Sunday, 1 May 2016
Do God and Christ love the Holy Spirit?
Perhaps the greatest issue for Social Trinitarians with respect to the Holy Spirit is "his" personhood. Generally, in defence of this personhood, they point to passages that do indeed seem to imply a certain someone, capable of emotion and saying things, for example. These occasional references to which these Trinitarians point are - initially - suggestive of personhood, for sure. To my mind, however, there are two significant "buts", and I think Pastor Finnegan touches on the first:
1. The rarity of the suggestive occurrences relative to the more impersonal and dissuasive ones.
2. The absence of love evidenced between the Father or Son and the (or their) Spirit.
It is on this second point that I have not yet found significant concern within the Trinitarian literature - but perhaps with good reason. Social Trinitarians in particular should have an issue here. They claim that these three literal persons are bound together in a profound and infinite love that permits a oneness appropriate to singular pronouns. But there is a problem here, well and truly shoved under the carpet – where is the love of the Father or of the Son for his (or their) Spirit in the Bible?
Since the initial discussion generated by this post on the trinities facebook page, it has been argued defensively, and perhaps predictably, that the Spirit must be a distinct person because of the personal language with which this Spirit is sometimes associated. There are assumptions underlying this sort of approach that I think can be outlined as follows:
· The opposing team (me) believes that the Holy Spirit is an impersonal force (or just an impersonal force)
· Personal language of the Holy Spirit obliterates such crazy ideas.
I remain open. I honestly don't mind if the Holy Spirit has full personhood in the same sense as the Father and the Son. I think that would be pretty cool and I find the social Trinitarian rhetoric both captivating and inspiring. If, however, there is a reason why there is no Biblical evidence for HS personhood in the inter-divine-persons relations, then the empowering presence of the highly personal God (and Son) at work in people's lives could still be personal. For me, that would remain inspiring and captivating.
Thus for Social Trinitarians, this should amount to a serious problem. They claim that Trinity is a most beautiful and delicate "dance" of humble love and collaboration. But it is not enough to point to a few potential occurrences of Holy Spirit personhood to justify the love dance. In order to fill a seemingly gaping hole in Social Trinitarian theology, solid evidence needs to be provided for love of the Father and Son for the Spirit. Where is that evidence?