Unity and Diversity (Post #1 on the Holy Spirit)

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I have been reading a book called Pneumatology by Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen in which he discusses, among other things, the way Eastern Orthodox theology has emphasized the mutual work of the Son and the Spirit (a notion found in some western theologians like Karl Barth).  The point Kärkkäinen made is that Eastern theology has especially emphasized the unity in the work of the Son and the Spirit, and he explains some implications of this trinitarian reality for the church:

As a mutual work of the Son and the Spirit, the catholicity [“togetherness” if you will] of the church has two aspects: unity (as a result of the church’s being the body of Christ) and diversity (as a result of the church’s being the fullness of the Spirit). The christological aspect creates the objective and unchangeable features of the church, while the pneumatological aspects shapes the subjective side of the church. In other words, the christological aspect guarantees stability while the pneumatological aspect gives the church a dynamic character.[1]

There is a beautiful, trinitarian reality here: the work of the Trinity, and the essence of the Trinity, is united, even as the Persons of the Trinity have diverse roles. For the church, this means that we have a common mission and common organization “in Christ” even as we have different gifts and roles to serve in; likewise, in our worship there are some fundamental forms and doctrines that unite us, that is, there is an order to our worship (1 Corinthians 14:33), even as we have the freedom to express our worship in various ways (2 Corinthians 3:17). For our society this means that we should have common unifying features, like freedom of speech and religion, while recognizing that we all have diverse vocations and roles. Finally, for marriage this means that we recognize that there is a unity between husband and wife, while each has different dynamic and diverse roles to fulfill. It would be wonderful if our churches, societies, and marriages reflected the glorious beauty of the Trinity, in which there is both form and freedom, unity and diversity.


[1] Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen, Pneumatology (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2002), 72.

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