The Inseparable Operations of the Trinity and the Divine Son’s Human Experience of the Spirit

During his earthly life and ministry, Jesus was anointed by the Spirit, led by the Spirit, empowered by the Spirit, and acted in the Spirit. This essay will examine the biblical testimony to Christ’s experience of the Holy Spirit during his earthly life and ministry in light of the doctrinal commitments of a classical Christian account of Trinitarian theology and Christology. The Son’s experience of the Spirit is a perfect case study for the biblical fidelity of classical theological commitments because the doctrinal loci of divine attributes, Trinity, Christology, pneumatology, and anthropology all converge here. Does the divine Son’s experience of the Spirit undermine classical Trinitarian and Christological understandings, as many allege?

This essay will argue that the theological commitments of classical Trinitarian theology and Christology are particularly well suited to help readers of Scripture understand the New Testament testimony to the Son’s human experience of the Holy Spirit in light of the whole counsel of Scripture.

The essay will engage critically the work of many thinkers who allege the incompatibility of biblical testimony regarding the Son’s experience of the Spirit with classical Trinitarian and Christological commitments: Spence, Incarnation and Inspiration; Kay, Trinitarian Spirituality; Pinnock, Flame of Love; Yong, Spirit Poured Out; Newman, A Spirit Christology; Dunn, Jesus and the Spirit; see also contemporary Unitarians and seventeenth century Socinians. In the end, I will show that these allegations are found wanting and that classical theological commitments offer the only coherent theological framework for understanding the biblical material.

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