Spirit and Creation
“No primary Christian doctrine has been left so undeveloped dogmatically”, yet “the Bible is the Book of the Spirit”, wrote Wheeler Robinson (Robinson 1928). Although there existed a vivid awareness of the Spirit in the early Church (as shown by 302 references in the NT against 195 in the OT), there was little actiï¿½vity in pneuï¿½matoï¿½logy in the first four centuries, when christology was the major topic of discusï¿½sion (McGrath 2001). Medieval theology did little to enrich or exï¿½pand the doctrine of the Spirit, and the same can be said for the Reformers (Loder and Neidhardt 1992).
In recent years renewed attention has been paid to pneumatology, leading to new articulations of the doctrine of the Spirit and its application to other theoloï¿½gical topics (Green 1975; Pinnock 1996; Kï¿½rkkï¿½inen 2002; Edwards 2004). Amos Yong recently presented an overview of sixteen ways in which the category of ‘spirit’ has been used in the dialogue between theology and the sciences (Yong 2005). In this essay I pursue this matter further in an attempt to see whether science can aid us in defining the function of the Spirit. I first review the bibliï¿½cal teaching about the activities of the Spirit (section 2), and its theoï¿½loï¿½gical developï¿½ment (section 3). This is followed by an anaï¿½lysis of these data in order to find a common denominator for the various activiï¿½ties ascriï¿½bed to the Spirit (section 4), leading to a discussion of the Spirit functioning as a transï¿½mitter of inforï¿½maï¿½tion (section 5). I then consider what modern cosmology can contriï¿½bute to our underï¿½standing of the work of the Spirit in creation (section 6). Finally, I describe three occasions for a concerted action of Spirit and Logos: in creation, in the birth of Christ and in the eschatological event (section 7). Together this proï¿½vides a proï¿½posal for an enhanced pneumatology.
2. Biblical aspects
Scripture speaks more about the function than about the nature of the Spirit. A survey of the biblical references shows that a rather bewildering variety of activiï¿½ties is ascribed to the Spirit (Green 1975; Dunn 1996; Schmaus 1981). The findings are shown rather fully in order to preï¿½vent personal bias in the selection of a common denominator for the activities of the Spirit.
a. Old Testament (OT)
In the OT ruach can stand for wind, breath and spirit. As ‘wind’ it refers to the natural phenomenon, but with the religious connotation of power of God (e.g., the wind dividing the Red Sea; Ex.14:21). It is distinguished from the human spirit (nephesh). The power of God’s Spirit is thought to be associated with the heroic feats of men such as Joseph (Gen.41:38), Moses (Num.11: 17), Gideon (Jg.14:6), Samson (Jg.14:6), and to rest on kings such as David (1Sam.16:13). It is thought to inspire ecstatic forms of propheï¿½cy (1Sam.10:6;19:24). As ‘breath’ ruach stands for the source of life (Gen.2:7; Job 34:14f; Ps.104:29f; Ezek.37:7-10). In post-exilic writings ruach is seen as inspiring proï¿½phecy (Isa.59: 21; Ezek.2:2; 8:3, Hos.9:7, Mic.3:8), and also as God’s presence (Ps. 51:11). The Spirit of God is occasionally praised as the cause of salï¿½vation for all the people of God (Ps.51:12f; Ps.143:10) and as a guarantee of God’s fidelity (Isa.59:21). The Spirit is seen as resting on the coming Messiah (Isa.11:2; 32:15; 42:1), and through him will be poured out on all the faithful (Isa.32:15; 44:3; Ezek.11:19; 36:27; 37:14; 39:29; Joel 2:28ff, Zech.12:10), leading to conversion (Ezek.36:25ff).
In the intertestamental wisdom writings the role attributed to the Spirit diminï¿½ishes, and Spirit is in a few places equated with Wisdom (Wis.1:6; 7:22; 9:17). In rabbinic Judaï¿½ism and the Targums the Spirit is above all the spirit of prophecy, but is also seen as a pledge of the resurrection of the dead.
Association of the Spirit with creation is limited to the life-giving action of God’s breath (Gen.2:7; Job 33:4), except for the questï¿½ionï¿½able interï¿½pretation of Gen.1:2b (see section 4). In the OT the Spirit appears to be seen as God’s presenï¿½ce and interï¿½vention but not as a person.
b. New Testament (NT)
In the NT pneuma is used for spirit as the equivalent of the OT ruach. It is sometimes (24 times) used for evil spirits (e.g., Mt.8:16, Mk.1:26f; Lk.4:36; Acts 19:12f), but most frequently for God’s Spirit (250 times). John the Baptist proï¿½claimï¿½ed that the outpouring of the Spirit was near, and the one who was coming (Jesus) would as bearer and dispenser of the Spirit (Jn.1:26) baptize in Spirit and fire (Mt.3: 11; Lk.3:16; Jn.1:33). After his baptism by John, Jesus was driven by the Spirit into the desert to be tested (Mk.1:12). Jesus proï¿½claimï¿½ed that the eschaï¿½tological Spirit, the power of the end, was already at work through him in his words and deeds (Mt. 12:28). It can be said that the Spirit was the moving power behind every activity of Jesus. His recognition of the divinity of the Spirit made him see opposition to the Spirit as the unpardonable sin (Mk.3:29f; Mt.12:31f; Lk.12:10). This is illuï¿½straï¿½ted in the story of the death of Ananias and his wife Sapphira (Acts 5:1ff): because the Church is led by the Spirit, their lie was an offence against the Spirit (Acts 5:9). Jesus promised the Spirit to his disciples during his absence (Acts 1:8) and when they would be in triï¿½buï¿½lation (Mk.13:11; Jn.14:15-17).
Pentecost was the outpouring of the Spirit on the disciples, their bapï¿½tism in the Spirit (Acts 1:5), which turns them into fearless witnesses to Christ (Acts 2:1-11). They experienced this as the definitive bestowal of salvation, the fulfilment of the OT promises. With Pentecost the era of the Spirit begins for the Church, henceï¿½forth the Spirit guides the Church and inspires all within it. The Spirit is the life-giver in marking the beginï¿½ning of the Christian life (Acts 8:14-17; Gal.3:2f; Jn.3:3-8, 6:63), which looks towards fulfilï¿½ment in the resurrection on the last day (2Cor. 1:22; Eph.1:13f). The Spirit brings a personal relationship with God, fulfilï¿½ling Jereï¿½miah’s hope (Jer.31:31-34), and makes worship and obedience free, vital, and sponï¿½ï¿½taneous (Rom.2:28f; Eph.2:18; Phil.3:3). The Spirit of the new age builds community as he works through all its members (Acts 2:17f; Rom.8:9), thus uniting a group of diverse indiviï¿½duals into one body (1Cor.12:13; Eph.4:3f; Phil. 2:1). John emphaï¿½sizes the personal nature of the Spirit as the paraï¿½clete (helper, advoï¿½cate, comï¿½forter) who repreï¿½sents Christ during his absence (Jn.14:16f; 25f) and who pleads for us (1Jn.2:1). All four gospels express this in the story of the descent of the Spirit in the likeness of a dove at Jesus’ bapï¿½tism (Mt.3:16, Mk.1:10; Lk.3:22; Jn.1:32).
Paul sees Christ as being active through the Spirit (Rom.8:9; Gal.4:6; Phil.1: 19), yet he makes a distinction between Christ and Spirit (Rom.5:1-5). Jesus is now preï¿½sent to the believer only in and through the Spirit. The roots of Trinitaï¿½riï¿½an thinkï¿½ing are eviï¿½dent in Paul’s reï¿½cogï¿½nition that we experience through the Spirit a relaï¿½tion to the Father (Rom.8:15f; Gal.4:6) and to the Son (1Cor.12:3). This is eloquently summarized at the end of his second epistle to the Corinthians (2Cor. 13:13). To let the Church grow to full maturity in Christ, Paul recommends the exercise of the charismata, the gifts of the Spirit (1Cor.12): wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, workï¿½ing of miracles, prophecy, discerning of spirits, speaking in tongues, the interpreï¿½tation of tongues, but the greatest of these is love (1Cor.13). He encourï¿½ages a full use of the charismata (1Thess.5:19), but when order in the church is threatened, he regulates them (1Cor.14:34). The Spirit works in our personal prayer (Rom.8:26). The Church and the indiï¿½viduï¿½al Christian are a temple of the Spirit (1Cor.3:16; 6:19). The Spirit is the giver of eternal life, who overï¿½comes our mortality (Rom.8:10-11; Gal.6:8). The Spirit brings liberation from the law (Rom.8:2) as well as sanctification (2Thess.2:13), and is maniï¿½fest in ethical behavior (Gal.5:22-26). But we must accept the gifts of the Spirit and be receptive to the Spirit. It can be said that in Paul’s thinking the Spirit is even more central than justification.
3. Theological development
As said in the Introduction (section 1), the doctrine of the Spirit (pneumatology) has remained an underdeveloped area of theology. Pneumatology always lagged behind Christology (Schmaus 1981), and was mostly centered on the nature rather than on the function of the Spirit, as will be clear from the following brief account of the development of pneumatology.
In the patristic period the nature and relationships of the Spirit were studied. Theophilus (180) equated Word and Spirit under the concept of the Wisdom of God, but this view did not prevail. The baptismal forï¿½mula at the end of the gospel of Matthew (Mt.28:19), probably a 2nd century insert, shows the beginning of triniï¿½tarian thinking. Athanasius (350) maintained the divinity of the Spirit against the Pneumatomachoi, and concluded that the Spirit shares in the divine substance. Gregory of Nazianzus (380) described the inner life of the Trinity as a perichoreï¿½sis, a moving-around within the Trinity, while the Cappaï¿½docian fathers spoke about a ‘relational quality’. One of them, Basil of Caesarea (370) spoke of a koinoï¿½nia (comï¿½muï¿½nion) of the Spirit with the Father and the Son. Arius questioned the divinity of the Spirit in mainï¿½taining that the Spirit was created by the Son. This teaching was attacked by Athanasius, and conï¿½demned at the Council of Constanï¿½tinople (381), which defined the Spirit as. ‘the Lord and giver of life, who proï¿½ceeds from the Father, and is worshipï¿½ped and gloï¿½riï¿½fied with the Father and the Son‘. The Roman synod under pope Damasus I (382) emphasized the divinity of the Spirit without speaking about the function. Didymus (d.398) claimed that the functions specific to the Spirit establish his divinity. If the Spirit is responsible for creating, renewing, and sancï¿½tiï¿½fying God’s creatures, he reasoned, then the Spirit could not be a creature and must share in the divine nature.
Augustine (400) saw the Spirit as the bond of love and unity between the Father and the Son. As God’s gift to us, the Spirit unites us to God and to each other, thus bringï¿½ing about the unity of the Church, which is the temple of the Spirit. Thomas Aquinas (1260) did not contribute significant new insights in pneuï¿½maï¿½toï¿½logy. In medieval and later theology the Spirit’s relation to grace was conï¿½sidered, with the question whether the Spirit was to be seen as an entity or a person. Peter Lombard (1150) identified grace and Spirit, but this was generally rejected in the 13th and 14th centuries.
The Nicene Creed, as adopted at the Councils of Nicea and Constantinople, speaks about the Spirit ‘who proceeds from the Father‘. The Synod of Braga (675), wishing to emphasize the equal position of Father and Son, added to this phrase the words ‘and the Son‘ (Lat. filioque). This was taken over by synods in Gaul and Italy, and later ratiï¿½fied by pope Benedict VIII (1014) at the insistence of Emperor Henry I. This unilateral act of the Latin church was resented by the Greek church, causing patriarch Photius to reject the insertion and to declare the procession of the Spirit ‘from the Father alone’ to be a major dogma (1078). The filioque clause thus became a theoï¿½logical argument in the long-standing politiï¿½cal and ecclesiastical disputes between Rome and Constanï¿½tiï¿½nople, leading to a schism that has never yet been healed. I prefer to abandon the ideas of filioque and the ‘pre-existing’ Christ (while maintaining the pre-existence of the Logos), because their acceptance leaves a meager role for the Father, who then seems to be overtaken by the Son who creates and also sends out the Spirit.
Nevertheless, the doctrine of the Trinity with the Spirit as a divine Person in unity with the Father and the Son has been universally held since its formulation at the Council of Constantinople. In my further discussion I shall accept this tenet, noting nevertheless that the development of pneumatology sketched here has not proviï¿½ded us with much insight in the function of the Spirit.
4. Seeking the common denominator
As shown in section 2, Scripture presents us with a great variety of activiï¿½ties of the Spirt. In the early OT writings he appears as an elemental, even demoï¿½nic power, leading to heroic feats and ecstatic prophecy, but also as the giver of biological life (breath of God).1 In the later OT writings the Spirit is a divine presence, resting on the coming Messiah, and he is a guarantee of God’s fidelity and of salvation. In the NT, where the Spirit plays a much more dominant role, he is the moving power behind Jesus, after whose resurrection and ascenï¿½sion he represents Christ and pleads for us as our advocate. On Pentecost the Spirit is poured out on the disciples. He builds and guides the community and is in commuï¿½niï¿½cation with the Church. The Spirit is the giver of spiritual as well as eternal life, he bestows various gifts (charismata) on the faithful. He sanctifies us and lifts our communal and indiviï¿½dual prayers to God. One important matter to be kept in mind is that for the Spirit to work in us and in the Church, we must be receptive to him.
Five functions of the Spirit can thus be distinguished: (1) Life-giver; (2) Uniï¿½fier; (3) Revealer; (4) Sanctiï¿½fier; (5) Advocate. How shall we bring these five functions of the Spirit under a comï¿½mon denominator? I suggest that the term ‘Communicator’ could cover all five functions: communicating biological, spiriï¿½ï¿½tual and eschatological life, commuï¿½niï¿½cating unity and love from God to his creaï¿½tures, communicating God’s message in prophecy and Scripture, communiï¿½caï¿½ting sanctity to human creatures, and commuï¿½niï¿½cating as Counselor between God, both Father and Son, and humans. All these activities appear to be covered by the term ‘God the Communicator’. In the terminology of present-day information theory, the Spirit functions as a transï¿½mitter of information, from God to us and from us to God. Before exploring this conclusion in more detail in section 5 a few words need to be said about the relationship between the Spirit and creation.
There is one text that has often been interpreted as indicating a role of the Spirit as a creative agent: Gen.1:2b, in its traditional translation. ‘the Spirit of God hovering over the waters‘. However, the question is whether ruach stands here for spirit or for wind. After an extenï¿½sive discussion, Claus Westermann conï¿½cludes: (1) there is no reason to separate vs.2b from vs.2a; (2) taking vs.2b as the first work of creation clashes with the further narrative in Gen.1 where each section begins with ‘and God said‘, indicating the Logos, God’s Word, as the creative agent; (3) the verb meraï¿½chefet means ‘flutter’, ‘flap’, ‘shake’ which indicaï¿½tes that ruach here means ‘wind’, rather than ‘spirit’ (in Hebrew the verb deterï¿½mines the meaning of the noun); (4) the term ruach elohim occurs nowhere else in the OT with merachefet or similar verb, either as ‘wind of God’ or as ‘spirit of God’, so elohim is probably used as a superï¿½lative of ruach: ‘mighty wind’; (5) comï¿½parison with Egyptian cosmogony reï¿½inforces the idea that vs.2b is part of the description of the primordial chaos, the situation before creation begins (Westermann 1994). The transï¿½lation then becomes: a mighty wind swept over the face of the waters. Others concur in this transï¿½lation (Richardson 1953; McCasland 1962; De Fraine 1963; Berkhof 1973), and recent Bible versions use this transï¿½lation or li t it as an alterï¿½naï¿½tive.2 ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½
This pleads against seeing the Spirit as the creative agent in the way that the Logos is presented in Gen.1:3-31, as read in the light of Jn.1:1-4. There God’s powerful Word (Gk. Logos) is the agent by which God calls all aspects of his creation into being, indicated by the repeated phrase God said (vss. 3, 6, 9, 11, 14, 20, 24, 26). This is confirmed in three other places: Ps.33:6 (By the word of the Lord the heavens were made…), Isa.55:11 (so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth…it shall accomplish that which I purpose…), and Heb.11:3 (By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God…). In the time of Jesus, the Jewish philosopher Philo saw the Logos as the chief power of God, energeia, through which the world was made.3ï¿½Likewise, Maximus the Confessor (580-662) defined the logoi of creation as the energies of God, as distinct from the essence of God (Thunberg 1985).
5. Spirit and information
How does the Spirit transmit information? I suggest that science can help us to answer this question, since we are dealing here with a process that at least partly takes place in our world. However, we must distinguish carefully between direct and metaphorical language (Bonting 2004).
Wolfhart Pannenberg proposes that the Spirit operaï¿½tes as a divine field of force according to the physical field theory developed by Michael Faraday for the exï¿½planation of the long-distance effects of electric and magnetic forces (Pannenberg 1994). Howï¿½ever, this ‘field theory’ of the Spirit has been critiï¿½cized by several authors. Colin Gunton says that descriï¿½bing the Holy Spirit as a divine field of force deperï¿½sonï¿½alizes the third person of the Trinity (Gunton 1998). Mark Worthing points out that according to current physical understanding the fields and lines of force in the field theory are not a physical reality but a metaphor, in contrast to what Faraday claimï¿½ed (Worthing 1996). In identifying the work of the Spirit with Faraday’s field theory, Pannenberg erroneously suggests that all forces in the cosmos can be reduced to a single field of force that determines all changes in the cosmos. It is an example of the conï¿½fusion that can arise when metaï¿½phors are treated as reality.
Another attempt to obtain enlightenment from science is the Strange Loop model of Loder and Neidhardt (1992). They proceed from the perichoï¿½resis notion of Grgeory of Nazianzus for the relational movements within the Trinity (section 3). The Strange Loop, also called a Mï¿½bius band, is a matheï¿½maï¿½tiï¿½cal figure derived from topology, a branch of mathematics. While this may possibly provide a metaï¿½phor for the interaction of the Persons within the Trinity, it does not give us more insight in the functionï¿½ing of the Spirit.
Jï¿½rgen Moltmann gives the Spirit a near-monoï¿½poly in creation, neglecï¿½ting the role of the Logos (Moltmann 1991). Actually, he is speaking of the life-giving action of the Spirit, since he bases his claim on the psalm text: When you send forth your spirit [ruach], they [the animals] are created (Ps.104:30). From this text Moltmann concludes: This presupposes that God always creates through and in the power of his Spirit…. Then he suddenly brings in Wisdom, quoting Prov.8:22-31, but conï¿½cludes that this Wisdom of creation and the concept of creation in the Spirit are still awaiting theological development even today. I suggest that rather than seeing Wisdom as a person (which is suggested only in a very few places in the wisï¿½dom literature), we should see wisdom as a quality of God’s creative work. Moltmann also disregards the scientific evidence indicating that some 9 billion years of God’s creative activity preceded the appearance of the first living organisms.
In order to understand the manyfold activities of the Spirit I suggest that a more suitable metaï¿½phor is the virtually instantaneous, worldwide transï¿½ï¿½ï¿½mission of inforï¿½maï¿½tion (text, numerical data, images, voice) in digitalized form through the Interï¿½net. The variety of information that can be transmitted in this way parallels the variety of actions attributed to the Spirit in Scripture (section 2). The life-giving action of the Spirit (Gen.2:7; Ezek.37:1-10) can be compared to the possibility to activate from our workplace an apparatus in our home. The Spirit acting as a ‘Unifier’ finds a parallel in the effect of a mesï¿½sage posted on Internet, which being read by many may lead to concerted action, as alas exemï¿½plified by current terroï¿½rist activity. Our communal and individuï¿½al prayers are transmitted to God by the Spirit like an e-mail message is transmitted to an addressee anywhere in the world.
The interaction of spiritual ‘information’ with our mind is beginning to be underï¿½ï¿½ï¿½stood through neurobiological research. Incoming information triggers nerve imï¿½pulses in the neuronal networks in our brain. Depending on the type of inforï¿½maï¿½tion, these imï¿½pulses are processed in different parts of the brain. Meditation actiï¿½vates first the frontal cortex (site of attention and conï¿½centration) and then the limbic system (site of processing powerful feelings), while the parietal lobe (sense of orienï¿½tation in space and time) is deactivated (Newberg 2003). To conduct the impulse from one neuron to the next in the network, neurotransmitters are needed. One of these, serotonin, operates in the neuronal activity that determines our mood. Depression is assoï¿½ciï¿½aï¿½ted with low serotonin levels and can therefore be treated with a serotonin re-uptake inhibitor like Prozac). Dean Hamer found that an active form of the VMAT2 gene, which codes for a serotonin-releasing enzyme, is associated with a high spirituality score on the ‘Temperaï¿½ment and Character Invenï¿½tory’ (TCI), while persons with a mutated form of the gene have a low score (Hamer 2004). This suggests that God’s spiritual information, transmitted by the Spirit acting as Revealer, Sanctifier and Advocate, is received and procesï¿½sed by the biological subï¿½strate of our mind, by neuronal netï¿½works and neurotransï¿½mitters.
Receptivity to the Spirit can also be described with the model. When I unhook my computer from telephone or cable, I cannot receive or send e-mail messages or reach the Internet. When I have a wireless connection to the Internet by means of a so-called airport card, then this card must be tuned to the telephone or cable modem in order for me to receive or send messages. Just as our mind must be tuned to the Spirit in order to receive his message to us. The operation of evil spirits, assumed in many of the healing acts of Jesus, can be described in Internet terminology as ‘spam’, the unwanted messages of frequently dubious quality that we receive on our screen.
The various activities of the Spirit can thus be understood metaphorically as the transmission of information through the Internetï¿½ Once this information reachï¿½es our frontal cortex (the equivalent of the airport card in my computer), it is processed by neuronal networks in the brain to elicit awareness and feeling.
6. Spirit and creation; contribution of science
The idea of an initial, non-incarnate Logos as God’s enerï¿½geia, through which God calls all aspects of his creation into being, fits very well with modern cosmoï¿½logical theory, which tells us that the cosmos originated in a tremendous explosion, the ‘big bang’. Although the theory cannot explain the origin of this explosion, it must have required a very large amount of energy, more than 1022ï¿½kilowatthours (1022ï¿½stands for 1 followed by 22 zeroes). This energy served partly as the kineï¿½tic energy for the expanding fireball, and partly for conversion to the primeval matter, quarks and gluons, from which arose the light elements, hydrogen, helium and lithium (Bonting 2002). In theological terms, it is reasonï¿½able to assume that this energy has been provided by the powerful, energetic Logos. This onetime insertion of energy sufficed for the cosmic and biological evolution of the universe. Solar energy (deriving from the energy of the initial explosion) provides for the developï¿½ment and maintenance of life on Earth.
Information, in the form of the laws of nature, the four physical forces, and the fundaï¿½menï¿½tal constants, was required to order the brute explosive force into a creative process. This information cannot have been brought in at the instant ï¿½of the big bang (t = 0), as indicated by information theory and by quantum-gravity theory. In information theory an equation, relaï¿½ting inforï¿½maï¿½tion conï¿½tent to the entropy (the physiï¿½cal measure for disorder) of the developï¿½ing cosmos, shows that at t = 0 the inforï¿½mation content was zero, and thereafter increased (Stonier 1990). Current quantum-gravity theory suggests that at t = 0 there can have been no inï¿½forï¿½ï¿½maï¿½tion present (Hogan 2002a). This theory poses that at the quanï¿½tum level (which applies to the very early universe) the information content is limited to 1 bit per square Planck distance (=10-35m; 10-35stands for 1 divided by 1 followed by 35 zeroes) (Musser 2002; Hogan 2002b). So inforï¿½maï¿½ï¿½ï¿½tion can only have been brought in shortly after the exploï¿½sion. This must have happenï¿½ed just before the start of the ‘inflation’, the very fast expansion lasting only 10-30ï¿½sec that increased the diameter of the universe from 10-30ï¿½m to about 10 cm. This inflaï¿½tion deterï¿½mined the entire further course of the cosmos: (1) within a fraction of a second the formation of the first elementary particles, quarks and gluons; (2) within 3 min their comï¿½bination to form the light elements hydroï¿½gen and helium; (3) after 300 million years the condensation of hydrogen and helium to form the first stars that in millions of years produced all chemical elements and ejected them in their death struggle (superï¿½nova-explosion) as a cosï¿½mic dust cloud, from which (4) after 9 billion years our Sun and Earth were formed. A simple calcuï¿½lation shows that immediately before inflation the cosmos, with a diameter of 10-30 m, could contain at most 10 gigaï¿½bits of informaï¿½tion. Although less than what current comï¿½puter hard disks can hold, this amount of information could certainly have contained the physical laws and fundamental constants, needed to initiate inflation and guide the further cosmic evoï¿½luï¿½tion.
Theoï¿½logically speaking, this information would have been brought in by the Spirit. So here we appear to find a crucial and distinct role for the Spirit as a creative agent, acting in cooperation with the Logos but separated in time by a fraction of a second. Without the benefit of our scientific knowledge, Irenaeus foresaw this in his statement: The Son and the Spirit are the two hands of God by which he created all things,4ï¿½except that I substitute the non-incarnate Logos for the Son. We may characterize their actions as transmission of energy by the Logos and of informaï¿½tion by the Spirit in a concerted fashion.
There are, however, two other ways in which the Spirit appears to be involved in creation. (1) As Life-giver and breath of God. Reformulating Gen.2:7 in the light of our present knowledge of prebiotic and biological evolution, we may say that the Spirit brought life to the first organisms that developed some 3.5 billion years ago and subsequently to all other organisms evolving from the proto-organisms, including humans. The capricious course of cosmic and biological evolution suggests that God allowed his continuing creation to develop with a great degree of freedom. (2) In influencing ‘chaos events’ to keep the evolving creation on track to the goal set by the Creator. It is now recognized in chaos theory that so-called ‘non-linear systems’, including the solar system, the earthly atmosphere and all living beings, will in their development in time encounter a fork in their path (Gleick 1987). The system can then follow either the one or the other leg of the fork. Since there is no enerï¿½gy difï¿½ference between the two legs, both ways are equally likely. We canï¿½ï¿½not predict which leg will be followed, and thus we call this a ‘chaos event’. But this also means that a minute influence, one bit of information, can make the system follow the one rather than the other leg. With John Polkinghorne (1995) I suggest that this may be the opening God has reï¿½served to correct where necessary the course of the freely evolï¿½ving creation withï¿½out violating any of the physical laws God laid down in the beginï¿½ning. It can be shown that this is physically possible, although it is unlikely that we shall ever be able to ‘catch’ God on influenï¿½cing a chaos event (Bonting 2005). Apart from the very small energies and times involï¿½ved, we simply don’t know the various paraï¿½meters of the affected systems with sufficient accuracy to be able to detect such interventions. Theoï¿½loï¿½gically speakï¿½ing, we may pose that the Spirit will transï¿½mit the informaï¿½tion necesï¿½sary for the influenï¿½cing of a chaos event.
7. Concerted action of Spirit and Logos
It appears to me that there are four important occasions where Logos and Spirit acted in concerted fashion.
(1) Creation: In the previous section I presented arguments for assuming that in creation the Logos brought in the energy for the big bang, followed a fraction of a second later by the Spirit bringing in the information needed to transform the explosion into an orderly process of cosmic evolution.
(2) Prophecy: The Spirit transmits the content of the prophetic message, while the Logos gives it the power that makes the hearers receive it as a Word of God. The same can probably be said of ecstatic experiences of the Spirit, such as at Pentecost and in the Church resulting from this event.
(3) The birth of Christ: The birth stories of Matthew (the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit; Mt.1:20) and Luke (The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy…; Lk.1:35) suggest that the Spirit conceives the child Jesus as the Christ. In conï¿½trast, the gospel of John has the inarnation of the Logos in Jesus of Nazaï¿½reth, which makes him the Christ. Can these two conflicting accounts be reconciled? The virgin state of Mary in the accounts of Matthew and Luke has led to the belief that the Spirit imï¿½pregnated Mary. However, this is questionable on biblical, biological and theoloï¿½gical grounds. The virgin birth of Jesus is mentioned nowhere else in the New Testaï¿½ment. Matthew refers to the messiï¿½anic text in Isa.7:14, which uses the Hebrew word ‘almah‘, young woman of childbearing age, married or unmarried. But the much later Greek translation in the Septuagint, used by the New Testament authors, translates almah with the word ‘parthenon‘, young virgin. Our present bioï¿½loï¿½ï¿½giï¿½cal knowledge of conception tells us that it is impossible to have a fully human male born without fertilization of the ovum by the sperm of a human father, as Arthur Peacocke has convincingly argued (Peacocke 1993). The theological developï¿½ment in the early Church in the line of Justin Martyr (c.150) ï¿½> Athanasius (c.350) ï¿½> Gregory of Nazianzus (c.380) ï¿½> Council of Chalï¿½ï¿½cedon (451) led to the conviction that the Savior of humankind has to be fully human as well as fully divine.5 Therefore, John’s account of the incarnation of the Logos has served as the basis of the christology developed in the early Church. However, a partial reconciliation (disregarding the mode of conception) of the two accounts seems possible, if we consider that in addition to the divine power (Logos) Jesus received the wisdom of God (expressed in Jesus’ insightful teaching) through the Spirit.6</a