“. . . A distinctive feature of the New Testament characterisations of the Spirit’s action is their thoroughgoing eschatological emphasis. In Paul, the Spirit is the presence now, by anticipation, of that which belongs to the age to come: hence he is the arrabon (down-payment, 2 Cor. 1.22), aparke (first fruits, Rom. 8.23). Similarly, in Acts, the Pentecost event is portrayed as the fulfillment of Joel’s eschatological promise. Again, the Spirit performs the divine actions of the end time in the here and now: judgment (John 16:8, cf. Luke 3.16); redemption (Rom. 8); love, prophecy, truth (1 Cor. 12–14). Important here is the link Paul makes between the Spirit and freedom: liberation, as some contemporary theologies seem to forget, is an essentially eschatological concept; it is only won—or rather, given—proleptically, by the Spirit. ‘Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom’ (2 Cor. 3.17). The Spirit of God in his freedom to create in the here and now the conditions of redemption of all things promised for the end. He is the freedom of the Father to create through the Son, to incarnate the Son in the flesh, to raise the mortal body to immortality. He is the freedom of God to choose Israel and the Church, and to enable both of them to be, from time to time, particularisations of the community of the end time. (Colin E. Gunton, “Theology Through The Theologians,” 119-20)

[Not to sidetrack from this brilliant quote from Gunton, but I just wanted to note something that I appreciate about his “theologizing.” I think something that makes Gunton stand out, for me, amongst systematic theologians is his constant appeal to the categories of Scripture as the “canon” for shaping his theological constructing. Often times, in reading other prominent theologians, I have noticed that they are not, in general, as intentional in this regard. Anyway I just wanted to highlight this as an appealing feature of Gunton’s theological work.]

Advertisements