Below is a discussion board post for my Systemaitic Theology class. While I don’t really feel like providing the background of this post I figured I woud put it up here in hopes of sparking conversation.
After reading through Chapter 9 in McGrath’s Intro and the assigned readings in McGrath’s Reader, there are quite a few ideas swirling around in my head. I found the discussion about the gender of God most intriguing and took away a few good nuggets that I am sure I will be able to use in future conversations since this topic comes up quite a bit. Most importantly was the portion where McGrath discusses the “pagan overtones” of attributing sexual functions to God (p. 204). Only a few paragraphs later however, I had to chuckle when he wrote, “He is neither man nor woman; he is God.” Language is so limited in it’s ability to communicate accurately. I wish we had a neutral pronoun that was personal (i.e., not “it”).
The portions of our reading that covered the topic of whether or not God suffers was also very intriguing. Honestly I hadn’t really thought about this before. It seemed to me that in reading the scriptures there were many examples of God “feeling” emotion to include suffering. Genesis 6 is a great example from our reading. I was challenged in my association of perfection with impassibility. I have seen this come out in my own life and I believe I have tried to define God in this way.
Lastly, I found the excerpt from Moltmann’s article in the Reader very thought provoking specifically in his discussion of the Holy Spirit in relation to God’s suffering on the cross. He says
This is why it was possible at a later period to speak, with reference to the cross, of homoousia, the Son and the Father being of one substance. In the cross, Jesus and his God are in the deepest sense separated by the Son’s abandonment by the Father, yet at the same time they are in the most intimate sense united in this abandonment or “giving up.” This is because this “giving up” proceeds from the event of the cross that takes place between the Father who abandons and the Son who is abandoned, and this “giving up” is none other than the Holy Spirit. (p. 229)
Then later on he says, “My interpretation of the death of Christ, then, is not as an event between God and man, but primarily as an event within the Trinity between Jesus and his Father, and event from which the Spirit proceeds.” (p. 229)
This raises many questions for me. I have not viewed the Trinity in this way before. I had heard the idea of the Spirit being the result of the relationship between the Father and the Son but I didn’t have the context that I have in this article. At first I thought about how my present view of the Spirit’s place within the Trinity is more along the lines of a separate “person” who though subject to the Father, still acts on his own. I thought about how in my mind, the way Moltmann understands the relationship of the Spirit with the Father and Son doesn’t seem to give the Spirit the “personhood” I have in my mind. This made me think of the discussion in McGrath’s Intro about the definition of the term person so that was helpful. But that still does not resolve the issue in my mind. To use Buber’s terminology, doesn’t this view make the Holy Spirit out to be more of an “it” instead of a “Thou”? And it seems to me that viewing God’s Holy Spirit in this way limits him somehow. If the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are all of the same substance how can it be that the Holy Spirit is the result of the relationship of the other two?