- Receiver, Bearer, and Giver of God’s Spirit: Jesus’ Life in the Spirit as a Lens for Theology and Life by Leopoldo A. Sanchez M.
As mediated through the creedal and confessional traditions, Lutheran Christology is a “Logos Christology,” focusing on how the preexistent divine Word was incarnate in Jesus Christ through [End Page 474] a personal or hypostatic union. Logos Christology was forged in opposition to Arianism which made the Logos to be a creature and Nestorianism which separated the two natures in Christ. However, Logos Christology sidelines the scriptural truth that the man Jesus received or was empowered by the Spirit. In response, Sanchez, a Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, systematician, builds on “Spirit Christology,” which focuses on Jesus as the receiver, bearer, and giver of God’s Spirit, and which need not rule out Logos Christology. In contrast to Logos Christology, it begins Christology “from below,” assessing how the particular man, Jesus of Nazareth, is indeed “true God.” Spirit Christology acknowledges a Christological ontology where history, temporality, and relationality with respect to the life of God must be underscored.
The advantage of Logos Christology is that it safeguards the personal or hypostatic unity of the Son against attempts to divide or confuse his divine and human natures. But the drawback is that it favors a static view of Christ removing him from “his acts in history” (xx). Sanchez’s goal is to offer a Spirit Christology which supplements a Logos Christology by honoring the agency of the Spirit in Jesus’ ministry which accomplished human salvation (xx).
Many early theologians wondered about the impact of the Holy Spirit’s descent at Jesus’ baptism. In a Logos Christology perspective, the descent of the Spirit was a sign of Jesus’ uniqueness for Jesus’ disciples but had no bearing on Jesus’ own identity which was already settled or secure on the basis of the incarnate Logos (8). Hence, for Justin Martyr, Christ did not need the anointing of the Spirit for himself but instead for our knowledge of his messianic power (4). But, Irenaeus presents an alternative. Irenaeus understands that the church’s Spirit-led participation by the Father’s pleasure in the divine life happens through the church’s present-day reenactment of the incarnate Word’s anointing by the Father with the Spirit . . . human reception of God and God’s indwelling in humans can only take place by the church’s sharing in the Spirit (unction) of God who first anointed Christ at the Jordan (20).
Logos-centered Christologies preserve Jesus’ divine identity but seemingly at the expense of a robust biblical theology which acknowledges the impact of the Spirit in own Jesus’ life (38). A Spirit Christology acknowledges the Spirit’s dynamic and ongoing presence in [End Page 475] the ministry of Jesus Christ (40). Hence, Jesus’ exaltation in the resurrection is tantamount to a “new pneumatological event in God’s economy of salvation” (48). Thereby, since Jesus has been anointed in his humanity “to be constituted as Son for us, in such a way that he, as head of the church, might make us participants by adoption through baptism in his anointing,” humans can be incorporated into the life of the church, linking “Christology and ecclesiology” (74).
From Spirit Christology, Sanchez unfolds a rich Trinitarian theology where the economic Trinity (the triune God acting in history for salvation) proves to be the immanent trinity (the eternal inter-relationships of the triune persons), and vice versa (109ff ). Crucially, Sanchez links Spirit Christology to Lutheran modes of thinking, first by extending Chemnitz’s genus maiestaticum in which Christ’s human nature is magnified by the attributes of his divine nature, in order to articulate a “genus pneumatikon,” the “movement of the person and work of the Holy Spirit in and from Christ for the sake of the world” (179), and second by linking the Spirit as the agent in the gospel which does the word to humans (as the late Gerhard Forde put it).