Gregory of Nazianzus, and Hendrikus Berkhof on Pneumatology
( ‘Theological Orations’ & ’Spirit and Participation' )
- All Quotation marks refer to the relative text
Saint Gregory’s Homily highlights that the Holy Spirit is indeed the third person of the Holy Trinity, in perfect unity with the Father and Son as One Godhead. There is no deficiency, but rather mutual relation between the Spirit, and the Father and Son - in other words perfect and undivided ‘relations one to another’, within the Triune God. The Spirit is consubstantial - as He is God and (referring to the Persons of the Holy Trinity) ‘springs from the same Source.’ From the Spirit ‘comes our new birth’ leading to new creation and a full knowledge of God. St Gregory realises that there appears to be a lack of Scriptural reference to pneumatology, however he clarifies that the manifestation of the Holy and Life-Giving Spirit is indeed present within the Gospels, and throughout the life of Christ on earth. ‘He is baptised; the Spirit bears witness. He is tempted; the Spirit leads Him up. He works miracles; the Spirit accompanies Him..’ For Gregory, the Spirit has appeared to us in fullness and clarity, through the incarnation of the Logos (the Saviour and second person of the Holy Trinity). ‘Now the Spirit dwells among us, and supplies us with a clearer demonstration of Himself (Oratio 31.26)
Hendrikus Berkhof asks three central questions regarding pneumatology, the first being :
- From what perspective do we gain access to the essence of the Spirit?
Liberal protestantism begins from the common content, and structure of a person’s spiritual life, however both the Orthodox and R.Catholic Churches will argue that the very essence of the Holy Spirit works through the Church, from generation to generation - and this is exactly what Church tradition is. Tradition is the depositing of the Holy Spirit through time, passed down through the Bishops by Apostolic succession. Saint Gregory of Nazianzus would argue that the Holy Spirit is best known and is seen in fullness within the Church, the body of Christ, as opposed to beginning our understanding of the Holy Spirit through our own personal thought and reflection ( even though the Holy Spirit does indeed dwell in us all (1 Cor 3:16), but especially when we are in unity, and communion with one another within the Church). It is within the Eucharistic community that we truly experience and witness the Holy Spirit acting, as the παράκλητος (paraclete) - our Comforter.