Many theology professors inform classes that the average Christian is “docetic”. That is, they explain how most Christians affirm the humanity of Christ but when it comes down to it they are often uncomfortable with what it means to embrace Jesus’ full humanity. So, the humanity of Christ for many only “seems” to be human — he’s God in skin. That sort of idea.
Those same theologians also must inform classes that many Christians totally ignore the Holy Spirit. (Which, if you are now counting, means many Christians end up being “binitarians”.) But, when it comes to the Spirit, there is a re-awakening of not only interest but practice itself.
Hence, the new book by LeRon Shults and Andrea Hollingsworth, The Holy Spirit (Eerdmans Guides to Theology), is a huge help. This is a perfect book for a budding theologian or for one who needs to catch up. Here’s why:
First, it is brief — appr 150 pages.
Second, it has a readable, informed, and comprehensive sketch of the history of thinking about the Holy Spirit — not too dense for students and brief enough for the pastor. Excellent sections on the Cappadocians and on Calvin, who is often neglected when it comes to the Holy Spirit. Nice sections on Pietism and Pentecostalism.
Third, it is not shaped by inter-evangelical debates but by the great ideas and thinkers in the history of the Church. The door is open for all the major thinkers, whether it is Charles Hodge or Friedrich Schleiermacher — and not to be forgotten are the ecumenical movement, feminist and liberation theologies. The discussion ends with the prospects of how Holy Spirit will be understood in light of recent developments in theology.
And, fourth, a complete annotated bibliography. I read the annotations and for everyone I have read I thought the brief description was accurate and useful.
This is, unless I’m mistaken, the first volume in Eerdmans’ new series, Guides to Theology, a series sponsored by the Christian Theological Research Fellowship. If all the volumes are like this … we’re in for some great reading!