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The Christology and Pneumatology of

the Cappadocian Fathers

Cletus Hull
Early Christianity: RTCH 785C DE
July 21, 2014

Introduction
The Cappadocian fathers are known for their collective wisdom on the theology of the
Trinity. As the debate with the Arians in the Trinitarian controversy developed, their talents in
rhetoric and philosophy assisted in the creation of Christianitys orthodox beliefs. This final
paper will assess their ideas on the Trinity seeking to reveal the two theological trajectories of
christology and pneumatology. My thesis will substantiate that the underlying christology and
pneumatology of the Cappadocian fathers are the linchpins cementing the doctrine of the Trinity
in Christendom. The division of the paper involves six sections. First, a brief background of each
father provides the setting for their concepts. Second, a discussion on the taxis of the Trinity
offers a foundation for their christology and pneumatology. Third, an understanding of the
Cappadocian fathers view of the Holy Trinity undergirds their arguments. Fourth, the importance
of the Cappadocian christology is demonstrated in their writings. Fifth, an appraisal of their
pneumatology will pay particular attention to the fathers view of the Holy Spirit. Sixth,
concluding thoughts on the Cappadocian fathers christology and pneumatology in future renewal
studies will be advanced.
Background of the Three Cappadocian Fathers
In church history, St. Gregory of Nyssa is known as one of the Cappadocian fathers,
together with St. Basil, St. Gregory of Nanzianus and his sister St. Macrina. As a group of
theologians, their profound thought influences the historic traditions of Christianity for seventeen
centuries. St. Gregory of Nyssa, educated in the existing Greek philosophical schools desired to
amalgamate his faith with philosophy. In his work On the Soul and the Resurrection, as St.
Gregory struggles with the christological issue of resurrection and conducts a deathbed
conversation with his sister St. Macrina. In the style of Platos Phaedo, he debates the

philosophical meaning of the nature of the soul with his elder sibling.1 The dialogue reveals an
excellent teaching method concerning the doctrine of the resurrection. In short, St. Gregory
believes Christians can confidently defend their conversations with intellectuals and philosophers
of his time era.
With St. Gregory of Nyssa, his brother St. Basil the Great is another of the Cappadocian
fathers. St. Basil was not only a theologian, but also an ascetic, engaged in the monastic life. He
commits his youth to education studying rhetoric in the Caesarean schools. It is in Pontus that he
builds his lifelong relationship with St. Gregory of Nazianus.2 Eventually, he surrenders his
career to Gods vocation as he contends against the Arian theology that holds favor over the
church. St. Basils refutation of the Arian attack against his teaching as innovative initiated his
writing On the Holy Spirit. This treatise demonstrates the frivolity of their arguments. On the
Holy Spirit is his masterpiece on the Spirits position in the Godhead of the Trinity. In this
exposition he sets the theological foundation for the future of orthodox Trinitarian theologia.
Lastly, St. Gregory of Nazianzus is associated with the Cappadocian fathers. Together,
with his colleagues St. Gregory of Nyssa, and St. Basil, their mutual enrichment on the theology
of the Holy Trinity establishes a firm foundation for Trinitarian thought. His Eminence
Archbishop Stylianos Harkianakis, the Primate of the Greek Orthodox Church in Australia aptly
notes we should not, however, underestimate the great life-long influence that Gregorys father,
bishop Gregory of Nazianzus, had on his personality. Having died approximately at one hundred
years of age, he shepherded his flockwhich was constantly tested by heresies and factionalism
1 St. Gregory of Nyssa, On the Soul and the Resurrection (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimirs Seminary Press, 2002),
11.

2 St. Basil the Great, On the Holy Spirit (Yonkers, NY: St. Vladimirs Seminary Press, 2011), 11, 13-14.

for an entire forty-five years.3 St. Gregorys reputation had consolidated a century or so after
his death, as the Theologian for the special distinction of his exposition of the doctrine of
God.4 His writing On God and Christ reveals a man profoundly infused with the teaching on the
deity of the Holy Spirit. The Five Theological Orations and Two Letters to Cledonius include
numerous quotations and illusions from Holy Scripture. Donald Winslow maintains that
Gregory has almost consistently been viewed by historians as a writer on doctrinal matters
whose views were graced with impeccable orthodoxy.5 Thus, his erudite instruction engages
with the controversial doctrine of the Trinity.
The Taxis on the Trinity Provides a Foundation for Christology and Pneumatology
The first three centuries of church history contain the development of the Trinitarian
formula. The patristic writings include numerous moments of divine insight concerning the
Triune God. By the fourth century dissenters and heresies abound. As Adolf Harnack notes the
theological progressions in his History of Dogma, he includes that the Cappadocians were
pupils both of Origen and of Athanasius. This fact explains their doctrinal system.6 Thus, the
Cappadocian fathers embrace this significant opportunity to explain the Trinitarian faith.

3 Stylianos, Harkianakis, Gregory the Theologiana spiritual portrait. Phronema, 26 no. 2 (2011): 5.

4 St. Gregory of Nazianzus, On God and Christ (Crestwood: NY: SVS Press, 1993), 9.

5 Donald F. Winslow, Christology and Exegesis in the Cappadocians. Church History, 40 no. 4 (December 1971):
390.

6 Harnack, Adolf, The Doctrine of the Holy Ghost and of the Holy Trinity. History of Dogma, Vol. IV. Christian
Classics Ethereal Library. 114. Accessed July 18, 2014, http://www.ccel.org/ccel/harnack/dogma4.pdf .

The concept of the Trinity surrounds itself with philosophical notions of the belief in one
God as three persons. The ancient church often spoke of a taxis, or ordering, when speaking
about God and his interaction in the world with us: from the Father, through the Son, to/in the
Spirit. But they also spoke of human interaction and doxology back to God in similar terms with
the taxis reversed from/in the Spirit, through the Son, to the Father.7 Hence, the idea of a taxis
creates a working formation to comprehending the Trinity.
Several conceptual words demonstrate the capacity of human language to describe God.
Boris Bobrinskoy asserts that the great theological innovation of St. Basil was to define the
terminological distinctions between and , between essense and person.8
Additionally, (homoousios) denotes of one essence or similar essence.9 The Son
is of one essence with the Father and eternally begotten of the Father (John 1:14; 3:16). Church
historian Kenneth Scott Latourette notes that St. Basil and the Cappadocian fathers overcame
this difficulty by saying that in God there is only one ousia, but that there are three hypostases,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. For these three the Cappadocians preferred the term hypostasis.10
Thus, in demonstrating the divinity of the Holy Spirit, St. Basils exposition positions the
groundwork for Trinitarian theology both conceptually and terminologically.
7 Joel C. Elowsky, We Believe in the Holy Spirit Ancient Christian Doctrine Series, Vol. 4. (Downers Grove, Ill: IVP
Academic, 2009), xx.

8 Boris Bobrinskoy, The Indwelling of the Spirit-Pneumatic Christology in the Cappadocian Fathers. St
Vladimir's Theological Quarterly 28 no. 1 (1984): 54

9 Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology Vol. 1. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1985), 334-337.

10 Kenneth Scott Latourette, A History of Christianity, Vol 1: Beginnings to 1500 (New York: HarperOne, 1975),
163.

The Holy Trinity


The doctrine and theologia of the Holy Trinity avows that there is one God, in three
persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Although the teaching as such is not fully explicated in the
New Testament, the raw materials are stated in early Christian worship practice and experience.
Michael Haykin paraphrases St. Gregory of Nyssas understanding of the Trinity drawing upon a
rainbow as an iconic image. He describes St. Gregorys thoughts with this analogy,
when a rainbow is seen clearly in the sky, the various colors of the spectrum can be easily
distinguished, but they pass so gradually into each other without any abrupt transition that
is well-nigh impossible to say where one color begins and another ends. Similarly, the
individual members of the Godhead can be distinguished in their operations and
activities, but this should never be done in such a way as to destroy their unity of being.11
It is important to note the biblical witness that leads St. Basils contention for the Trinitys
veracity. In Scripture, unity and equality link the three persons of the Trinity. The baptismal
formula in Matthews gospel reads in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy
Spirit (Matt. 28:19). In addition, the Pauline corpus of 2 Corinthians discovers this basic rubric
of Trinitarian belief. In his benediction to the church in Corinth he pens these words, the grace
of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of
you (2 Cor. 13:13).12 Certainly, the apostles words sanctions the root of the mystery of the Holy
Trinity.
The Cappodacian fathers represent the best of the eastern orthodox tradition. In the
Eastern Church, baptismal theology follows Jesus example. At the baptism of Jesus all three
11 Michael A. Haykin, Defending the Holy Spirit's deity: Basil of Caesarea, Gregory of Nyssa, and the
Pneumatomachian Controversy of the 4th century. Southern Baptist Journal of Theology. 7 no. 3 (Fall 2003): 78.

12 All scriptural quotations are from The New Revised Standard Version (Anglicized Edition), copyright
1989, 1995 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in
the United States of America.

persons are present, as one God. Jesus is baptized, the Father speaks words of blessing and the
Holy Spirit falls as a dove upon the Son (Matt. 3:16-17). In baptism, the similar essence
() of God is not only in the Father and Son, but equally unveiled in the descending of
the Spirit. In the Johannine gospel a strong case is presented for the co-equal status of the Father,
Son and Holy Spirit. Millard Erickson in his systematic theology Christian Theology, maintains
that the Son is sent by the Father (John 14:26) and comes from him (16:28). The Spirit is given
by the Father (14:26), sent from the Father (14:26), and proceeds from the Father (15:26).13 The
introduction of christology and pneumatology commence in Jesus baptism. Thus, from the
various suggestions of deity in the New Testament, the Trinity and Holy Spirit are inseparable.
The unity of the Godhead reflects the work of the Holy Spirit. St. Basil testifies that now
the greatest sign of the Spirits union with the Father and the Son is that he is said to be related to
God as our spirit is to each of us.14 The cooperation of the three persons in unity reveals both the
divinity of the Holy Spirit as well as the unity of the Holy Trinity. Albert Meesters relates
according to the Cappadocians, the unity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit is situated
in their common will and activityso there is one single act-centre and in the common nature.15
Therefore, God is one, sharing the divine essence () with the Spirit and the common nature
of the Holy Trinity.

13

Erickson, 331.

14 St. Basil, 75.

15 Meesters, Albert C., The Cappadocians and their Trinitarian Conceptions of God. Neue Zeitschrift fr
systematische Theologie und Religionsphilosophie, 54 no. 4 (2012): 405.

St. Basils theology acknowledges both the essence () and distinct persons
() of the Holy Trinity. He defines as the goodness of the will, which, because it
is coincident with substance, is considered similar and equal, or rather the same, in the Father
and the Son.16 In addition, St. Basil protests against the Spirit-fighters17 and engaged Holy
Scripture demonstrating their faulty logic about the Spirit. He also refutes the modality of the
followers of Sabellius with the meaning of stating if they say that the persons are
divided by being three, there are three even if they wish not; or let them destroy the divine
Trinity altogether.18 His sarcasm surfaces in the midst of his defense as he championed the
equality of the Spirit with the Father and Son. Without a doubt, he endures the battle with holy
valor. Ultimately, his strong christology and pneumatology are the reinforcements to bolster his
belief in the Holy Trinity.
Christology
The core concerns of the person of Christ undergird the Cappadocian theology of the
Trinity. The christological issue of the nature of the Son provides a rich background of analysis.
The central element in christology of Christs nature and resurrection present the relevance of
this section of the paper. Udo Schnelle frames christology this way,
the proclamation, life, and destination of Jesus of Nazareth provide the foundation for
the first Christian new world of experience and thought. This first transformation
generates a Christology as the conceptual and narrative development of the salvific
16 St. Basil, 51.

17 The Spirit-fighters or pneumatomachians, confer decreasing essence to the Holy Spirit, as the Arians granted to
the Son. See St. Basils scrutiny of their opinions in On the Holy Spirit, 57-58.

18 St. Basil, 112.

meaning of the Christ event, in which Jesus is seen as Messiah, Kyrios, and the Son of
God.19
Thus, the eschatological consequences of Christs nature and resurrection are surveyed through
the eyes of the Cappadocian fathers.
St. Basil indicates vividly On the Holy Spirit of the Sons christological nature stating let
them learn that Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God (1 Cor. 1:24), that he is the
image of the invisible God (1 Col. 1:15) and the radiance of glory (Heb. 1:3) and that God
the Father has sealed him (John 6:27) and imprinted his whole self in him.20 The nature and
person of Christ in scripture are the center pieces of his theology. As he combats the Arians and
his opponents, St. Basil grows weary of their accusations. In the end, St. Basil depicts
sarcastically of his adversaries if, however, they think that the Son crouches down before the
Father, as if in some low-lying place, so that the Father sits above him and the Son is pushed
back down into lineif they think this, let them confess as much, and we will be silent, since
this is self-evidently absurd.21 St. Basil firmly plants his theology on the christological theme
that Jesus the Son is God in human flesh.
St. Gregory, in On God and Christ, proposes an examination between the nature of God,
the Godhead and person of the Holy Trinity as he grounds his notions in Holy Scripture. In the
second oration, On the Doctrine of God, St. Gregory leads the reader to the heights of Gods

19 Udo Schnelle, Theology of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2009), 163.

20 St. Basil, 41.

21 Ibid., 40.

vastness and mystery. He quotes the apostle Pauls view from 1 Cor. 13:9 citing we know in
part and we prophesy in part.22 He refers reflectively of the divine,
To know God is hard, to describe him impossible, as a pagan philosopher taughtsubtly
suggesting, I think, by the word difficult his own apprehension, yet avoiding our text of
it by claiming it was impossible to describe.23
Finite humans restrict the knowledge of God by the fact of their corporeal reality. Orations three
and four are a question and answer section on the matchless divinity of the Son, Christ. He
proclaims,
I take the view that he is called Son because he is not simply identical in substance
with the Father, but stems from him. He is Only-begotten not just because he alone
stems uniquely from what is unique, but because he does so in a unique fashion unlike
things corporeal.24
The Theologian concludes the fourth oration with an enumeration of biblical functions of the Son
of God. This prelude points to the beginning of his Fifth Theological Oration which submits that
the deity of the Holy Spirit is equivalent to the essence of the Father and the Son. In speaking of
the Father and the Son, he proposes if one existed from the beginning, so did all three.25 In
addition, as a future sign of the Nicene Creeds phrase that God the Son is God from God, Light
from Light26 St. Gregory interfaces with the three persons of the Trinity stating,
22 Ibid., 52.
23

Ibid., 39.

24 Ibid., 111.
25

Ibid., 119.

26

From the Nicene Creed.

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He was the true light that enlightens every man coming into the worldyes, the Father.
He was the true light that enlightens every man coming into the worldyes, the Son.
He was the true light that enlightens every man coming into the worldyes, the
Comforter.27
In fact, he applies the same attributes of the Father and Son, to the Spirit, underscoring the
Spirits divinity. Hence, the unity of the Trinity is affirmed while establishing the equal role of
the Holy Spirit in the economy of God.
One christological topic of supreme importance is the resurrection of Jesus because the
first Christians were convinced that Jesus rose from the dead (Acts 26:23-24; 1 Cor. 15). The
Ancient Christian Doctrine, We Believe in One Lord Jesus Christ states, the achievement of the
Christ is of such cosmological importance, and of such importance in the life of God and the
regard of God has for his entire world, that the real status of Jesus person is thereby revealed.28
This christological matter opens itself uniquely in St. Gregory of Nyssas On the Soul and the
Resurrection. The resurrection of the body requires reflection for personal faith and
understanding as this topic was likewise faced by the apostle Paul in the Corinthian church (1
Cor. 15). As St. Gregory concludes his discussion with his sister on the resurrection, he proceeds
to give her a number of objections which she counters with scriptural admonitions. His concern
builds a reasonable argument about the resurrection for a skeptical mind. St. Macrina shares her
definition of the resurrection in this succinct comment,
Therefore to describe this doctrine and limit it with a certain definition, we shall say this,
that resurrection is the restoration of our nature to its original condition. In the first life,
of which God Himself became the creator, there was presumably neither old age, not
27

Ibid., 118.

28 John Anthony McGuckin, ed., We Believe in One Lord Jesus Christ Ancient Christian Doctrine Series, Vol. 2.
(Downers Grove, Il: IVP Academic, 2009), xviii.

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infancy, nor the suffering caused by the many kinds of diseases, nor any other type of
bodily misery; for it is not likely that God created such things. Human nature was a
divine sort of thing, before humanity started on the course of evil. All these things
attacked us when evil entered our life. Therefore the life without evil will not need to be
subject to the conditions which have happened because of evil.29
Thus, conveying a strong case for the bodily resurrection St. Macrina as teacher asserted that
humans will achieve the most glorious form in the resurrection of the body. This christological
idea is proclaimed to St. Gregory by a woman with great faith in God and courage to take the
Holy Scriptures as the highest authority on the subject. Thus, the resurrection and the theology
of the cross (that theologia crucis that is so prevalent in the early Christian writers) becomes a
veritable theology of glory and triumph.30 Certainly, the christology of the fathers is evident in
their writings.
Pneumatology
In scripture, the apostle Peter implicitly calls the Holy Spirit, God, in a conversation with
Ananias and Sapphria. He comments that the couple lies to the Holy Spirit and then they lie to
God, connecting God with the Spirit (Acts 5:3-4). From that moment, the serious notion of
bonding the Holy Spirit with God is established in biblical pneumatology. As Udo Schnelle
keenly notes in his Theology of the New Testament alongside the appearances of the Risen One,
the effective work of the Spirit is the second experiential dimension that affected the formation
of early Christology.31 Because the Cappadocian fathers defended the deity of the Holy Spirit,
this notion reveals the centrality for the Cappadocian fathers pneumatology.
29 St. Gregory of Nyssa, On the Soul and the Resurrection (Crestwood, NY: St Vladimirs Press, 1993), 113.

30 McGuckin, xviii.
31

Schnelle, 169.

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The initial debate with St. Basil centers on his doxology; specifically, the axis of the
deliberation focuses on the Holy Spirit. For St. Basil, the Holy Spirit is divine and he asks
several piercing questions about the divinity of the Holy Spirit.
What sort of nature should he be thought to have, who exists everywhere and co-exists
with God? . . . Should we not exalt him who is divine in nature, unbounded in greatness,
powerful in his energies, and good in his deeds? Should we not glorify him?32
The fundamental core of his questions affirms that he unconditionally embraces the divine nature
of the Holy Spirit. St. Basil unequivocally deals with the equal honor (homotimia) of Jesus in On
the Holy Spirit as the Son holds equal glory with the Father, as does the Holy Spirit. Likewise,
Michael Haykin suggests of St. Basils pneumatology that the Spirit, moreover, ranked
alongside, not below, the Father and the Son, participates with the Father and the Son in the
entirety of divine activity, from the creation of the angelic beings to the last judgment.33
Therefore, the Spirit lacks nothing less of God the Father, and the Son as his attributes are not
characteristics of a created being. There is a unity of operation and activity with the three persons
of the Trinity.
From Gods presence the Holy Spirit radiates many attributes. First, the Spirit reveals
Christ. St. Basil notes when he says through whom we have access (Rom. 5:2), he shows that
our reception and kinship with God comes through Christ.34 Second, the Holy Spirit was coequal, one of one, not one of many. St. Basil records if they think that sub-numeration is
appropriate for the Spirit alone, let them learn that the Spirit is mentioned together with the Lord,
32 St. Basil, 92-93.

33 Haykin, 76.

34 St. Basil, 45.

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just as the Son is with the Father.35 Hence, the Holy Spirit shares the attributes together with the
Father and the Son. Third, the Holy Spirit was intrinsically holy. St. Basil inquires, How could
the Seraphim say, Holy, holy, holy (Isa. 6:3) unless they were taught by the Spirit how many
times it is pious to proclaim this doxology?36 Thus, as St. Basil proclaims, the Holy Spirit is
above all the name for everything incorporeal, purely immaterial, and indivisible.37 In his
attributes he is not diminished but complete and established in Gods divinity.
In St. Gregory of Nazianzus pneumatology On God and Christ, much of oration 31 in
the fifth theological discourse dedicates its thoughts to substantiating the deity of the Holy Spirit.
In oration 31.26 he notes that that from the beginning God progressively reveals himself to
humankind. The first stage of history devotes itself to the Father, and next age to the Son in the
doctrine of God. Lastly, the Son gave us a glimpse of the Spirits Godhead38 providing
increasing revelation of the Trinity through the ages. Thus, as the Son is consubstantial with the
Father, likewise, the Spirit is of the same essence. The idea states clearly in his own words of
oration 31.10, What then? Is the Spirit God? Certainly. Is he consubstantial? Yes, if he is

35 Ibid., 78.

36 Ibid., 73.

37 Ibid., 52-53.

38 Ibid., 137.

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God.39 Thus, he affirms not only the consubstantiality of the Word of God, Christ, but also the
Holy Spirit as the same essence and full deity as God the Father.
St. Gregorys pioneering pneumatology of the Holy Spirit as consubstantial with the
Father and the Son is noteworthy. In addition, his contribution in the face of controversy over the
meaning of the Holy Trinity is significant. The Spirit is the divine essence and not an impersonal
power or force. The Godhead reflects the work of the Holy Spirit and the cooperation of the three
persons reveals both the divinity of the Holy Spirit as well as the harmony of the Holy Trinity. As
Christopher Beeley espouses Gregory confesses the Spirit to be fully and unequivocally God.40
Therefore, God is one, sharing the one divine essence () and the Spirit is unique, sharing
the common nature of the Holy Trinity.
A central scripture concerning the Trinitarian relationship of the Father and Son, with the
Holy Spirit is John 14:26. The Johannine gospel records, when the Advocate comes, whom I
will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who comes from the Father, he will testify on
my behalf. This strong yet simple profession discloses St. Gregorys pneumatology in the
Trinity. Throughout the fifth oration the Theologian confesses the Spirits divinity in the same
terms as the Father and the Son. Again John 15:26 affirms when the Advocate comes, whom I
will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who comes from the Father, he will testify on
my behalf. Jesus the Son understands that the Spirit proceeds from the Father and the totality of
God follows the essence of the Holy Spirit.

39 Ibid., 123.

40 Christopher A. Beeley, The Holy Spirit in the Cappadocians: Past and Present. Modern Theology, 26 no. 1
(January 2010): 99.

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Christ is at the center of pneumatological theology; the Father is its goal; the Spirit is the
means. Without the Spirit there can be no human response to God. He gives us spiritual
life, a life that encompasses the whole life of faith including repentance, justification and
faith, our union with Christ that the Greeks called theosis which leads into our life of
sanctification.41
Thus, the unity of the Godhead reflects the work of the Holy Spirit in completeness. By his
reading of Holy Scripture, St. Gregory adopts a Trinitarian framework for his theology. His
pneumatology at heart is fundamentally Trinitarian.
Concluding Reflections and Future Renewal Studies
Certainly, the Holy Trinity and the Holy Spirits position in the Godhead are one of the
distinct tenets of Christianity. A proper discernment of christology and pneumatology are crucial
to understanding the Holy Trinity. The Spirits relationship with the Father and Son is important
to understand his position in the Godhead. Robert Louis Wilken writes in The First Thousand
Years,

Basil wrote the first treatise in the history of Christianity on the Holy Spirit to show that
if the Holy Spirit is not fully God there is no reason to baptize in the name of the Father,
and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit must be given the same glory, honor,
and worship as the Father and the Son.42
He develops the case for his argument that because the Spirit possesses the same commonalty
with the Father and Son, he is unquestionably in equivalent standing with the eternal God. In
addition to the Spirits equal status, Millard Erickson adds,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, is to be worshiped, as the Trinue God. And keeping in mind
their distinctive work, it is appropriate to direct prayers of thanks and of petition to each
of the members of the Trinity, as well as to all of them collectively.43

41 Elowsky, xx.

42 Robert Louis Wilken, The First Thousand Years: A Global History of Christianity (New Haven, CT: Yale
University Press, 2012), 95.

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Therefore, not only is he equated with divine essence (), but there is relationship between
each person () and ultimately with the spirituality of humankind.
St. Basils pneumatology contains vital implications for renewal studies. Because of the
diminished appreciation for the Spirits presence in the life of the church, pneumatology is a
comparatively novel topic of discussion in theological circles. Consequently, without recognition
of the Spirits similar essence in the hypostatic union with the Father and Son (),
pneumatology has no divine connection to support its views and credo. Theologically, the
exposition of the Trinitarian formula provides the basis for the renewal experience. As scripture,
tradition and reason illuminate the Spirits presence in the Holy Trinity; likewise, experience in
renewal must establish the concrete understanding of the Holy Spirits value in academic and
ecclesiological ministry. On the Holy Spirit reveals the struggle for the early development of the
theologia of the Holy Trinity and specifically, the understanding of the Holy Spirit with this
divine mystery. St. Basil stoutly concludes, for the Lord will finish what is left, either though us
or through others, according to the knowledge furnished to those who are worthy of him by the
Spirit.44 If renewal studies can capture the same conscientious enthusiasm with the person of the
Holy Spirit, then future analyses in pneumatology will unveil gems from the past that can
illuminate our present and future theological research.
The foundational teaching of St. Gregory the Theologians On God and Christ uncovers
the full deity and worship of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in his christology and
pneumatology. The relationship with the Father and Son signifies the bond of his position in the
Godhead. Robert Louis Wilken conveys in The First Thousand Years that the Cappadocian fathers
43 Erickson, 342.

44 St. Basil, 122.

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worked out the implications of what had been decided at Nicaea and took up a new issue,
whether the Holy Spirit, like the Son, was fully God.45 Thus, St. Gregory as St. Basil in his
treatise On the Holy Spirit supports the idea that the Holy Spirit contains the fullness of the
eternal transcendent God.
Among the Cappadocians, St. Gregory of Nazianzus offers the most comprehensive
doctrine of the Holy Spirit. His pneumatology contains vital implications for future renewal
studies. In Letter 101 to Cledonius, the Theologian declares,
we recognize the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit as God, and these are not being
mere appellations determining the inequalities of ranks or powers, but we recognize that
there is one and the same title so there is one and the same nature, substance and power
of Godhead.46
Theologically, the exposition of the Trinitarian relationship provides the basis for the renewal
experience. The divine energy of God originates through the Trinity beginning with the Father,
flowing through the Son and coming to humans in the Spirit. Indeed, experience in renewal must
be verified in the concrete understanding of the Holy Spirits importance in the Holy Trinity. St.
Gregory in On God and Christ has the last word by expounding the Spirits properties. He
communicates that the Holy Spirit is the,
Spirit of Christ, Mind of Christ, Spirit of the Lord, and Lord absolutely; Spirit of
Adoption, of Truth, of Freedom; Spirit of Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel,
Might, Knowledge, True Religion and of The Fear of God. The Spirit indeed
effects all these things, filling the universe.47
45

St. Gregory of Nazianzus, 95.

46 Ibid., 163.

47 Ibid., 140.

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If renewal studies can liberate the same robust consciousness of the person of the Holy Spirit as
St. Gregory portrays, then future studies in christology and pneumatology will uncover treasures
from the Cappadocian fathers that can illuminate our present and future theological research.
The post-modern church must return to the teachings of the Cappadocian fathers to
appreciate the historic Christian faith. In On the Soul and Resurrection, St. Macrina counters St.
Gregory of Nyssas philosophical objections on the resurrection stating you have attacked the
doctrine of the resurrection by the art which they call rhetoric, persuasively surrounding the truth
with destructive words.48 Todays Enlightenment presuppositions must be analyzed with
scriptural injunctions based on biblical christology and pneumatology. The Protestant publisher
Inter-Varsity Press states in We Believe in One Lord Jesus Christ that it is one of the great
tragedies of the current state of divided Christianity that this patristic literature is so little known
by so many, or, worse regarded as not a real heritage of the Protestant world . . . this treasure of
the early church shines with the grace of the Spirit.49 Hence, the christology and pneumatology
of the these fathers (and mother) buttress the historic teaching of the Trinity. In this Trinitarian
teaching the revelation of the Christian life is made known. Dragos-Andrei Giulea declares that
the Cappadocian fathers see the ultimate goal of the human existence as being transformed into
the Image of Christ.50 The eternal goal of the christology and pneumatology of the Cappadocian
fathers follows St. Pauls admonition that Christ is formed in you (Gal. 4:19). In this way,

48St. Gregory of Nyssa, 112-113.

49 McGuckin, xix.
50
Giulea, Drago-Andrei, The Cappadocian Paschal Christology: Gregory Nazianzen and Gregory
of Nyssa on the Divine Paschal Image of Christ. Zeitschrift fr antikes Christentum, 12 no. 3 (2008): 485.

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these twin trajectories create the anchor for Trinitarian faith in the Christian life.

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