Saturday, 28 April 2012

The Holy Spirit as the Gift of the Love of God for God to us

Brad at Resident Theology drew my attention today to this quote from Augustine's On the Trinity:

There is no gift of God more excellent than this. It alone distinguishes the sons of the eternal kingdom and the sons of eternal perdition. Other gifts, too, are given by the Holy Spirit; but without love they profit nothing. Unless, therefore, the Holy Spirit is so far imparted to each, as to make him one who loves God and his neighbor, he is not removed from the left hand to the right. Nor is the Spirit specially called the Gift, unless on account of love.

Love, therefore, which is of God and is God, is specially the Holy Spirit, by whom the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts, by which love the whole Trinity dwells in us. And therefore most rightly is the Holy Spirit, although He is God, called also the gift of God. And by that gift what else can properly be understood except love, which brings to God, and without which any other gift of God whatsoever does not bring to God? 

This more or less explains in greater depth the thoughts I had here, when I wrote about how the love between the Father and the Son lives in us.  


  1. Really good except the nauseating contrasts between all the love language, which I whole-heartedly agree, and the Augustinian phrase, "eternal perdition."
    At which point does punishment stop being lovingly redemptive? At which point does God deny his own character and refuses to do what he commands Christ's followers to do, namely, "Father, forgive them, they know not what they do", and the whole sheenanegans of "turning the other cheek"?
    I'm just not convinced Augustine, who won the orthodoxy argument, is right on this. He often talks of eternal punishment as if with a glee smile. That to me is the opposite of human love, never mind divine love!

  2. I wouldn't get too upset by the language of 'eternal perdition', as I think it refers to the difference between those who are 'in Adam' and those who are 'in Christ' - which the distinguishing phrase 'eternal perdition' actually fits quite well. Those 'in Adam' cannot help but be lost to eternal ruin, so it can't be the case that perdition is purely about punishment, but rather about the impossibility of a humanity outside of Christ to be saved. I wouldn't be too quick to project a 'glee smile' onto Augustine, even if true; be better to let the theology rise or fall on its own merit.
    I understand your concern here, but it looks like a mistaken view of damnation. Is it possible, for example, for works of the fleshly nature, however well-intentioned, to be redeemed? I think not.

  3. "Too upset"? Now that's a little off putting....

  4. I can almost hear you pouting, mon frere!