Resident Spirit?

So, in my quest to get away from Latin for the tiniest bit of a while, I’m turning back to reading a bit more intensely. It gets me focused on my goals again and inspires me to think there’s something to this whole theology business.

Anyway, I finally got around to reading Resident Aliens by Stanley Hauerwas and William Willimon. It’s a good and interesting book overall, though I’m not quite convinced by the main ideas of the book. Which is curious, because there’s a lot of good points, and I feel like I’m definitely hovering around the same basic goals, but it doesn ‘t grab me. I’d be more specific on why, but I think I need to get a bit more Hauerwas reading in, from some of his other — more academic books — and see if a better critique forms.

Hauerwas is on the list of authors who I feel I need to become much more familiar with as I begin my dissertation this year. Bonhoeffer is another. Right now, I’m resonating a lot more with Bonhoeffer for some reason.

Maybe a reason I’m not resonating with Hauerwas is the curious little fact I noticed about Resident Aliens. The Holy Spirit is entirely lacking in the book. That’s not a spiritual judgment, it’s a note about the content. In fact, as far as I could tell the Spirit is mentioned by name, at all, only three times in the book. Two of these times comes in quotations of Biblical passages, both in Ephesians, I believe. The Spirit is mentioned in the verses, but as that’s not the point of their being quoted, I don’t count these as substantive mentions. Third time the Holy Spirit is named is in a liturgical sort of sentence in which the authors are basically saying that Christians believe in a triune God.

Sure, that’s the confession. But I don’t see the influence of this confession in the book at all. Whither the Spirit? This is interesting in any book on theology, but in a book that’s so entirely about the church and the Christian life and the Christian people, it seems absolutely curious that the Spirit is entirely ignored as a factor.

Now, I’m not suggesting some specific ways this lack of focus leads them off track. Only that it seems that ignoring the Holy Spirit, especially in a book on the church, would lead to an incomplete study and incomplete conclusions. After all, it’s precisely in the discussions on the church and the Christian life that the Spirit is discussed the most in the Bible.

I’m not sure what difference it makes for Resident Aliens, but I have to think it makes a profound difference indeed. I’m going to be thinking on this some more as I continue my reading of other texts.

This is probably, though, why I like Moltmann so much. He is much more comprehensive in getting to the important factors of theology and using these to influence his developing theology. For him the Spirit makes a significant difference not only in action but also in reflection. The Spirit matters for theology, if it is to be a truly Christian theology.

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