Monday, February 1, 2010

Basil on the Holy Spirit

Saint Basil the Great 'On the Holy Spirit' New York:st vladimirs 1980. 118pp.

This traetise by the great Cappadocian Father is one of the classic texts on the Holy Spirit. frankly, I found it pretty difficult to get into. I'm trying to figure out why. Basil spends at least 10 chapters on prepositions, with , in, through,by. I guess for those of us who've had some Barth, we know that the safest thing to do is to say every preposition in every sentence. Along with the prepositions, Basil refutes a bunch of other positions that are rarely articulated today, denying the Spirits divinity, comparing with angels, etc etc. As I read through, I realised that the arians and pneumatichoi were actually pretty theologically rigourous and honest. These days no one would say, for example "glory should no be given to the Spirit to such an extreme that we sing Him doxologies" . No. We would quietly take the Spirit out of our worship (can we still call it that) and conflate Him with Bible ; )
Nevertheless, there are some gems in here, probably the mosy important is Basil's idea of the Spirit as the perfecter of creation.

"when you consider creation I advise you to think of Him who is the first cause of everything that exists. Namely, the Father, and then of the Son, who is the creator, and then the Holy Spirit, the perfector"
pp 61

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