Monat: März 2008

Christology and Pneumatology: Inseparable twins

When one of my Google Alerts brought me to the Catholic Analysis blog, I was surprised to find the opinion that …

the truest, fullest, and most authentic "Pentecostalism" is already available in the heart of the Catholic Church […].

 Oh, really? Anyway, getting curious, I ordered Joseph (aka "Benedict XVI" ) Ratzinger’s book on New Outpourings of the Spirit, and, behold, this is interesting stuff. While, of course, I strongly disagree with his sacramental ecclesiology, Ratzinger does deal with a lot of questions that seem familiar from a Pentecostal point of view. I really liked his explanation on the inseparable relationship between Christology and Pneumatology.His basic premise is that,

Christ and the Spirt are properly distinguished only if, by considering their difference, we can learn better about their unity. We cannot properly understand the Spirit without Christ, nor indeed Christ without the Spirit.

This means that …

  1. our understanding of Christ becomes possible only through the Holy Spirit, in whom Christ "shares himself." In view of the upsurge of charismatic movements within the Catholic church in recent decades, Ratzinger contends that

    the new presence of Christ in the Spirit is however the necessary presupposition for there being sacraments or any presence of the Lord in the sacraments.

    This, of course, ties in closely with his previous argument that the sacraments alone constitute the church. Also, he argues that the whole concept of successio apostolica, which is immensely important in Catholic ecclesiology, cannot exist without a proper pneumatological foundation, i.e. an ever-renewed "Sacrament of the Spirit."

  2. our focus on the Spirit has to transform itself into a focus on Christ.

    The Incarnation does not stop with the historical Jesus, with his sarx (2 Cor 5:16!). It is thus that the "historical Jesus" becomes forever significant, precisely on account of his "flesh" having been transformed in the Resurrection, so that now, in the power of the Holy Spirit, he can be present at all times and in all places […].

    The Spirit’s whole purpose in ministry is not to point to himself, but to mediate the risen Christ to the believers.

In view of the often one-sided emphases on either Christology or Pneumatology, especially in the debates between Pentecostals and mainline Evangelicals, I find these thoughts really helpful.

This is interesting stuff. I’m going to have to reflect on it a little more and I’m curious to read the rest of the book. Tell me what you think …


Über Christoph

Christoph Fischer (* 1978) ist Pfarrer der Evangelischen Landeskirche in Württemberg auf der Pfarrstelle „Erlöserkirche“ in Albstadt-Tailfingen.

Christoph ist verheiratet mit Rebecca. Gemeinsam haben sie drei Töchter.