The Spirit helps to give the Word form. In that pattern of possibility we learn a lesson about the form the Christ-centered theological meaning of Scripture takes. The form of access is personal – holistic, embodied, and social – not strictly cognitive…the Spirit tans-forms us by the renewing of our minds in such a way that we are con-formed to Christ. Yet, although the Spirit’s renewal always takes a form like Christ’s and therefore fits within and extends the patterns of his mind in Scripture, two reminders balance this out with remaining freedom for interpretative practice.
First, who raised Christ from the dead so that he could ascend triumphantly as the God-man? The Spirit. Their relationship is not simply asymmetrical in favor of the Son, but always interpenetrating and mutually on the move. Second, what is the form of Christ? Not the form of God given from the Father only, but the Logos took human form and grew faithfully in the freedom of the Spirit as well. For the Spirit not only raised him from the dead but also led throughout his life and to the cross. Indeed, the Spirit superintended and strengthened the incarnate Son from conception onward. Moreover…the Spirit spoke through the OT “prophets” even before that. This means that the form of Israel’s servanthood, which shaped the vocation Jesus Christ fulfilled, was shaped by the Holy Spirit’s role in the economy of salvation.
Accordingly, while the Spirit’s freedom in illuminating Scripture for us is always bound to take the form of the inspired Word, that says a lot! The Spirit helped give form to that Word in the first place – not simply in the testimony of “apostles” after the fact, but just as surely before in prophetic testimony to the form the Son would take. Worries about the doctrine of revelation resulting in Trinitarian imbalance, or de-personalization of the Spirit, are best addressed not by denying that in Christ all things hold together, but by developing the Spirit’s salvation-historical role in proper Christimorphism…The Spirit’s formation of a particular people (Israel, in part via law) and person (the Christ) paved the way for the most universal freedom, which can embrace rather than bypass cultural particularity (the church).
In this light, implications of the famous analogy between the divinity and humanity of the Logos, and the divinity and humanity of Scripture, may take appropriate shape. God’s self-communication does incorporate three forms – three human forms, in fact, which include both personal and verbal factors. In the primary form, Jesus Christ, the personal factor seems primary; in the tertiary form, church witness and its forms of understanding, the personal factors also seem primary…; whereas, in the second form, Scripture, the verbal factor seems primary (it is the certain source for the Spirit’s connection between the church and the mind of Christ).
Thursday, October 18, 2007
Dan Treier on Word and Spirit, Revelation and Scripture
Posted by W. Travis McMaken
Daniel J. Treier, Virtue and the Voice of God: Towards Theology As Wisdom (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2006), 197-8.