The doctrine of the Spirit: a comparative study on the views of Jürgen Moltmann, Michael Welker and a Pentecostal perspective
Consiglio, Danilo Rocco
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The Holy Spirit is God. The Holy Spirit acts in the present as He has acted in the past. Moreover, from the beginning his action was clear. The divine action has never failed and will continue to be present. It acts in the world and in people. He works through believers, transforming them in depth and making them able to communicate with their Creator. It also acts through them in order to make the Lord known to those who are open to receiving Him. The Spirit also works through gifts that are meant to build up the church and keep it united in his strength. The action of the Spirit has never been lacking in any respects. Already from the time of creation, God wanted to be present and wanted to act for his creation. God has tried in every way to bring us to reunite with his creature to remedy the sin of man and the breaking of communion that has been created. God's purpose was to have fellowship with his creatures, and in order to do this even after the split that occurred in Eden, God's wonderful plan foresaw the Son of God's arrival for anyone to be reconciled with the Father. These concepts, as well as others that have not been listed, are present in the ideas and writings of the theologians considered in this treatise. These are the fundamental points that all three theologians have faced in a more or less extensive way. There is no discrepancy between them on the basic concepts, therefore, it is possible to welcome a theology of the Spirit that ultimately sees everyone in agreement. However, the differences are there if you go a little bit more into detail. These differences can already be seen from the name they give to their theology, where it is possible to pass from integral theology to the one of the renewal or that is understood as realistic. From a careful analysis, it would seem that all three theologians are at odds with each other because their theologies have different names. In fact, three theologies on the same subject that would seem to stand out could make it clear that there is no unity, there is no convergence or possibility of communication between them. However, as mentioned earlier, if you do a very superficial analysis you would arrive at this wrong conclusion. The reality is determined by the fact that all three face the same topics, having different perspectives. They have a different vision because they capture aspects that the other does not. They try to go deep into the various topics by following what they believe is consistent with their perspective. However, the gift of languages has been the exceptional topic that has mostly put them in disagreement regarding the practice of the church. Considering their works globally, it is possible to check how their theology of the Spirit is expressed, in the researcher’s opinion, in a perspective of what the Spirit has done throughout history, from creation to the present day. Each of them took the highlights of the work of the Spirit and expressed them according to their vision and following their idea of the Spirit. Each of them has faced every subject in which the Spirit acted, with a unique perspective. But unique does not mean 'only'. Reformed theologians have approached their theology of the Spirit in a very precise and careful manner with similar views in some cases, and with different readings in others. In the case of the work of the Holy Spirit today, there is not a denial of his action through the gifts, rather there is a deepening of the argument that tries to explain what happened at Pentecost occurred in relation to the Pentecostal Movement of the last century. A view not from the first actors, nor from participants of the experience, but from theologians who have treated the phenomenon theologically, pointing out their ideas according to their perspectives. Furthermore, Welker deepens the Pentecost event by pointing out some misinterpreted scriptures and giving more attention to the church practice of these gifts than to their phenomenology. Moltmann underlines the eschatological aspect of the work of the Spirit in the believer’s beginning the experience that is made through the Spirit today. Both are very careful in evaluating the action of the Spirit in the world and drawing useful analyses. Williams obviously tends to express the work of the Spirit in a more clear and enlarged way regarding the gifts because these characteristics are the basis of the experience of the Pentecostal Movement through the baptism of the Holy Spirit. He is trying to explain the phenomenon of Pentecost by constructing a theology that is a perspective of the theology of the new movement that has spread in a short time all over the world. These are not the only perspectives to be followed. The researcher believes that everyone has expressed his ideas following his own line, their own vision. Is one of these perspectives more correct than the others? Is the truth in some of these perspectives? It is possible to correctly say that all three speak of the Truth which is Christ, of the action of the Spirit in the believers and in the world in a correct manner and would tend to complete what the others say. In fact, the Word of God is like a crystal, which once you look at it from a certain angle it assumes a colour that would change if you look from another. Changing the angle, the view changes and results in a different colour. One thing remains unchanged: the crystal. This phenomenon is known as pleocrosimos, and I believe the Word of God has a similar effect. The Word is unchanged, it's the same over time, but based on how you look at it you can show off aspects that you could not see from other angles. Obviously we refer to an evaluation that does not deny the Word as the only truth and that does not contradict it. What these theologians have done is to express three different points of observation to express what the action of the Spirit is in the world and in people. From this point of view I believe there is a lot of continuity among their theologies. They are in line with the biblical teachings and no one denies the fundamentals of Scripture or how the Spirit acted. If there are points of discontinuity, I think they are due to the fact that everyone can have a different view from the other on certain topics. Everyone has had the intent to deepen one aspect and neglect another, or even more, to consider one topic more than another one. I believe this discontinuity depends on the diversity of the thinking theologian, who reflects on the Word and how the Spirit acted. The theologian who supports his belief, evaluates the action of the Spirit by considering certain points that others may also overlook. The same thing happens in the community life that people have within the churches. One believer is different from the other, unique as a person, and likewise united with others in the action of the Spirit. There is a diversity that enriches the church which in turn does not make them. All three theologians have faced the diversity of each believer in relation to the others united in the communion of the Spirit. The Spirit acts in diversity leading into unity. This unity is the body of Christ that is one but still composed of different parts each one different from the other. I believe that this situation is possible also with these theologies. Comparing them is an enrichment, it is a growth that benefits everyone. These are aspects that make the action of the Spirit’s vision more complete because as noticed before, different people have different ideas. If we had done the same research with other theologians, we would have found other points of reflection that would have completed the perspective of the action of the Spirit even more. What does all this bring to us? It leads us to a single solution: the Spirit acts like the wind, you hear the noise but you do not know where He comes from and where He goes. In the same way, everyone can feel the wind acting and trying to perceive what he can, but still not totally understanding Him because the Spirit has his own way of moving. He testifies of Christ and premising that, He works for Him so that one day, He’ll come back again.
- Theology