Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Holy Spirit in the World Today, Part 1

I am a few weeks late to be posting on the Holy Spirit and the World Today conference that took place towards the end of May, but with the semester coming to a close and graduation weeks away I could not find the time to listen to the papers being presented. However, now that all final papers are turned in, thesis accepted and commencement over, I have finally found the time to listen and comment on some of the lectures.

I started listening with what sounded like a preparatory paper given by David Ford on "Keys Issues in Pneumatology." The title alone led me to believe that this was one of the first papers given in order to create a common foundation for all those who came to listen. However, as I listened to the paper, I found this not to be true. Ford often commented on papers given by Moltmann and Williams; so listener beware: this is not the first paper given. (For the schedule see here.) Besides giving four ways in which pneumatology (and theology for that matter) should be done, Ford says that the twentieth-century has not been the greatest for pneumatology and that Spirit has often been relegated to subcategories of others theological fields. He cites creation ("the Spirit hovering over...") and the Trinity ("the Spirit being part of the Godhead") as examples where the Spirit is spoken of but not treated independently outside of those discussions. I can say of my own experience that this is true. A very good friend of mine once commented that Spirit is often treated as something read about, not lived with and this seems to be just what Ford was getting at.

The guiding principles for the four ways of theological enterprise for Ford were: wise and creative. He does not go on to define wise and creative, per se. However as one listens on, Ford shows how exactly wise and creative theology is done. 1) Retrieval of the past; 2) Engagement with Mind, Church and World; 3) Thinking; and 4) Communicating. Number 2) is where I believe Ford hits his stride. Noting that theology is not simply a mind exercise but is inherently liturgical. In the same way we think theologically we are thinking in terms of the one we worship and to whom we pray. Secondly, he says that for theology to be genuine there must be commitment to the Church. Now, it may be easy to take this several different ways, but taking this and what he said earlier about the connection between liturgy and theology, one sees that he means our theological endeavors (be they monographs or seminars) should be for the sake of the community of faith. Going along with Number 2), Ford says this:
"Theology that is not involved in worship and in prayer is not going to be Christian."

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