Quote of the Week

This week, we hear from Meredith Kline, on a subject that is not one of the normal controversial subjects surrounding Kline’s work, but which nonetheless might very well prove to be controversial. I have not seen anyone address this question before now (which doesn’t mean that no one has, just that I haven’t read it). The quotation is from God, Heaven, and Har Magedon, p. 16:

It is by the Holy Spirit that Jesus was conceived, the Glory-Spirit, the Power of the Most High, coming upon Mary and overshadowing her (Luke 1:35). The Father begets the Son through the Spirit. In this process the Spirit is the second person and the Son the third. And as in the spiration of the Spirit so in the begetting of the Son the economic relations of the divine persons are to be seen as analogues of their eternal immanent relations. The fathering of the incarnate Son by the endoxate (this is a term Kline coined to refer to the manifestation of the Spirit’s glory in visible form, LK) Spirit warrants inclusion of the Spirit along with the Father as a subject in the eternal divine begetting, the generating process of which the Son is the object. It is a desideratum, therefore, that a reference to the Holy Spirit corresponding to the filioque phrase in the creedal account of the spiration of the Spirit find a place in our confessional formulation of the eternal filiation of the Son.

What say you? Yes or no? The part that appeals to me about this formulation is that the eternal filiation of the Son has usually left out the Holy Spirit’s role in most theologians’ way of putting things. Kline puts the Holy Spirit back in where He belongs. The question I have revolves around the analogue: is it proper to reason back from the Incarnation to the eternal relations? And can that principle be extended to how the Holy Spirit is involved in the eternal filiation vis-a-vis the Holy Spirit’s participation in the Incarnation?

3 Comments

  1. Steven Mitchell said,

    August 26, 2015 at 1:59 pm

    That reasoning backwards from incarnation to the eternal generation is, I think, the breakdown in the argument. That third sentence threw up red flags as soon as I read it. Even if such a leap cannot be justified directly by scriptural appeal (nothing comes to my mind), I’d like to see SOME argument justifying this claimed analogy rather than just stating it matter-of-factly.

  2. Steve M said,

    August 27, 2015 at 12:19 pm

    ” It is a desideratum, therefore, that a reference to the Holy Spirit corresponding to the filioque phrase in the creedal account of the spiration of the Spirit find a place in our confessional formulation of the eternal filiation of the Son.”

    Amen! How profound! I am certain that if Kline really worked at it, He could have stated this using even more obscure language than this and he would have appeared even more intellectually superior to those he is attempting to buffalo. I think when we wish to communicate theological truths we should be as sesquipedalian as possible.

  3. vandalage said,

    September 11, 2015 at 11:47 pm

    Decidedly not. I think that a subversion of the taxis would ultimately result in a subversion of the doctrine itself. Since the relations are mutual, the fact that the Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son creates no need for the Son to somehow be generated by the Spirit as well as the Father. He is already related to the Son. Richard of St. Victor’s “On The Trinity” gives a good account of those relations.

    I think the analogy is flawed and uncompelling. To give just one reason, it seems clear from a passage like John 17:5 that the Incarnation and the whole state of humiliation represents quite a disruption to the usual order. The fact that the Holy Spirit worked to produce Christ’s human nature doesn’t mean that he is involved in eternal filiation.

    At best, Kline’s idea seems like a reckless speculation.


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