Theological Fragments: Pannenberg on the Holy Spirit

The confession that the Holy Spirit is “person” … expresses primarily the experience that the Christian is not his own lord.  Insofar as he lives out of faith in Christ, the center of his person that determines his behavior lies outside himself.  The personal center of Christian action is the Holy Spirit

That the Spirit is the personal center of Christian action residing outside of the individual makes it understandable that in Paul, as elsewhere in primitive Christianity, the Spirit is characterized both as person distinguished from the Christians and also as a power that they possess internally.  The Spirit comes to our aid (Rom. 8:26), gives witness to our spirit (v. 16), and claims our service (ch. 7:6); but he is also given to us, received by us, dwells in the believers, rests upon them.  That both series of statements belong together is made clear by the insight that the Christian exists outside himself to the extent that he lives in faith in the resurrected Jesus and thus “in the Spirit.”  The immanence of the Spirit in believers exists only through the fact that as believers they have found the ground of their life extra se, beyond themselves.

– Wolfhart Pannenberg, Jesus – God and Man, trans. L. L. Wilkins & D. A. Priebe (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1968), 177.

Scholarship: Melanchthon & the Work of the Holy Spirit

“[Melanchthon] affirmed his conviction that apart from the Holy Spirit the human will can exercise a measure of freedom in the performance of works that maintain public order and virtue. The Holy Spirit also restores this freedom to those who are reborn.

“…The action of the Holy Spirit in and through his Word, functioning as law and gospel, stood at the heart of Melanchthon’s discussion of conversion. This assertion of God’s working through the Word was the Preceptor’s way of affirming that God does not work magically (his reaction against medieval superstitious use of the sacraments ex opere operato), and that he does work with human creatures as the human reflections of his own image that he created (Melanchthon’s confession of the biblical understanding of human responsibility and of  human trust in the God who speaks in his Word)” (Kolb, Bound Choice, 112).