Pneumatologyand the Church
Pneumatologyand the Orthodox Church
Ingeneral, pneumatology is the study of the spiritual connectionbetween God and human beings. It involves the study of phenomena,spiritual beings and the works of the Holy Spirit. In Christianity,pneumatology focuses on the Holy Spirit and teachings that includespirit-baptism, prophet’s inspiration, spiritual gifts, new birth,sanctification and the holy trinity. Many churches have emerged sincethe first church was started at Antioch. Each church with its beliefsand missions different from the other churches. Also, they have adifferent theological understanding of God the Father, the Son andthe Holy Spirit. Most churches have a common understanding of God theFather and the Son Jesus Christ, but they differ in theircomprehension of the Holy Spirit. This paper will focus on HolySpirit and Trinity in general and then narrow the focus to theOrthodox Church beliefs on the Holy Spirit1.Then the essay will look at the mission of the spirit in this chosenchurch.
HolyTrinity is an important aspect of the Orthodox Church and its presentin their daily activities including prayers where they evoke the HolyTrinity instead of Jesus or God. In general, the Orthodox Churchbelieves in the entities in Trinity as one and of the same essenceand not three entities or Gods. In the Orthodox Church, the Father,the Son, and the Holy Spirit are of the same essence while and at thesame time, they are three different persons. In Greek translation,the word used to describe essence is called ousia while the term usedto describe the person is called hypostasis referring to the variouspersons in the Trinity. The church teachings focus on the HolyTrinity, which is in the center of their beliefs and traditions whichdiffer from other churches. The Orthodox Church has different viewson the Holy Spirit and Trinity from other churches like the Lutheran,Catholic, and Anglican Church. The Orthodox Church emphasizes onCommunion and God the Father, the Son Jesus Christ and the HolySpirit2.We cannot talk of the Holy Spirit without including the Holy Trinity.
Accordingto a publication by an Orthodox church Bishop called Kallistos Ware,he gives an analogy of three burning torches. He considers threeseparate torches one lit and the other two lit by the first torch.The torches burn with the same flame referring to the three entitiesin Trinity having the same essence, but the flames have differentproperties which explain the fact that human beings experience theholy spirit as separate from God the Father and the Son. It is,therefore, evident that the Orthodox Church beliefs in the HolySpirit are that, it is inseparable from the Holy Trinity andacknowledging the Holy Trinity in prayer is the same as recognizingthe Holy Spirit. This means that the three entities work in unison asone complete spiritual being. In the book of Genesis 1, 26, God said:“Let Us make man in our image and likeness.” This is proof fromthe scriptures that the three entities in the Holy Trinity startedworking together long before the world was created3.
InOrthodox Church theology, they teach that the Holy Spirit is one ofthe three persons that make the Trinity and that He has hisproperties different from the other two. It goes ahead to claim thatwe have a personal connection with the spirit which is equal andcoeternal with the two entities. Although the teachings furthersuggest that the Holy Spirit comes after the Father, the Spirit hasequal spiritual power with the Father and the Son. According to thetraditions of the Orthodox Church, the purpose of the Christian lifeis to be the house that shelters the spirit and to live in the Spiritof God. Our hearts are full of love due to the Holy Spirit, whichreplenishes the love for the Lord. In the Orthodox Church, believersconfess the Spirit as the Lord who gives life. The Bible state “Wheretwo or three are gathered together in my Name, there I am in themidst of them” (Mathew 18, 20). The scripture proves that Christ iswith the Church and therefore, salvation can be received from thechurch.
Carefulanalysis of the three entities in Holy Trinity, we get a differentsense of understanding that the Father is above us, the Son is Godwith us, and the Holy Spirit resides in our body. Orthodoxy refers toGod the Father as the source and that the Holy Spirit follows afterHim. It does not explain the works of the spirit rather it providesan understanding of the spiritual relations that exist between thethree entities. The gospel of John provides insight into the beliefsand traditions of the Orthodox Church in describing theirunderstanding of the Father being the source and the spirit followingafter Him. According to (John 15, 26), “when the Comforter hascome, whom I will send to you from the Father, He will bear witnessto Me.” John the Baptist prepared the way for the Messiah who isGod the Son, and he said that it was through the Son that we wouldreceive salvation. As Christians, we believe in the resurrection ofGod the Son. Salvation according to the Orthodox Church is obtainedin the church and is symbolized by taking the sacraments whichrepresent the body of God the Son. The spirit was given to the churchas a gift to be the soul of the church. Therefore, as Christians,after receiving salvation, we go to church to receive spiritualnourishment4.
TheHoly Spirit plays a significant role in the Orthodox Church. Tounderstand the scriptures well, one has to be filled with the HolySpirit so that he can interpret the Lords message to his people. Inevery church, its members have different abilities. Not everyone canbe a preacher because it requires people who are filled with the HolySpirit so that the Lord can open their mind to the truth that isspoken in the Bible. Mathew 18, 20 talks about the disciples whoreceived the Holy Spirit during Pentecost. The disciples weregathered together for the continuation of the gospel. Afterward, thefirst church started and born again Christians received the HolySpirit after they got baptized. Therefore, the spirit is at thecenter of the traditions of the church. The advantages of receivingthe Holy Spirit are many which include being filled with joy andpeace.
Inconclusion, the Holy Spirit is an essential part of a Christian life.The spirit is the closest to Christians. The Bible talks of our sinsdriving the Lord away from us, therefore, the Holy Spirit was sent tokeep us company and on the right path of salvation. Although theOrthodox Church does not separate the Holy Trinity, it acknowledgesthe importance of the Holy Spirit in our daily lives as we strive tolead a Christian life.
Churches, World Council of. About us. 2016. http://www.oikoumene.org/en (accessed March 14, 2017).
Roof, Wade Clark, and Jurgensmeyer. The World Council of Churches”,. California: SAGE publication inc, 2012.
Vassiliadis, Petros. "An Orthodox Assessment of the New Mission Statement." International, 2013: 174 – 178.
Welker, Michael, and Editor. The Spirit in Creation and New Creation Science and Theology in Western and Orthox Realms. New York: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publiching Co., 2012.
1 Churches, World Council of. About us. 2016. http://www.oikoumene.org/en (accessed March 14, 2017)
2 Roof, Wade Clark, and Jurgensmeyer. The World Council of Churches”,. California: SAGE publication inc, 2012
3 Vassiliadis, Petros. "An Orthodox Assessment of the New Mission Statement." International, 2013: 174 – 178.
4 Welker, Michael, and Editor. The Spirit in Creation and New Creation Science and Theology in Western and Orthox Realms. New York: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publiching Co., 2012.