While there are many theological issues that seem to provoke initial discomfort, only to subside with the passing of time, others act like constant pinpricks to my theological sensibilities. This quote from Ray Anderson, which i read yesterday, is representative of one such consistent agitation:
The Holy Spirit is the revelation to us of the inner being of God as constituted by the eternal and ongoing relation between Father and Son [source].
The reason why this statement, and many others similar to it, cause my eye to twitch is that it seems to really downplay the Deity of the Holy Spirit. Sure people give lip service to the deity of the Holy Spirit, and even assert that the Holy Spirit is active in the world, but it seems that many theologians are reluctant to assert that the Holy Spirit has genuine personhood, or to explicate how the term can be consistently be applied to all three members of the Trinity. While there is little doubt that defining such a term when seeking to discuss the nature of God is a tricky task to say the least, without it most seem to underemphasize the personal nature of the Spirit.
What we get instead is the quote above, which relegates the Holy Spirit to being merely a divine moped of sorts, the vehicle through which the Father and Son commune, the vehicle we ride into that communion, and the one whose job it is to reveal to us the “true” inner being of God, found in the relationship between the Son and the Spirit. When the inner being of God is constituted by the relationship of the Father and Son, which the Holy Spirit merely reveals to us, it seems hard to deny that one member of the Triune God is left outside looking in.
It seems that in the drive to be thoroughly Christocentric in theology, an equally rigorous doctrine of the Spirit is lost, swallowed up by Christology. As a side note, this is why i often find the more “social” understandings of the Trinity compelling, b/c a lot of what passes for Trinitarian theology is really binitarian to me. The understanding of the Trinity in the tradition of the Torrances seem to be, at least.
All that said, I’m very open to having someone show me how the Trinitarian conceptions of Anderson and the Torrance’s have a high view of the Spirit, or how they ascribe genuine personhood to all three members of the Trinity. Some one help me, this splinter is killing me!