyielding than any created thing is also more fluid and pervading than any created thing. So, by baptism, the mountain has entered us, and we are now part of that mountain. That mountain is the Holy Spirit who fills and spreads the economy of God and moves through those who have been baptised.

God is generous. His holiness makes us holy. He is now at work perfecting and tuning us. The combined economy of heaven and earth is the place in which we are being refined. Anything that is not his will disappear on impact with his holiness. It will combust. The splendour emitted by rival kings and gods will prove flammable to his flame. As light is holiness slowed down, and fire is light slowed down, so water is fire, slowed down for us. By baptism we enter this fire, made more tractable and less destructive. We enter the furnace and catch fire. Everything impure of which we consist catches fire and is burned off, leaving what remains to glow and shine. We become burnished and light-bearing beings. We breath in this plasma and become part of it. The world is this process in which everything that can be, is shaken, and anything that can be, is disintegrated and dissolved back into the flux, to leave only what is indestructible. We are bumped around in the mill of this world, until all the impurities have been removed and we are unadulterated light. As long as we are not separated from every created thing this process must go on and will perhaps mean that nothing is left of us. But as we let go of every thing and prove to be separable from it, we will come through this purification and fire.

Not only is knowledge of God 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. The holiness of God is the epistemology proper to theology.

3. The physical theory
The Christian doctrine of the holiness of God rejects the epistemology of modernity. It states that the questions of knowledge asked by modernity cannot be answered as they are put. God is not another object, which we may summon and bring near. The West has domesticated the teaching of the holiness of God with the result is that fails to understand that God is agent of his own becoming known, that in all our knowledge he is free, and so master. He is sole agent of our knowledge of him, and our ignorance of him is itself God’s protective intervention on our behalf. Modern discussion of knowledge assumes that God we could be proximate enough to God to know him without ourselves being tangibly affected by this proximity. This is not the case. If God were here in the way modern epistemology demands we would be damaged. So he hides us away from him. It is by the kindness and gentleness of God to us that he is not the object our sense can command. Christian doctrine teaches that there are some things that it is not good for us to know or have access to. The tree of knowledge is good and evil, that is, good knowledge may not be good for us. So we do not have access to all areas, are not free to roam unsupervised or to play with all the powerful forces that make creation a reliable and good place for us.

But the West has not only neglected the teaching of the holiness of God. It has also exaggerated the teaching of the holiness of God. It has made it abstract and absolute, so this holiness is no longer for us. It has taught that God is too distant to enter the circle of the universe, that the universe is not God’s space for us, but pure neutral space. It understands space as the universal container, the platform of all that is physical. Space is more-than-physical, hyper-real, harder than the hardest of anything that it contains. The pneumatology of modernity is space on this absolute Cartesian and Newtonian definition. Space is the container that contains everything and is constituted by nothing that it contains. Space contains us, and it would contain God if he chose to share space with us. Newton decided that since God is infinite, he does not indwell the boundaried space he maintains for us. We are where God puts us, but he does not put himself with us. This belief declined into the derived belief that space keeps God out. And yet since it assumes that God cannot enter this space or encounter us in it, it is not neutral space, but antagonistic to God, even itself a rival god. In this sense then we can say that space is the physical theory of the West. What we understand as space, is the early modern concept of spirit, abstracted from the doctrine of the hospitality of God, and absolutised in this way against God. Space is the doctrine of the Spirit, turned and employed against the doctrine that God has made a place for us with him.

But we do not have to accept this modern pneumatology. We can return to a more theological pneumatology, by a more physical understanding of the holiness of God. The holiness of God is a force field. It is a shock wave, a broad front of high pressure, that engulfs us or pushes us back. Within this wave, God extends to us a greater and more hospitable space. Inside this field of force all life is made complete. But the arrival of this space will push away all that has not been readied for it. The space that streams from God pushes us aside and into safety.

We are contained within the world, and the world is the hospitality of God. As a result of our rebellion this hospitable world has become a remedial and custodial version of itself. We call this the earth, meaning the hospitality of God now delivered to us within the strict confines represented by death. For our sake the earth has become our container. This reduced world is a body. We belong to its metabolism. We are enclosed within Leviathan. We are not freed from the body of this beast until Christ takes us out of it into the much larger space of his body, and are made members of the greater creation, filled with his spirit. God is content to be known, and that is contained, by his own previous acts. They are not constricting on him. Each act amplifies the last, it does not take it away. This greater creation, made up of earth and heaven combined, is the economy of his acts for us.

God is more real, more physical, more bright, more burning. Holiness burns. What is alien to it will burn up as he comes near. The things that God gives, the Scriptures, this bread and wine, are thereafter too hot to touch. Yet their holiness is too pure to be picked up by our own perception, so we are not able even to feel this heat. We may never realise that we are burned. We may eat and drink judgment on ourselves and never know it. Regular light exposure to this holiness will toughen us. Holy things can be handled only those who been toughened by prolonged gentle exposure to this heat. They must be of the same substance. It cannot be handled by those with hands which have been handling any other incompatible thing. This holiness is a substance put in us, and in everything that he passes to us. That substance is ‘otherness’, the otherness of God from man. It regulates and make compatible all it touches. It never becomes tangible to us as such, it is never an object visible to us, because it is otherness as such, so precisely the condition of there being objects to us. God gives us this space with these limits. When we hit them we are bounced off as by an electric fence.

These holy things purify because they are caustic. They are stronger than we are, so they have to be delivered in very small and accurately metered dosages. If they do not come at the right dosage they cause loss of sensation, making us numb. In fact every lord exudes his own holiness, and we have exposed ourselves to all lords, with the result that we have suffered a loss of sensation. Christian doctrine aids our recovery from this desensitised state, in which we display the repetitive behaviour of the severely traumatised.

Holiness is the active thick exude of God. It is the place where he is not, but it is nonetheless his act. We may regard it as the promise and preparation for his presence to us. It is a tangible blanket and field of force. It does not allow anything within it to live from any other source but itself. It is a living thing. It enters wherever it will. It is the glory, the renown and the fame of God. We are interim provisional beings, sketches of beings, presently made out of such soft material that fades and decays rapidly when exposed to direct light. Light gently mediated will make us grow, but directly applied will damage us. The whole is damaging to the creature that has evolved and adapted itself only to the part. The holiness of God is physical.
So far I have said that a christological pneumatology teaches that there are many spirits, that we are their phenomena, and that the Holy Spirit is one spirit in a world composed of many spirits. The world is composed of the many diminished, stalled forms of the animal life. We are the functions of many shifting coalitions of these spirits. Our whole environment is composed of populations of these life-forms, that want to live in us and on us, that slowly use us as their resource. Those forms that are seriously out of kilter, that reduce the possibility of life with God, are demonic. These we can call ‘gods’. In this physical theory of the holiness of God we have said that God is a kind of burning, that we cannot be unimpaired by the impact of his proximity, and that it is God’s kindness that he gives us a distance. Space is something God provides for us: it is a benevolent buffer zone that allows the process of our transformation.

Literal theological statement
Modern Western theology does not believe that these theological statements can be meant physically and literally. It distinguishes the spiritual from the physical and the literal. What it perceives, it divides into the outward physical appearance, and the inward significant reality. It breaks open all whatever it receives, and extracts from it only what it wants. It spiritualises, portraying God in a parallel realm, above us, that makes no impact on our realm and leaves everything in it the same.
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. Our pneumatological account must be physical. We must first have a physical spiritual account. Then we can have a spiritual spiritual account, which we had better call a theological spiritual account. For the spiritual spiritual account we depend entirely on the physical spiritual account. What is physical is the hospitality given to us, consisting of many gifts of the Spirit, for our upbringing by the Spirit. We are not removed from our creatureliness, but rather all material things are created, employed and redeemed by the Spirit to serve the Spirit’s purpose for us.

The term ‘the physical theory’ is sometimes used in the context of the atonement. This means that for example God saves us from sin and death by very earthy or mechanical means. It is the Christian confession that God is jealous, angry, and that there is a cost to our salvation and so he pays a price. There is as it were a transaction and a physical transfer of substance, from Christ to us. He acts in a way that has been thought to be crudely physical, and this has often been rejected as inappropriate to the majesty of God. What once may have provided pictures that aid the uneducated and are appropriate for the piety of simple people came to be called anthropomorphism. From the seventeenth century on, some have regarded such expressions of the atonement, and accounts of the holiness of God such as I have given here, as grossly material, literal or mythological. It is our task to rehabilitate literal theological statement.

The critical rebellion against mythological, by which I mean, narrative, theology has understood that such theological statements they cannot be meant solidly, physically, literally. By this spiritualization of everything, whatever God is portrayed, it is in another realm, a spiritual realm. Everything in this creaturely realm of ours is left untouched and unredeemed. To re-state all Christian doctrine on a basis more appropriate to it requires that we show that these physical and material things are made to serve the proper purpose the Spirit gives them. The gospel changes everything, and so we have set it in a logic which allows change. We do not watch from outside. We are grasped and changed.
Immanent and transcendent
From let us say the seventeenth century the Western economy began to separate the spiritual from the material and physical. This action creates two economies, of material (physical, natural) and purposeful (meaningful, teleological). The transcendence of God was emphasised to such a degree that God has been pushed away to the top of the cosmos where it is held that he is no longer concerned with creation. He was held never to interrupt the working of a system that, perhaps as a reflection of his competence as Creator, was held to be self-regulating. If he did intervene, it was thought that he would be working against himself.

This is not yet an adequate account of God’s transcendence. To confess that God is transcendent does not mean he is not immanent, that he is spiritual does not mean that he is not also with us. We must keep alert to the profound dualising assumption that because God is more than us, transcendent, he is not in any strong or familiar sense with us. The docetic assumption of modern theology is that God is kept at bay by our physicality. The vital Christian confession that we do not worship the parts but the whole must not obscure the equally vital confession that God is the whole. He is the recapitulation all things. Of course God is more than the sum of all things. But we must give these two accounts, of Christ as the whole, and Christ as more than the whole. We must not reduce the former to the later. Too great and uncontrolled emphasis on the transcendence of God from his creation undoes the gospel. But this more physical pneumatology that I am advocating is not only good for talk about the Holy Spirit. It is also good for all the other spirits, including the many spirits of modern and secular world. I shall use this same literal and physical account to describe our own modern way of being.

4. Spirits and movement
Other spirits
We can use the words ‘spirit’ and ‘spiritual’ in any number of ways. These ways will be pagan. There is nothing wrong with being pagan, for it is nothing else than the animal existence. There are many species of animal life, exotic and wonderful. None of them is intending to be anything they are not. Or, conversely, inasmuch as they are all intending to be more than they are, to be driven by self-love, even to hubris, that is just what defines them as animal. They are without direction, unruled, wild. This goes for the human animal as much as any other.

Or we can see it another way. The pagan life is a sort of childhood. Of course it is a childhood full of terrors, and never grown out of, but it is as morally indifferent as the life of the birds and the bees. So we can say that other religions are games played by children. They are a pageant of children in costumes, pretending to be animals, and never wishing to be anything else than what they are. These animal forms are given more and more attenuated, self-referential and abstract form in what we could call the higher religions. The most earnest pagan disavowals of this, the serious and high-minded abjuration of all such pantomimes, say by Plotinus, the flight into absolute abstraction, that produces crystalline pyramids of hierarchy, the greatest pagan negative theology, so called pure monotheism, does not cease to be anything but paganism, the wonder and enjoyment of (creaturely) shapes and forms. Our present-day pagans are naturalists and aesthetes, and there is nothing wrong with that. Each represents a particular idiom of human hierarchy, a vocabulary by which we sort each other out and place each other in order. It is not the Christian life, but is nonetheless perfectly legitimate. Only when we pretend they are the whole rather than just the parts, we inflict an unaccountable power on one another, and then these forms of life are demonic. Then we must say ‘Here are your gods, modernity!’ Other spirits are the structures and authorities of creation – for example, those we call ‘forces of nature.’ Inasmuch as man has not yet learned how to name them and be their custodian, they are dislocated and liable to do us harm. Then we can pray to another spirit, who has set them in authority over us, to rescue us from their uncaring custody and bring them to account. We can pray to the Holy Spirit, for salvation. So a christological pneumatology understands that the Holy Spirit sets himself for and against a world composed of other spirits.

The God of Israel, the Holy Spirit, has rivals. There are other gods, there are other spirits. Each household produces its own fetor, its own dense air, a haze only noticed by whoever is new to it. There are many spirits and fogs, which constitute what the moderns understand as free and empty space. Space is constituted by the drift of competing hazes. These spirits are both envelopes, because they contain to some degree, and they are places or moods that they drift past and through us. The transition from one to another switches us out of one sort of behaviour and way of getting on with one another, and into another envelopes. We are tugged in different directions by these spirits, drawn along in the wake of some event before being left behind in the swell. These vapour trails consist our whole environment.

What I am calling the physical theory helps us to account for the spirits of our own age. It allows us to understand that we also produce our own vital force, or ‘spirit’. We cannot shake off this effluvium of ours. It is the body odour and atmosphere of the man who sets himself up in competition with other households. Just as a smoker has no idea how they smell, or how their own sense of smell is diminished, so we have no idea of how autonomous humanity generates its own cloying atmosphere, an aura that travels with us. We exude a spirit, by which distance ourselves one from another, by which we send one another away empty-handed.

We think our bodies are our own. We think we are properly clothed and impregnable in them. But our bodies have no lasting loyalty to us. We are unprotected and wander around as though there were no danger from other forces of contamination or dissolution. We are underdressed. Our clothes are not ours, for we have not paid the workers who produced them. We have got the debris of other people on us. Fragments of them are to be seen on us, though they should only be visible on them. We are covered in the substance of the people who produced the products that we employ and consume, but which also impoverished and consumed them in the course of their production. The bodily fabric that they have lost is now visible on us like eczema. We were given ample resources, and were told to pass them on, but instead we have consumed them. We are wearing their skins, which since they are not ours, do not cover us or protect us. God can see through us to those who we have taken our substance from. For God we are not only under-dressed and unprotected, but we are utterly under-embodied. Only when we repeatedly say that that we are beggars, dressed in rags that we have taken from others, that our bodies are see-through, that we can begin to hear what is being said to us. Then only we can pray to the Holy Spirit and ask him for proper bodies.

There is another spirit, another continuum of forces, that make me what I am. I am brought into existence by a host of servants. The body you see and the voice you hear as I read this to you have been provided by others. I am just their front man. Their labour provides the food that makes me what I am, the clothing and whole physical environment that sustains me. This shirt, trousers and jacket were made in China, Thailand, Poland. I have no idea whether their makers were properly reimbursed for them. This gathering of workers create, design, pack, insure, ship, check, distribute and sell all the food I consume and all the clothes I wear. Everything that I am is the result of their labour. But none of these individuals is really concerned that it is me that they are making. They make me, but involuntarily, none feels particularly engaged or in responsible for making me the person I could be. They do not see me as the goal of their work. This host of labourers work by necessity. They stand behind me. I am entirely their work. But they are not freely my servant. They themselves and not me, are the goal of their labour. They serve me only as a means to another end, as a way to make a living, as a means to emerging and increasing their own subjectivity. This many is my not-yet-holy Spirit, the host of unwilling and resentful servitors who support me and who have to disguise their subjectivity and channel their economic effort so that it serves me directly, and themselves only indirectly. We are not free. This dependence prevents us from finishing with one another and ever becoming able to let one another go. We cannot render one another being in freedom. But Christ stands behind me freely, he is not dependent on me, and so he alone is my constitutive maker, the one who makes me not by nature, but in freedom. Only he can free them from me and make them and me free for each other.

Motion and bodies
The Western intellectual tradition has taken one decision that has put it at a serious disadvantage. It has decided that first there are things, and then there is movement. First things exist, and then they move. It believes that the entity is prior and basic, movement is subsequent and accidental. It does not generally concede that we can put things the other way around, that we can see things as the products of movement and process. It is not that it cannot put things the other way around. It is not that the resources to redress this skewing metaphysic do not exist in the Western tradition. But they are seriously neglected in the basic constitution of Western knowledge, and in common sense, with the result that the tradition is out of kilter. It is not necessary that we keep it only ever the other way around. We can also say that motion comes before the thing. Movement comes first, and it brings bodies into being. These two options are equally productive and we should employ both, not give preference to the one over the other.

The Western tradition believes it can separate the essence from the merely contingent, and regards the thing as the essence and its motion, mind or intention may be added to it. We can also put things the other way around. We do have a class of people who regularly put motion first and things second. We call them ‘scientists’. Scientists are those who conceive of a single nature, to everything belongs, and of which individual organisms are short-lived phenomena that come and go. This nature envelops and accounts for everything, which is why we once also called them ‘naturalists’. There is nothing that may not be subjected to and comprehended by this category of ‘nature’. But they do not simply identify a body on one hand and a movement on the other – they also look for a third term. We need all sorts of intermediate entities of movement – operators, algorithms, catalysts, genes, memes, biotopes, hormones, pheromones, enzymes and spores. Until the eighteenth century all these existed as ‘animal spirits’.

We have said that a pneumatology is a continuum. The continuum contains a gradient, or a great chain of being. We can see this gradient in terms either of being (substance), or of power (force, motion) – the two modes. We could see it as a ladder at the top of which there is all being, at the bottom of which next to no being, and we attempt to climb up. It is also hierarchy of power. At the bottom we are powerless, at the top we exercise huge power of many others. Power is a matter of how many people you have beneath or behind you. Those people who stand behind you prepared to support you are your power. The paradox is that they are not only in your power, but that they are your power: you don’t have any power except them, so you have to use some of them to get others to comply.

A history of animation
The whole labour of the Western intellect is to separate the spiritual from the material. It strips the one another from the other, making a corpse on one hand and a living though disembodied spirit on the other. It identifies and separates the meaningful because timeless from the meaningless, contingent and material. We need to sketch the history of the increasing intangibility and spirituality of the Spirit, through the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

We are in ourselves drives and instincts, tics and impulses, passions, appetites and habits. This account, once set out by Aristotle, is now best represented by Daniel Dennett. It is not just that we move in leaps and bounds, but that these leaps and bounds are us. But this is not to deny that we are reasoning and self-controlling creatures. These hops and tics coalesce to form compounds that we call traits, habits and virtues, these coalesce to form what we call character, nature and personal identity. These hops and tics combine into meta-hops and meta-tics, which together to form great complexes of instincts and appetites, and those complex mechanisms for their mutual reconciliation that we call the skill of reasoning. These complexes that reconcile these tics we sometimes call ‘the human mind’, and sometimes call ‘Reason’. That we are complexes of instinctual behaviour does not mean that we are not reasonable creatures. We are. It is just that we are not more reasonable for insisting that that is all we are, or that reason must be preserved from all other forms of explanation, such as that in terms of passion. We need a cosmology of nested places, that are understood both a series of confinements, restrictions, and as a series of spirits, or moods, that animate us, and determine what we do, and how we relate to one another. The Western tradition has put the thing first, and then considered what change, motion or life may contingently determine it. The Christian tradition says that God has made us a hospitable place in which we may come to life, to each other and to him.

5. The political pneumatologist
Some of this retrieval must involve learning again from a great modern pneumatologist. To be a modern pneumatologist is to set out on a huge work to combine the best of past with the present. It is to learn everything from the classical period represented by Greek and Latin authors, and to learn from the flowering of Christianity, visible in medieval Europe, and then in the Renaissance and Reformation. Imagine we had a historian who wrote a popular introduction to this intellectual history. Well, we do have such a historian. I am now going to summarise quickly the findings of this intellectual historian – and to show that he is prophetically reminding Christian theologians of the extent of the Christian resources that they no longer seem to regard as important. A great laziness has allowed us to turn our backs on the whole tradition of secular and theological political thought in the mistaken belief that it does not concern us.

Every thinker aspires to be a Russian doll full of his predecessors. Hegel is a particularly big doll. He contains Luther, Spinoza, Locke, Pufendorff, Zinzendorf. Hegel contains the individualists, both the intellectualist head-people (Shaftesbury, Hume, Kant) and the emotionalist heart-people (the Moravians, Rousseau), and the institutionalists, like Locke, Pufendorff, Smith, Napoleon, the constitutional historians, and the sociologists and geopoliticians of the German psyche and people (Herder, Fichte, Schleiermacher and the Humbolts).

Hegel is looking for unity, and so for a theory of everything, a meta-science will comprehend all that is. That makes him a monist. But he is also a dualist. Neither term though, monism nor dualism (one-ism or two-ism), is adequate to express his breakthrough. Hegel is attempting to combine monism and dualism, identity and plurality. He is providing a pneumatology, an account that makes oneness and manyness co-equal and co-fundamental. He wants to do something about the pathological Western determination to make oneness prior and to see plurality as a problem, and to resolve it and get rid of it. Hegel wants to find a master narrative – which is to say that he is a modern. And he also wants to say that at bottom there is not one, but many stories – which means he is a postmodern. We are stuck with this oscillation between moderns (unitist-dualists) and postmoderns (pluralists), and this endless struggle between them to make either oneness or manyness exclusively prior. We are stuck until we employ the trinitarian conception of Christian theology that makes oneness and manyness equally basic.

Hegel diagnoses the whole Western tradition as dualist. It identifies dualities. It identifies the spirit and the body, the spirit and matter, the living word versus the dead letter, the externals versus the heart. It believes that nothing is what it seems, that appearances always deceive, but it believes that the tough interrogator, that God-like observer, the scientist, can make each thing give up its secrets. The modern world contrasts the head and the body, the beautiful universal versus the vulgar particular, and sets the ideational and noetic against the unpleasant world of bodies. It cannot see a thing without identifying part of it as dead, tearing that part away, and part of it as living. It cannot look at anything but it sees a husk that has to be violently broken into and the real living entity let out. It has a manic disposition to cut everything up and make two piles, of the dead and the living. Or rather it is nothing but this habit act of rending into two. We could call this pathologically repetitive behaviour the analytic psychosis. Every subject is trying to make all other subjects its objects. All life is a fight to the death between subjects, each has to subdue the other in order not to be subdued. The present is at war with the past. It does not understand the past as continuing resource, teacher and conversation-partner. It thinks it can only be itself by identifying some part as dead and inert, and yet also as a dead hand that must be actively shrugged off. We can only be ourselves by flight from previous generations and so must defy the command to honour our parents. We are tearing ourselves up and rending ourselves from ourselves, in a craze for self-harm.

The analytic tic that is the modern Western tradition means that we can no longer decide whether to divide or unite. What is being divided is us. We are being divided here. We manically identify some part of us that we decide is not us, and we disavow it, identify it as a piece of nature that we must free ourselves from, and we alienate it from ourselves. So I can only be me by striving not to be my parents, not like a member of my class, not just another member of my group, not like you. This self-construction is my lonely task, and it is a terrible law and harsh imperative. Be yourself! We can accept no limit or definition, we are in permanent flight from all otherness in case it makes demands on us. We can never be comfortable with ourselves or retrieve that spontaneity and happiness of earlier generations of mankind.

By reading the whole political philosophical tradition Hegel has found a way of reading that does not have this effect of our dichotomisation and alienation. Hegel says that theology is political, and that means public, and outer, theology. The gospel has made the two one, uniting and binding what has been wrongly separated, and overcome the pernicious dichotomy of inner and outer. The gospel also tells things apart, it distinguishes and separates what has falsely been mixed. The gospel not only binds but it looses, it is not only analytic, but it is also synthetic. It is the proper division and the proper reconciliation. Christian theology had once been a political philosophy, the West divided politics from theology, reduced theology to moralism, and psychology and ethics. And Christian theology has, quite unnecessarily, failed to resist this division and interiorisation. It intellectualises and sentimentalises, just where it should be proclaiming that the rule of God bring us into a more real and more communal life. Christianity had ceased to say anything constructive to the world. It has fallen prey to the rationalists on one hand, and on the other to the sentimentalists, pietists, romantics, conservatives, charismatics, revolutionary socialists, futurologists, new-agers and all the rest of the circus. Why did Christian theology cease to be political theology? Why did it cease to interact with the tradition of political philosophy?

Truth is one, and so we seek a single unifying theory. Every scientist, every philosopher, is either looking for such a theory, or saying that such a theory is not to be found. Each of them is necessarily searching for unity, or abjuring the idea of unity. Each is a Parmenidean, or a Heraclitean. Hegel was looking for such a theory of everything that would re-unite the divorced worlds of nature and human action and of public life and politics therefore . Because these two have been separated, man has been separated from his world, and this makes him miserable. Hegel is saying that we have an ongoing obligation to set out the unitary account. If we forget it, and remain in solely analytic mode, we enter a spiral of increasing alienation from one another and from the world. Hegel wants a dualist account, and he wants a unitary account. He wants both, and he is quite right to insist on both.

In the unitary account he has to come up with a single concept under which everything can be ordered and by which it can be explained. He comes up with ‘Motion’. Everything can be explained in terms of this one category. Motion underwrites everything, and everything can be expressed in terms of it. Everything most basically is motion. Of course the English do not translate Geist in this way. They choose an archaic term which gives everything that Hegel says a quaintly religious feel which distracts from what he is saying. We should translate Geist as that which animates. It is the Anima, and it animates everything. The Mover moves, the universal Drive drives, and generates cascades of subordinate drives. Hegel’s choice is a good one. Hegel represents the return of Aristotle to the too severe dualism of the (Kantian) Platonists who cut out all intermediate institutions. If we translate Hegel’s Geist as ‘spirit’ with a small ‘s’ it makes it easier to recover our intellectual history in which the term ‘spirit’ was employed, that is the conceptuality in which motion was once set co-fundamental with things. There is a contemporary body of thought that considers mind to be a form of complex, self-reflexive motion. It is called cognitive science.

The tradition reduces all action to an issue of nature. It naturalises it, so it is all about cause, not about purposes. But Hegel does not make it all a matter of unaided individual effort as Kant does. Our mind-set relates to the set of institutions we inhabit. We live in families, groups, guilds and other institutions that form our mind. Hegel was a liberal democrat, who looked forward to seeing a set of civil institutions that can support us in the course of our development. For Hegel the individual does not have to escape social groups or institutions, in order to become himself, but rather the institutions enable him and his peers to grow to maturity. Hegel wants all the analytic critical insights of Kant. By being disdainful of every unexamined assumption and thus of all tradition, critical reason had made great advances. This reason was a phenomenon of the Spirit, so the Spirit is not to be contrasted to intellect, or to research, or even to the cerebral or academic life. But reason is not an abstraction. It is a social activity. It is not just ‘pure’ reason, but the social practice of reasoning with one another, and so of public debate. It is perhaps more helpful if we talk less about reason, and more about reasoning together.

Hegel wants to combine the two basic insights of the Western tradition, that of the monists and that of the dualists. The world is basically one entity, yet it always presents itself in a series of dualities, as this, not that, or as that and that. But he is also intending to say something else. He is saying that it is also a plurality. He thinks that all previous metaphysics have tended to be opposed to plurality. They have filtered it out and made it invisible. They represent a kind of freeze-framing. They all intend to impose unity and in this they are all totalitarian. But trinitarianism is the logic that allows for plurality and which concedes that this is an open-universe. Though all earlier world-views have assumed that this is a closed universe, this is not the case. Hegel insists that it is an open world, in which there is a real future in the strongest possible sense, and that man is therefore free.

Hegel employs the doctrine of the Trinity. He is the trinitarian in modern thought. Hegel believed that Christian theology had trivialised the doctrine of the Holy Spirit, and given up proclaiming that God is all in all. It had ceased to proclaim that the only real enlightenment is provided by Christianity. Christianity is Enlightenment. He believed that the lack of Trinity was the reason why modern thought has stalled, and can only ever repeat partial aspects of the full coming into being of man. Hegel sets out an Adam theology not unrelated to that of Irenaeus. He indicates that there is an ascent of man, from lower and simpler, to higher more complex forms of life. We can trace this movement through changing religious and political forms. Human progress is not straightforward, but always a case of two steps forward and one back. Mankind takes many wrong turns, which we may call the turns of the Spirit or the masks of the Spirit, but these masks are not ultimately deceiving. They are the personas and roles that mankind learns, and having learned, he either grows out of and lays aside, or they become part of him. All these roles and phenomena represent the coming into being of the human mind and development, from simpler to larger and more complex world-views, or the rationality of man and civilisation.

Hegel tells us that the West has conceptualised action in terms of subject and object. Where there are only two terms, they can act only one at a time and against each other. Two terms cause a alternation between two poles. Either man is object, or God is object, either one of them is subject and must struggle to subdue the other, so we have a battle of two titans. Dualism manages to prevent any really new action from breaking through. On this basis, life has stalled. Without a third term, bringing a better account of law, property and material relations, we are stuck and these non-social social relations can only be repeated. The two cannot see how the world of the material relation between them, is both a genuinely a third term, and is also not something alien to them, but their own work. There is no conceptuality for the recognition of the coming-into-being and passing-away-again of law, material relations and world. Hegel believed that our schemas have to be thought and re-thought, for when they are not regularly re-animated by being re-thought they become nature, substance and fate. The task of philosophy consists in reactivating that action so thought does not harden into substance and cease to be act, and it is precisely this ‘philosophy’ that is the proper task of Christian theology. If we cannot think the totality of the continuation, our life is not thought. It is our job to re-think the absolute by attempting to un-think what is. Of course we are very likely to fail in this mission, but to fail, honourably, which is very much better than not making the attempt.

Hegel called the continuum of movement which prevents the closure of the economy of modernity Spirit. He did not call it God and man, or Father and Son. He called it Spirit. But Hegel’s doctrine of God and thus of the gospel was also deficient. He understood the doctrine of the Trinity showed a simple progression from Father to Son to Spirit. This represents a move from what we know to what we don’t know, a progression from Father to Son, from creation to reconciliation. By following the order of knowing and not the supposed order of being in its account of trinitarian belief and beginning with God the Creator, classical theology has effected to turn God into an object, no longer Lord, in the control of the knowledge of himself. It had made God a centre of absolute self-consciousness and so made an idol. This sort of temporal sequence in the immanent Trinity corresponds to the popular belief that the creator God is the universal God of humanity, whereas the so-called second and third persons of the Trinity are special Christian doctrines. Despite the disastrous decision in classical theology to follow what was supposed to be the order of being and speak first of all of God the Creator apart from Christ, but also leaving aside the presence of God in the Spirit in the worshipping community. The concept of creation has been largely ignored or given a secondary position to christology or soteriology.

But Hegel’s understanding of the Trinity was also deficient. He understood it simply as a progression from Father to Son to Spirit. This represents a progression from what we know to what we don’t know, a progression from Father to Son, from creation to reconciliation. By following the order of knowing, and not the supposed order of being, in its account of trinitarian belief, and so by beginning with God the Creator, rather than the Father and the Son, classical theology has decided in favour of an objectification of God. This sort of temporal sequence in the immanent Trinity corresponds to the popular belief that the creator God is the universal God of humanity, whereas the so-called second and third persons of the Trinity are peculiarly Christian doctrines. Classical theology followed what was supposed to be the order of being, and speak first of all of God the Creator apart from Christ. The concept of creation has been largely ignored or given a secondary position to christology or soteriology. The results have been disastrous, with salvation seen as escape from, and thus devaluing of, the world.

Hegel trinitarian logic ceases to be following of the Trinity, itself a following of the evangelical narrative, and become instead just a universal logic. Hegel understood the Father as the infinite and the Son the finite, and argued that infinity need to other itself in finitude. The Father turns into the Son and then returns to himself, as Spirit. Such modalism represents a collapse of persons and of all difference and distinction that the personhood of these persons guarantees. For Hegel Father and Son (absolute and particular) are poles that alternate and move, spiriting and objectifying the world, and as such are ‘Spirit’. Then when all particulars are illuminated and switched on and become individuals, the particularity of the Son (particular) stops alternating with the Father/Absolute. It is all individuals that finally succeed in lighting and sustaining the Son, the pole of particularity. Hegel – and all evolutionist Christologies – does not let the Spirit be determined by the Father and the Son. He does not let the Spirit serve and manifest and glorify the Son, and the Son the Father.

God does not need creation. He is not dependent on it, because it does not make him who he is. Because God is freely, and not dependently, who he is, he can allow us to come to be who we are to be. Real pneumatology understands that it is the Son, not we creatures, who by his obedience makes the Father, the Father. Hegel’s pneumatology is not disciplined by a Christology, and thus by a doctrine of God and of creation, Hegel cannot let the world be world, or God be God. We might say that he finally makes the unitary account more important than the dualist account, so monism prevails. In doing so he makes it impossible to show that God is different from the world, ruining the freedom of both. He allows the world to be absorbed into God so it is lost or wound up, or so God comes to himself through it. It is the odyssey of the Spirit, or the journey of God and or the journey of man, which comes to the same thing when the two finally become united and are one and the same. I will say in a minute what I mean by a pneumatology disciplined by Christology.

Soul and head
What we have said about the Spirit we can largely say also about several other concepts that have played crucial role in the Western tradition, the soul, the mind, the self and the heart. Since the eighteenth century the Christian tradition has misunderstood its own earlier teaching. It has contrasted body and heart, understanding them as opposites, so the heart is not the body. In earlier centuries the heart was understood as the whole man, not a small internal part of him, so the heart was precisely the body because the whole person. The same is true of the soul. The soul was earlier understood to be the whole man. The soul produces the body which we see and relate to. The body is the means by which the soul makes itself known to others. The soul is the motion and mover: the body is the phenomenon brought into being by it. The body is brought into being by the soul. The soul means the habitus, the total phenomenon, from which whatever phenomenon that today represents me (my body as it appears to you today) comes.
The soul or motion is first, the body second: the motion is prior, stability subsequent. It is extremely unfortunate that we no longer understand the soul as the total from which the body comes. It is the result of the seventeenth century hyper-Augustinianism, which produced Descartes, by which all stress was placed on interiority, so the external world and our embodiment in it, is no longer taken seriously.

6. The Spirit exalts the Son
The work of the Son is the work of the Spirit. All the action of the Son we can attribute to the Spirit. We can give all the credit of the Son to the Spirit. We can say that the Son is just the front man, and the Spirit is doing all the work. But the Spirit has established the Son as his figurehead. He is the work and the pride of the Spirit. The Spirit hides himself entirely behind him, and entirely gives himself to us and makes himself present to us in the person of this front man. There is no way we can go round the Son to get to the Spirit. The Spirit provides the assembly of God. He supports the council of the holy ones that is briefly visible in Isaiah 6 and the Book of revelation, the court of heaven in session that in Acts 7 becomes visible to Stephen when he makes the confession of Christ.

The Spirit initiates. He drives the crowd to plucks one of its members out of obscurity, sets him on their shoulders and makes him their leader. The crowd driven by the Spirit fills this candidate, lifts him up, raises him above us, and makes him the Son. The Spirit chooses one of us and enthrones him over us. The Spirit distinguishes the Son from us, in the first place by removing him from us. The Spirit selects and elects from many candidates. The leader is made by public acclamation. This adoptionist moment is an important part of our total Christology. The Spirit everywhere supports the Son’s confession of the Father. The Spirit is known only by this work, having no other hypostasis than those he brings into being. The Spirit is anonymous, preferring always to give the name of the Son. The work of the Spirit is the election of the people of God in the twofold form of the people of Israel and the Gentiles added to them.

The people of Israel and the Church are possessed, defined and driven by the Holy Spirit. As they work, and their work is received by the Father as the work of the Son, so shall they be. But far from lifting the Son up, the Son has to lift up the people of Israel. They are to be the Son-bearers. But at the moment Son has to bear them. The Son has to act their part, as well as his own. He has to be them. He has to act as the anonymous entirely self-effacing servant to them. He has to act as the Holy Spirit to them. He has to provide them with the action that they are later to provide him with, until they can do this and really become his partner in his action. His intention is that they learn to work with him as partners in a single labour.

The people of Israel bear and bring up the Son. They were wiser than they knew, for they did select, and lift up, anoint and enthrone the right man. They identified him, even though it was for exclusion and death that they picked out him. Nonetheless God picked him for our integration, and made him the criterion for all life, and for our united future. They thought that they were picking him out to remove him. But their action of raising him was the enthroning action of God, that their action to get rid of him was already completely absorbed into God’s action to make him stay. The people of Israel are the work of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit makes his work his own, holds it one with himself, so it is not something alien to him, but is he himself. The people of Israel are the work and act of the Holy Spirit, and thus not alien to him. He is capable of distinguishing himself from them, but it is also he who identifies them with himself, binding them to him – so they have finally no other identity than the he gives them. This is the identity that he and they negotiate together, the identity which pleases him. And he makes tell themselves apart from him, giving them this action, of self-distinction, of worshipping their God.

The Spirit implements the choice of the Son, and Father vindicates him in it. We are caught up by and brought into being by the action passed between the Son and the Spirit. We are in Christ because the Son has put his Spirit in us. The Spirit does not differentiate himself from them. The Holy Spirit is available for us only in the person of the apostle he sends: there is no way to the Holy Spirit except through the discipline that the apostle represents. The prophets (Scripture) and saints (tradition) form two choruses that stand opposite one another, and cheer us on from either side of the track which we now travel behind the Son. The track we run along is lined by prophets and saints who cheer us on and provide warning and advice.

The Holy Spirit creates plurality
The Holy Spirit provides plurality. He distinguishes one thing from another. He distinguished Christ from us by taking him away from us. The Holy Spirit has publicly distinguished Jesus from us by raising him from the dead. The actual particular body of Jesus – now present in heaven – is the act of the Spirit. The Spirit makes the Son that particular one from Nazareth. The Spirit makes him different from us, and identifiable apart from us, and so identifiable also for us. He must have one body that is his own, apart from the totus Christus. If Christ does not have one single identifiable body that is his own, and is not us, then he has not been raised from the dead, has not been distinguished from us and vindicated. Christ must be many – and also one, that One who is also beyond and more than the many.

He establishes and safeguards the particularity of each thing so that it cannot be absorbed and lost. The Holy Spirit makes the congregation, and makes the congregation play his role. He animates many witnesses and a vocal people. The Old Testament is first the testament of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit creates the crowd, the host of supporters and assistants. Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them. His superior numbers mean that he will not faced down when he confronts his enemy at the gate. The crowd is the hosts of the God and the Fear of the God of Israel that scatters his enemies in panic. The Fear of the Lord will protect the land. The forces of the Spirit are greater than the forces of the Gentile powers, but they are not visible to them, so the ignorance of the Gentiles leaves them exposed, and this will result in their destruction. The narrative of entering and taking possession of land we see in the book of Joshua is replayed for real in the Book of Acts. The Spirit and host of the Lord goes in to take what has been promised to him. We are a persona of the Holy Spirit when we pray this speech of the Spirit to Christ. The land promised is the whole world of the Gentiles.

The Spirit blows into us. He lifts and animates us. He breathes and speaks the words of the Son into us. Some of these words re-appear audibly from within us to so we can identify, encourage and instruct others. He invests us with reason, and the means rightly to recognise and value one another. The Spirit enacts our part for us ahead of us until we are able to perform it for ourselves. By his breath we are animated to speak well and blow breath into others. We lift not our own hearts to the Lord. The sursum corda is not an injunction, but first his act of raising us, and then the confirmation of that act that surges through us and makes us able to say what it is he has done. The Lord lifts us up to himself, and powers us to lift one another up, and make one another present to the Lord. This act of ours is the outworking of the act of the Spirit. He makes us a crowd. This is the crowd’s act by which our hearts are lifted. The athlete is filled with the power of the crowd. The crowd wills him on and lifts him up, their whoops and roars drive him down the track. We can attribute everything to the crowd that cheers the athlete on. In Gethsemane the Son baulked at going into the battle. His ministering servants said ‘You will do it’, the Son said ‘I do not want to’. They replied ‘Do it anyway’, and he did. The first son first said ‘No’, but went after all. Which of the two did what his father wanted? The Son is the wrestler, the angels his seconds and trainers who minister to him at the ringside. The company of the Spirit tended the prone figure of the Son, ‘angels came ministering to him’, picking him up, bathing and anointing him.

7. The Spirit exalts the Son
The Father is a king, the Son is his commander, the Spirit is their assembly. Their assembly is gathered by them and constitutes the forces that the king gives to his commander. The crowd throngs around the Father and the Son and escorts the Son out from the Father into the world. The Father sends to detachments on active duty to where the Son is as reinforcements. This force is infinitely divisible, yet remains one single indivisible body. It cannot be divided by anyone but the Father and the Son. This force or body escorts their commander. The Father gives the Son the Spirit, but does not have less of the Spirit as a result. This company is brought back to the king by his commander. The Holy Spirit is one Spirit (1 Corinthians) and the Holy Spirit is the many congregations and armies of the Lord of hosts. They come to him for decisions. They appeal to him to get him to give his attention to this or that needy situation. They are impressed by his rulings that are both obviously and yet always creative, new and surprising.

The Father stands at one end of the arena, the Son at the other. The Father is one of an arena, the Son the other, and the arena is just the space generated by their conversation together. The Spirit comprises the whole space of that arena. The Father is at one end of the cosmos and the Son at the other. The Holy Spirit can be with the Father and yet be sent to the Son, and the Son can send the Holy Spirit without thereby giving up the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is an army that is infinitely divisible. The Father can send troops to his general and the general can send troops back home, without leaving himself without troops. The Holy Spirit is the escort and detachment that accompanies the Son, or that the Son sends to accompany us. He is our horse guards and cavalry.

The Spirit initiates. He makes the assembly which assembly pleads, and the Son and Father respond to its plea. The Son and the Father follow the Spirit and the assembly gathered by the Spirit. The Holy Spirit holds the Son to the Father and is the bond of their love. To put this another way, the Spirit holds the ring. His assembly makes the ring and the arena in which the Son and the Father meet. For the sake of illustration, we could say that the Father and the Son are two wrestlers forced to face each other because the crowd does not permit them to leave until they have satisfactorily tried their strength. They are two chieftains forced to negotiate a settlement because the elders do not allow them to leave until they have done so. The fact that the Father and Son are not reluctant, does not detract from my point that the Holy Spirit is the willing mediator and honest broker who provides the hospitality which makes their meeting possible. The Father sits at one end of the table and the Son at the other, while along each side sits the whole company of heaven. This table stretches from heaven to earth. While the company may consider that the Son and the Father are maximally far apart, yet the Father and Son themselves consider themselves to be together. The whole long extent of creation does not separate them, for it is nothing other than their own work.

The beginning and the end
In contradiction to Hegel we must say that the Spirit is not the union of the Father and the Son. The Father is not succeeded by the Son, or rolled up into the Son, and the Father and the Son are not rolled up in the Spirit. The Spirit is distinct from the Father and Son, in order that he may also make the two of them distinct from each other. The Father is the initiator and the finisher. It is the Father, not the Spirit, who accepts and receives what the Spirit has done, and only when he accepts it is it definitive. If the Father is not satisfied he will make the Holy Spirit do it again. The Spirit makes everything ready, but it is the Father who decides whether or not it is finally ready. Nothing is what it is until it has been confirmed by the Father, who is its proper arbiter and audience. The Father receives the act of the Son. We also have to receive and give thanks for the act of the Son, and to receive it as the act of the Father, and we do that in the Holy Spirit. The Spirit receives, recognises and gives thanks for the act of the Son, and in him the company of heaven do this, and we are caught up this act of theirs. We have no existence outside this being caught up, assembled, being received and receiving, being recognised and ourselves recognising the Son, and being received with thanksgiving.

Recent theology has tried to make Christology without pneumatology. Modern theology has not adequately shown that talk about Christ is spoken by the Spirit through the community he gathers, and that we must begin with the worship and the Church (understood as the act of God). They have not shown that, because all theology is pneumatological, it must be liturgical and ecclesiological. They have begun instead with the Christology that leaves doctrine of Christ as information, with little idea how we came by it, and so as matter for the entertainment of the disembodied intellect. Recent theologies have struggled to let pneumatology and Christology be really different and complementary. They have tried to make the same, so the pneumatology has to have the two-natures conceptuality of Christology. The lack of pneumatology understood as liturgy and community is felt and the gap filled by the import all sorts of extrinsic hermeneutics and theoreties of language. They allow Christology to decay, under the pressure of the continuous movement of language, into the language of that small self-selecting, self-serving group of people we know as religious people.

The Holy Spirit is the obedient servant of the Son, and so also of the Father. The Spirit exalts the Son and empowers him to exalt the Father. They exalt the Father, and the Father exalts them. They throw themselves down before him – and he raises them up. By raising them up the Father does not indicate that their worship of him is inappropriate, but rather that it is appropriate and he acknowledges it. Each person, Son and Spirit, abases and subordinates himself; a subordinationist theology expresses this. Each person is raised by the Father, and a theology of co-equality with the Father expresses this. The action and existence that goes out from Son and Spirit is subordinate. The action that returns to the Father receiving makes them of one being (homoousion) with the Father. The Father receives the Son and Spirit as his own. They come as the Father’s subordinates and are received as the Father’s equal.

The usual schema – the Father originates, the Son executes, the Spirit perfects – is adequate only when it is complemented by the reverse movement: the Spirit picks up, the Son brings, the Father receives. So in summary we have:
The Father gives the Son the Spirit
The Son confesses the Father (withholding that confession from every other lord)
The Son confesses us before the Father
The Father confesses the Son as his Son
The Father receives us who are brought to him by the Son.
The Spirit is the combination and unity of all powers. He is the whole. But he is also above the whole. It is only this latter lesson of the utter transcendence that modern theology knows. The other lesson, that the Son of God is the whole, has been neglected. What is physical is the gift and work given to us for our upbringing by the spiritual Spirit. The purpose of pneumatology is to keep these two sides of the equation together, each controlled by the other. It must provide both a physical spiritual account and a spiritual spiritual account. Only when the Spirit is shown to be both physical and spiritual is this a properly theological account.
This will prevent us putting an account of nature first, and then trying to control it with theological discourse. There is no nature: there is only the hospitality of God. All pneumatology is panentheistic: nothing within pneumatology can prevent this. Only Christology can make pneumatology serve the confession of Christ. Christology disciplines pneumatology, and pneumatology serves Christology. We should not try to make pneumatology do what only Christology can do, to distinguish between Creator and creature. Christ names and calls the Spirit for us. Christ is the single proper exponent of pneumatology. Pneumatology is the work of Christ. It is Christ who sends the Spirit – his Spirit – to us, so we no longer live in a separate parallel universe, but in one universe with him, his universe. It is this that means that God is determinative for us, so that Christ is not merely information about a state of affairs elsewhere. Christology is the work of the Spirit. The Spirit raised Christ from the dead, distinguished him from us, and so distinguished God from the world and bore him to the Father who glorified the Spirit by receiving the Son and all his acts from him. Christology is the safeguard of pneumatology, and the Spirit is the motor of Christology.