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Habets, The Anointed son: Book Review Part 3

[Following on from Part 1 and Part 2.]

The final three chapters of the book get stuck into the theological ramifications of the Spirit Christology that Habets has exposed in the NT and argued is essential for contemporary theology.



6  And Then There Were Three; Spirit Christology and the Trinity

This chapter surveys approaches to Spirit Christology and the Trinity, firstly those that argue for the replacement of Trinitarian theology with Spirit Christology and then those that argue for the complementarity of the two.  Finally, Habets offers his own proposal built on the best of complementary approaches from both Roman Catholic and Protestant theologians.  Apropriately and most interestingly this requires a discussion of the relation of the economic Trinity (i.e. the Trinity we see at work in the scriptures and Christian experience) and the immanent Trinity, for which Habets is keen to preserve its "apophatic character" (p220).  For Habets, following Weinandy, both Eastern and Western theological traditions have been weak in their appreciation of the Spirit's function within the Trinity (p223).  To remedy this Habets argues that "all three persons of the Trinity, within their relationships, help constitute each other . . . This is acheived through the mutual co-inherence or perichoresis of action within the Trinity that takes place whereby the persons are who they are because of the actions of all three." (p224)  Habets concludes that the Spirit has as active a role within the the Trininty as the Spirit does in making believers sons and daughters in Christ (p227).

7  "Justified by the Spirit?"  Developing a Third Article Theology

Having proposed how Spirit Christology can complement and enhance traditional Trinitarian thinking Habets moves on to outline the ways in Spirit Christology complements and enhances other Christian doctrines.  First he argues that the time is right for Spirit Christology, in that the 21st century is "an age which rejects the universal for the particular."  Hence Spirit Christology's starting point, the particular claim that in and through Jesus Christ we (the Christian community) are moved and transformed by the Holy Spirit, takes on special relevance, as opposed to starting with universal claims about the human plight (p232).  The contribution of Spirit Christology to epistemology, theology of scripture, anthropology, eschatology, ecclesiology, and soteriology, including union with Christ, Theosis and Pneumatology of the Cross, is then sketched.

8  Receiving the Promise: Spirit Christology for Ministry and Mission

The final chapter sets out to demonstrate the practical outworking of the theological ramifications of Spirit Christology.  Far from being an afterthought, this chapter is the climax and highlight of the whole book.  Habets offers a number of provocative suggestions.  For example, "cetain readings of Calcedon" render Jesus "a philosophical aberration that one must comprehend in order to follow" instead Spirit Christology renders Jesus a real human person who once we get to know and learn to follow we eventually come to understand as God incarnate (p262-3).  On the basis of this insight Habets shares helpful insights into the theological and pastoral problems of Jesus' sinlessness and prayer life.  While some have suggested that Jesus' praying showed a lack of unity with God, Habets uses the paradigm of Spirit Christology to turn this argument on its head (p266).  Habets also argues that the incarnation as interpreted within logos Christology potentially makes Jesus remote and transcendent, unapproachable and remote, subverting the very purpose of the incarnation.  Spirit Christology, on the other hand, provides a corrective that allows us to become particpants in, rather than merely spectators of, God's work of salvation (p272).  One of the final moves of the book is to suggest that Spirit Christology, if Habets' model is adopted, has the potential to unite Eastern and Western Churches over the filioque controversy with its ability to affirm the validity of both approaches.

Conclusion

To summarise, Habets's The Anointed Son leads the reader through a thorough introduction to scholarship and approaches to Spirit Christology as well as advocating Habets' own model.  The book's great strength is the amount of ground it covers and its extensive references, making it a useful work for reference and starting point for further research.  Habets' constructive work, especially in the final three chapters is worthy of engagement and should make an important contribution to the field.  The book also provides a number of exciting pointers with regards to the practical application of a Spirit Christology, especially in regard to scripture reading and evangelism, and this is something that would be good to see expanded upon in a further work.

Comments

  1. Jon, I am really on this topic right now. I have a thought process that goes like this. The Lord is one and the son is a finite expression of the infinite. United spiritually but "in the form of a man." The term "son" is a conceptual that the scripture uses all along. How to speak of The Eternal that can feel pain and whose eyes can be looked into. The Spirit is just that. The essence of he who we cannot see but can know and perceive through our human habitation. He is an echad. My messianisim is coming through. Yeshua taught us to pray to the father, and told us if we had seen him we had seen the father. We have spent two millennia working on a concept that allows us to have a friend in Jesus that is somehow not the scary eternal judging creator. This struggle is still a day to day experience for most. John, a doulos

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