Monday, February 02, 2004

Article VII. Pneumatologically Speaking

Article VII. Pneumatologically Speaking

Could it be that part of our confusion regarding the hidden/revealed church stems from a lack of pneumatological reflection on this topic? The sacraments and the Word are in an important sense centered Christologically within the Lutheran tradition, but the word & sacraments are "in the Spirit" as well. We certainly can & must speak of Christ's "real presence" in the meal, and the presence of the Word in the preached word. This is the testament and revelation by which the church is established, but from a pneumatological perspective, we are called also to speak of the "institutions" and "charismata" of the church as well (categories traditionally lifted up by Catholic and Pentecostal theology respectivelY). In the Spirit, the ecclesiology of the church matters for the Spirit "institutes" the church in and through the Word. In the Spirit, the fruits made manifest by the Spirit matter as well, and these charismata have a life in the church, especially in their establishing ecstatic fellowship and participation.

In other words, we might say (correct my formulation if it is wrong-headed) the Spirit is the life of the church spoken through the Word by the Father.

So, rather than speaking of a hidden/revealed church, might we speak of the life of the church in the Spirit, not per revelation, but per the Trinitarian love and relationship between the Son and the Spirit- church not as hidden/revealed but rather as "not poured out/poured out"? For the institutions and charismata of the church are the outpourings of the Spirit that are spoken into the community through the right administration of the sacraments and proclamation. And given the reciprocal relationship of the Son and the Spirit, the Spirit too in the institutions and charismata it pours out also participates in right administration and true proclamation.


An additional thought:

It seems to me that pneumatological reflections would also help us make the distinction between doctrine and proclamation more clear- in a similar way we would need to reflect on the epiclesis in the meal, the invoking of the Spirit at baptism, the laying on of hands at ordination, the perichoretic union as sacramentally manifested in marriage and monastic rites, unction before death. This pneumatological dimension would effect a rapprochement in the the sacramental views of Lutherans and Catholics, for the Lutherans have self-limited their sacramental breadth for the sake of a Christology that is not informed by the breadth of "catholic" (from both east and west) thought on the work of the Spirit in the sacramental life of the church. Boy, don't I sound Catholic?

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