The reading from Gary Badcock’s book, Light of Truth & Fire of Love: A Theology of the Holy Spirit, looks at Herbert Mühlen’s theology of Jesus the “Anointed One” in the sense of the uniqueness of the union of the Spirit with Christ. Badcock starts off by saying that over time there has been a loss of the Spirit in christology and that these negative implications are still present in our theology today. He goes on to explore the role of the Holy Spirit in the anointing at Jesus’ baptism and in the life of Jesus. How do we make sense of the role of the Holy Spirit in Jesus when we know he was fully God and fully Man at the same time? Badcock explores Mühlen’s thoughts on this topic, as well as a concept that he developed to make sense of this mystery. Mühlen accepts the idea “that the role of the Holy Spirit in the life of Christ was a secondary implication of the hypostatic union” (148). But, he finds weakness and limitations in the scholastic version of this doctrine. Thomas Aquinas’ view is used as an example, where the Spirit is not what makes Jesus Christ divine. Instead the Spirit is the “result or ‘crown’ of a divine Sonship that is already presupposed on totally independent grounds” (149). It is the result of the hypostatic union. Badcock writes, “The work of the Spirit is secondary and derivative - to endow the humanity assumed with those created sanctifying graces and charisms by means of which the man Jesus could live in a holy manner” (149). The Spirit supplied what was needed so that the true humanity of Jesus could live a life of holiness. The purpose behind this was to accept the Christ’s true humanity and to impart a particular role in christology for the Holy Spirit in its relation to that humanity. However, Mühlen points out that this Aquinas’ view is defective as it allows no “growth or movement in Jesus’ human relation to God, whereas development is essential to human existence” (149). This interpretation did not allow Jesus’ humanity to be viewed in a dynamic way, but only as permanent and unchanging.
In response to this doctrine, Mühlen develops a salvation-historical role for the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of Christ. Badcock describes it as follows, “In anointing Jesus, and in continuing to mediate between the risen Christ and the church, the Spirit becomes bound up on and with the temporal existence and mission of Jesus Christ. In this way, the Spirit assumes a role in time and thus in the outworking of God’s work of salvation that, according to Mühlen, he did not have before” (151). This concept is not only limited to the Holy Spirit, but can be used for the Logos too. The point is that both the Logos and the Holy Spirit became something they had not been before.
Furthermore, an outcome of Mühlen’s concept is that it connects pneumatology to ecclesiology and christology. Badcock writes, “While the basis of the whole development lies in the activity of the Holy Spirit in the Christ-event, Mühlen refers to the characteristic work of the Holy Spirit in the economy of salvation as the Spirit’s ‘corporeality’ . . . in the church. The connection between the two is that the continuing work of the Spirit in the church is the continuation of the salvation-historical anointing of Jesus with the Spirit. This reflects Mühlen’s description of the Spirit as ‘One Person in many persons’ - that is, in Christ and in the plurality of persons constituting the church. The point is that the Spirit must be understood in his presence and activity in the church as the same Spirit who anointed Jesus, the incarnate Son of God, and as the Spirit through whom this same Jesus now makes himself present to us” (152).
Just as the Spirit anointed Jesus, the same Spirit continues this salvific work in the church.
Some of the implications of viewing the Spirit in this way is that it attaches Jesus’ earthly saving work to his present activity through his Spirit in the church. It also means the Spirit is more than just a mediator between us and Christ in heaven in that it makes possible a contemporary salvific participation in the historical Christ-event through the Spirit (152).
Badcock, Gary D. Light of Truth & Fire of Love: A Theology of the Holy Spirit. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 1997. 145-153.