Faced with centuries of war and violence, modern theology has commonly presented the Holy Spirit as an embracive, comprehensive current that ushers the world into the fullness of the divine. Call it force or call it flow, the Spirit’s aim is to lift humanity beyond painful mortal limits until all becomes Spirit in an inclusive, limitless affirmation.
In this complex and moving lecture, theologian Ephraim Radner explains how this recent theology obscures central Christian claims about the divine grace of our limitations as creatures made by God. With his own family history of suicide in view, Radner is also concerned that the claims of modern pneumatology might encourage people to move beyond the pain of this life by choosing to die — to believe that "the world as it is as a creation of God, with all its intrinsic mortal limits, is without hope unless and until it is left behind.”
What, then, is the role of the Holy Spirit? To drive us and join us to the body of Jesus Christ. In Jesus, we find “the whole fullness of what it means to be a human person in God’s eyes.” We see “the order of our life as we are given it and called into it: that our lives be given over to the fullness of the grace of our creator for birth, for suffering, for labor, for joy, for death, and for resurrection.”
“Those who choose to live require first the choice that God has made to live this life that they were given."
Listen to "Spirit of Life and Death: Modern Pneumatology and the Struggle against Mortality” and this illuminating interview with Radner. For the brave among us, Radner's new book on the topic is also available.