Pneumaformity

Recently, there has been increased interest in considering Jesus as the essential example for the Christian life. In particular, Michael Gorman has written extensively on cruciformity, whereby believers are “conformed to the crucified Christ.” Scot McKnight has added the broader concept of Christoformity, in which believers are “formed by his life, by his death, and by his resurrection and ascension.” Another term being discussed is resurrectiformity or anastasi-formity, whereby believers are formed into the image of the resurrected Son. All of these have a lot to contribute to our understanding of the Christian life.

My paper will consider another angle in the discussion based on the notion of “pneumaformity,” a term I have coined that provides the title for a forthcoming monograph. Pneumaformity focuses on the role of the Spirit in forming people producing in them cruciformity, Christoformity, and resurrectiformity. I will argue that, for Paul, pneumaformity is the fundamental work of the Spirit in the Christian life.

Engaging with these scholars and others and in conversation with the outstanding work of the recently deceased great biblical scholars, Gordon Fee in God’s Empowering Presence and James D. G. Dunn in Jesus and the Spirit, I will introduce the idea of pneumaformity and isolate some of the main threads that have come from my research for the book. I will explain how important it is to add pneumaformity to our understanding of Christian formation, as understood by Paul. The term and ideas behind it remind us of the coherency between the person and work of Christ as the image of the invisible God and that of the Spirit into forming us into the image of his Son. I will briefly touch on selected aspects of my perspective on Paul’s understanding of the Spirit regarding conversion, integration into the people of God, worship, Christoformity and virtue, suffering, participation in church life, mission, and the final state.

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